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“RALEIGH—A bill filed today in the General Assembly would free state agencies from several restrictions that have prevented them from taking stronger action against GenX manufacturer Chemours…

The bill would repeal the Hardison Amendment, provide approximately $14 million in funding for the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and shift the ‘burden of proof’ from state agencies to permit holders – and while no specific facility is named, Chemours and DuPont are the clear targets of this last provision.

The 2014 Hardison Amendment has been a consistent source of frustration for environmental groups; the amendment rewrote G.S. 150B-19.3, preventing state agencies like the DEQ and Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) from adopting ‘a rule for the protection of the environment or natural resources that imposes a more restrictive standard, limitation, or requirement than those imposed by federal law or rule’…

The bill directs a total of $14 million to the following areas:

  • $7 million for 39 staff members to conduct sampling and analyze data, and to tackle state’s considerable backlog of emission permits
  • $4.4 million for staff and equipment to update the state’s current paper-based permit process to a digital system
  • $1.5 million for laboratory upgrades at Reedy Creek Laboratory, one of the DEQ’s main testing facilities
  • $1 million for chemical detection equipment
  • $536,000 to DHHS for four new staff positions: a medical risk assessor, a toxicologist, an epidemiologist and a public health educator.

The bill would forbid any discharge into North Carolina waterways of a chemical that had no associated health standard, EPA consent order or other advisory or regulation…

The bill would require that permit applicants identify every chemical in its discharge, even those not currently regulated; the burden of identifying these so-called “emerging contaminants” currently rests on the state and the EPA.

The bill would require the DEQ’s Environmental Management Commission to immediately suspend the permit of a facility that is either violating the terms of its permit – that is, discharging more than allowed – or that is discharging a chemical not identified by its permit.

In the event of such a discharge, the bill would authorize the DEQ to recover the cost of filtering the water at the point of discharge, as well as removing any pollutant from downstream water supplies.”

Read the full article by Benjamin Schachtman