[PRESS RELEASE] With the stroke of his pen last Friday, Governor McCrory signed H765 into law, thus rolling back decades of progress in clean air improvements for North Carolina. Known as the Regulatory Reform Act of 2015, the law threatens a broad range of environmental protections, but especially makes it easier for air polluters to pollute and more difficult for people affected by that pollution to stop it.
Instead of making existing air quality rules stronger and more enforceable, the new law either repeals existing rules or makes them worse. The repeal of the rule requiring heavy duty diesel trucks to limit idling to five minutes and adding agricultural plastics to burn piles will result in more pollution and less public oversight. The law also makes it harder for people to find out when a local industry has emitted more pollution than they are allowed and harder for them to stop that pollution from continuing.
Many of the provisions of the new law will have harmful effects on our state’s most vulnerable residents—those suffering from heart and lung ailments, older residents, pregnant women, and children.
Pediatrician Dr. Jonathan Kotch, who serves on the faculty at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and is member of Medical Advocates for Healthy Air, has significant concerns about the consequences of this law.
Dr. Kotch noted, “The impacts of air pollution on children with asthma are well known. However, there is new and increasingly convincing evidence that air pollution is harmful to pregnant women and to the developing fetuses they are carrying. Colleagues at UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health have shown that exposure of pregnant women at critical periods of gestation to carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, sulfur dioxide and fine and coarse particulate matter is associated with specific kinds of congenital heart defects.”
Heart disease is the number one cause of death in North Carolina and 10% of our children suffer from asthma.
June Blotnick, Executive Director of Clean Air Carolina, found the trend of loosening restrictions on sources of air pollution combined with increased restriction of public oversight is a serious threat to public health. “Our elected officials have clearly shown they prioritize industry over public health.
Looking at the long term, however, good public health is essential to a strong economy.”
Clean Air Carolina is a nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring cleaner air for all North Carolinians through education and advocacy and by working with our partners to reduce sources of pollution.
Medical Advocates for Healthy Air is an initiative of Clean Air Carolina made up of medical and public health professionals leading the cause for cleaner, healthier air.