by Matt Saldaña
By a margin of 106-8, the N.C. House of Representatives passed HB 239 (“Restore Water Quality in Jordan Reservoir”), which will now head for a vote in the Senate.
The expected wrangling over pollution controls didn't happen on the House floor today, so look for an intensified lobbying effort to water down regulations on the Senate side, in advance of a final vote.
The bill that passed is identical to the version approved yesterday by the House Judiciary I committee, which maintains critical pollution control measures, and reduces the cleanup timelines proposed in earlier drafts. The bill--originally titled "Disapprove Jordan Lake Rules"--represents a modification to the nutrient-reduction strategy adopted by the N.C. Environmental Management Commission, and approved by the N.C. Rules Review Commission. In particular, it reduces EMC's ability to regulate pollution that results from existing development--the principal reason the lake has appeared, since 2002, on EPA's Impaired Waters list for "excess nutrients." Nevertheless, the bill allows nutrient-reduction goals to go forward, so the impaired drinking-water source can return to federal Clean Water Act compliance.