Quick Hits: N.C. Senate Planning to Eliminate Conservation Funds + Federal Clean Water Rules Weakened

Nine environmental groups and 16 South Carolina cities will sue over offshore drilling tests

Nine conservation groups and 16 coastal cities in South Carolina are suing the Trump administration to stop leases to explore for offshore natural gas and oil. The lawsuits claim that the leases violate the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act, which prohibits harassing or killing animals such as whales or dolphins. When companies explore for natural gas and oil offshore they use a process called seismic blast testing that involves detonating sound blasts from airguns every 16 seconds. The blasts can deafen, injure and scatter marine animals and take place over miles of ocean for months at a time. Five companies want to search for natural gas and oil off of South Carolina’s coast. Offshore natural gas and oil exploration has been met with massive opposition from South Carolina’s communities, leaders and politicians.



The Trump administration unveils a plan that weakens federal clean water rules

On Tuesday the Trump administration released a proposal weakening federal water protections for millions of acres of streams, wetlands, and waterways that could affect drinking water for more than one-third of Americans. The proposal dramatically restricts which bodies of water are protected under the 1972 Clean Water Act regulations. A 2015 Obama rule expanded the definition to include 2 million additional acres of streams and 20 million more acres of wetlands. The new proposal will limit Clean Water Act regulations to major waterways, their tributaries, and adjacent wetland and exempt seasonal streams and other wetlands. The proposal also replaces a Bush-era rule that subjected some of those streams to regulations if they were connected to navigable waters. The proposal is now open to 60 days of public comment.


Project Funding for North Carolina’s Conservation Organizations Faces Elimination

A quick-moving State Senate Bill is threatening to eliminate two sources of funding for conservation organizations in North Carolina: the Clean Water Management Trust Fund (CWMTF) and the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF). North Carolina Senate Bill 821 seeks to repeal statutes creating six boards and commissions, including those of CWMTF and PARTF, “for which the appointed structures were ruled unconstitutional pursuant to McCrory v. Berger and Cooper v. Berger.” According to a statement released by Salisbury, North Carolina’s Three Rivers Land “Senate Bill 821 does not fix the six boards and commissions named in this bill. It instead jeopardizes project funding for conservation organizations across North Carolina. Luckily, House Bill 1120 will provide an immediate fix to these boards, without endangering CWMTF and PARTF.” Conservation organizations are urging North Carolina residents to contact their representatives and ask them to oppose Senate Bill 821 and support House Bill 1120.


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