Martin Hyman: More environmental regulations needed

March 1, 2014 

Regarding the Feb. 18 news story “Duke: No threat to health”: The Feb. 17 N.C. Environmental Review Commission meeting highlighted why we need proactive reforms in state environmental laws. Officials misled attendees about the Haw River wastewater and Dan River coal ash spills. Testimonies compared spill volumes to river volumes, implying the spills were insignificant.

Despite downplaying immediate effects on fish from coal ash into the Dan River, DENR Division of Water Quality chief Tom Reeder discussed the danger to bottom-dwelling organisms and the accumulation of toxins in fish due to coal ash. He even acknowledged an advisory not to swim in the Dan River and eat its fish.

Most disturbingly, DENR officials didn’t accept their duty to protect the environment. DENR is content with non-specific, voluntary actions, post-accident clean-up and “guidelines” on public notification laws.

DENR Secretary John Skvarla’s denial that his agency was blocking action on Duke’s coal ash ponds ignores the department’s lackluster enforcement against corporate “customers” after repeated prodding by environmental groups to perform legal obligations.

Many present indicated sympathy toward tougher legislation and increased funding for environmental protection. Let’s ensure our leaders deliver on their commitments.

Martin Hyman


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