Under the Dome

SEPA rollback on verge of clearing Senate

The Senate gave preliminary approval Thursday to a bill that would nearly eliminate a requirement that projects built with taxpayer money on public land receive an extra environmental review. A final vote is expected on Tuesday.

Sponsors of House Bill 795 say it is an outdated and unnecessary layer of bureaucracy. Environmentalists say it fills a gap in federal law, and has been a cornerstone a state policy for decades.

"If we pass this bill we’ll have fewer reports to go through, which means we’ll save more trees," said Sen. Andrew Brock, a Republican from Mocksville.

Sen. Angela Bryant, a Democrat from Rocky Mount, said she was concerned that no one has studied the implications of the bill.

"With millions of dollars of public investment on public lands it is still important to take a thorough look at what the environmental impacts are, because once the damage is done, in most instances, it’s too late," Bryant said.

Sen. Floyd McKissick, a Democrat from Durham, objected to a provision in the bill that precludes review of secondary impacts, such as traffic, noise and property values.