Gov. Pat McCrory signed a controversial environmental deregulation bill Friday, despite a last-minute lobbying push from environmentalists who wanted him to veto the legislation.
House Bill 765, which passed the legislature last month, is a 71-page bill with dozens of provisions that supporters say will eliminate unnecessary regulations facing businesses.
McCrory did not make any public comments about his support for the deregulation bill. It was among seven bills he signed Friday, and his public signing event focused on a bill that will expand governing powers for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
The N.C. Conservation Network opposed provisions that will eliminate protections for streams that dry up in the summer, cut back on air quality monitors and allow polluters legal protections if they voluntarily disclose violations.
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The group, which represents about 100 environmental organizations, helped organize 5,000 emails and 250 phone calls to McCrory urging a veto.
The N.C. Sierra Club blasted the governor for signing the bill. “H 765 may well be the worst environmental bill of McCrory’s three years as governor, and yet he has made it law with his signature,” director Molly Diggins said in a news release. “The governor missed an opportunity to stand up for clean air, clean water and healthy communities.”
The final version of the bill dropped several controversial positions. One would have repealed the requirement that manufacturers recycle electronics that people discard. The proposal will instead get a formal study.
Rep. Pat McElraft, an Emerald Isle Republican, sponsored the original version of the bill and said the final compromise with the Senate strikes a good balance.
“We haven’t loosened any environmental regulations that would hurt our water, our air, or our state in any way,” she told legislators ahead of a final 73-39 vote. “It’s clean, it’s green, and it’s not extreme. This is about balancing ecology and economy, and we have to do that in order to create jobs.”
Other bills McCrory signed Friday include:
GPS stalking: The governor backed the expansion of the state’s cyberstalking law to make secretive GPS tracking of another person illegal. The law makes exceptions for law enforcement and parents or legal guardians.
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians powers: McCrory visited Cherokee on Friday to sign a bill allowing the group to establish a police department and other law enforcement agencies.
McCrory still has about 15 bills remaining on his desk from the legislative session, which ended Sept. 30. Any bills he doesn’t sign or veto by next Friday will automatically become law.