State Politics

McCrory budget moves NC Zoo, other attractions from DENR

Gov. Pat McCrory’s budget provides $742,112 over the next two budget years to help with costs associated with the February 2014 coal ash spill into the Dan River. This photo, taken Feb. 5 of last year, shows Jenny Edwards, program manager for Rockingham County with the Dan River Basin Association, scooping coal ash from the banks of the river.
Gov. Pat McCrory’s budget provides $742,112 over the next two budget years to help with costs associated with the February 2014 coal ash spill into the Dan River. This photo, taken Feb. 5 of last year, shows Jenny Edwards, program manager for Rockingham County with the Dan River Basin Association, scooping coal ash from the banks of the river. AP FILE PHOTO

The biggest impact on the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources would be the shifting of responsibilities that aren’t directly related to environmental protection over to the state Department of Cultural Resources.

The N.C. Zoo, state aquariums, museums and parks would become part of a department that is more about attractions. That would practically double the size of that agency.

DENR would receive a little extra money to put toward coal ash cleanup, dam safety and fracking regulation:

▪ An additional $742,112 over the next two budget years would meet underestimated costs associated with the final Coal Ash Management Act that became law last year. The money would be spent on meeting deadlines and other requirements of the law.

A special provision would increase fees on Duke Energy to provide an additional $400,000 to help offset this cost.

▪ Funds for two full-time engineers to manage and conduct reviews of dam safety emergency action plans would amount to $529,704 over two years. There are approximately 1,600 intermediate- and high-hazard dams in the state.

▪ The state would chip in $500,000 to help an industry consortium drill core samples to evaluate natural gas potential that could be developed through fracking. The samples would be drilled in the Sanford sub-basin of the Deep River basin and Lee and Chatham counties.

In several programs, relatively minor funding cuts would be accomplished through consolidation and other efficiencies.

KEY STAT: $74 million. That’s the cost of running state parks, historic sites, the zoo and other attractions that would be transferred from DENR to Cultural Resources – along with about 1,000 employees.

HOW LIKELY? There hasn’t been any substantial opposition to the proposal.

Jarvis: 919-829-4576;

Twitter: @CraigJ_NandO

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