Major Legislative Updates for the 2013-2014 Session, Part I
By Samantha Walker and Rory Fleming, Research Law Fellows
N.C. Coastal Resources Law, Planning, and Policy Center
This is a guide to direct researchers, scientists, lawyers, and other professionals interested in coastal law and policy issues. The guide separates legislative materials into two categories: (1) Session Laws and (2) new and amended legislation enacted as a part of the 2014 State Budget. Part I summarizes the Session Laws and provisions from the State Budget that relate more specifically to coastal law and policy. Part II will summarize provisions that have wider environmental law and policy application.
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Energy Modernization Act (S 786/S.L. 2014-4)
This Act allows DENR to begin issuing permits for hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) on July 1, 2015. It also requires oil and gas companies to disclose all chemicals used in fracking to the State Geologist, but prevents such “trade secrets” from public disclosure except during emergency situations.
Groundwater Contamination/Modify Response (S 574/S.L. 2014-17)
This Act, in response to the United States Supreme Court ruling in CTS Corp. v. Waldburger, clarifies that the 10-year statutory period for bringing a personal injury or property damage claim does not bar tort action for damages caused by exposure or use of contaminated groundwater.
Reclaimed Water as Source Water (S 163/S.L. 2014-113)
This Act permits approved wastewater to supplement drinking water supply. The bill also requires communities utilizing reclaimed wastewater as drinking water engage in other water conservation acts.
2014 State Budget
The 2014 State Budget (Session Law 2014-100), entitled Current Operations and Capital Improvement Appropriations Act of 2014, has many items which implicate environmental law and policy, and specifically items which implicate coastal law issues. These items are included in a variety of different sections of the overall bill and are broken down here according to general category.
Department of Environment and Natural Resources
The budget required the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Wildlife Resources Commission, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Department of Labor, and the Department of Commerce to review every active federal grant received by the respective departments and report to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Natural and Economic Resources, Chairs of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Natural and Economic Resources, regarding grant resources and maintenance. Pursuant to G.S. 143C-1-1, all departments which have undergone reorganization or modification are required to submit a report detailing:
(1) Positions eliminated,
(2) Positions transferred among divisions, sections or programs,
(3) New divisions, sections, and programs established,
(4) A comparison of the organizational charts before and after the reorganizations or other administrative modifications with each structural change clearly identified,
(5) A list of divisions, sections, and programs that were unaffected by the reorganizations or other administrative modifications,
(6) Resulting cost-savings, itemized by funding source,
(7) An explanation of improvements in the administrative capability of the department to manage its programs and carry out its mission, and
(8) An identification of any obsolete or overlapping activities.
Coastal and Estuarine Water Beach Access Program
In compliance with N.C.G.S. §113-44.15, five percent of appropriated funds and gifts to the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund will be allocated to the Coastal and Estuarine Water Beach Access Program. The total 2014-2015 amount in the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund is $19,694,012. Thus, for fiscal year 2014-2015, the Coastal and Estuarine Water Beach Access Program will receive $984,700.
Carolina Beach State Park Marina
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources will solicit proposals for the sublease of the currently State-owned marina located at Carolina Beach State Park. DENR will report their findings by February 2015 documenting whether it is more cost effective to have a private party manage the marina than internal management. Their report will also address the services to be performed by the private party and performance expectations, payment and record-keeping requirements, and compliance with State parks system rules and regulations and standards.
The Department of Administration, on behalf of the State, will seek to initiate negotiations with the federal government to acquire land to construct jetties near Oregon Inlet. The budget does not address the payment method for acquiring Oregon Inlet, other than to state that it will be “in exchange for State-owned real property.” The property being acquired is described in section 14.7(f) on pp. 119 of S-744, and includes portions of Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge and Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The Secretary of the Department of Administration will negotiate the terms of the acquisition agreement. The Department of Transportation will identify the federally owned property necessary to construct or manage existing and future transportation corridors on the Outer Banks and report this information.
First proposed in S-791, the Outer Banks Land Management Act, this provision also allows the Governor to issue an executive order waiving the requirements for environmental review and permitting for any uninhabited area bordering the Atlantic Ocean or any coastal sound.
Water Quality Remediation Funds
Five hundred thousand dollars ($500,000) from the Clean Water Management Trust Fund will be used for remediation and mitigation of storm water impacts to lakes subject to a Nutrient Management Strategy approved by the Environment Management Commission. This allocation will fund efforts to control storm water upstream from lakes with nutrient management plans, such as Jordan and Falls Lakes.
Commercial Fishing Licenses
The annual fee for a standard commercial fishing license increased from $250 to $400 per year. Shellfish licenses, licenses for fish dealers, and recreational commercial gear licenses all increased as well.
Contact the N.C. Coastal Resources Law, Planning, and Policy Center at email@example.com or 919-515-1895. Or follow them on Twitter @oceancoastallaw.