Raleigh, N.C. — Gov. Pat McCrory on Friday signed a bill that will loosen environmental safeguards for landfills while also signing an executive order that will allow local officials to cite leaky garbage trucks.
The environmental provisions were part of a sweeping regulatory reform bill approved in the closing days of the legislative session last month that also creates a plan for getting rid of unneeded administrative rules in state agencies.
“For decades, Democrats have stifled small businesses and job creators with undue bureaucratic burden and red tape. We have more than 22,000 rules on the books in state government, and this is unacceptable," McCrory said in a statement. "This commonsense legislation cuts government red tape, axes overly burdensome regulations and puts job creation first here in North Carolina.”
Agencies will now have to designate their rules as unneeded, needed but not controversial and needed but controversial. The regulations will then be winnowed based on those designations.
Republican backers slipped the controversial landfill rules, which a House committee had declined to consider, so far back in the 68 pages of House Bill 74 that they escaped the notice of some legislative opponents.
The provisions would allow landfills to be built at the edges of state gamelands and ease rules regarding how landfills must cover their trash and maintain systems that keep liquid coming from the landfill from leaching into nearby groundwater supplies.
The bill also repealed the requirement that garbage trucks be leak-proof, saying they need only be "leak-resistant." McCrory signed an executive order that would allow State Highway Patrol troopers and local police officers and deputies to continue citing leaky trucks for public health reasons.
A second order he signed Friday deals with a section of the bill covering billboard regulations. He said it would give local authorities more control over how much vegetation is removed near billboards along state highways, which would prevent clear-cutting that could damage the scenery.
"These executive orders help protect the beauty and environmental health of our state while also ensuring local government input," McCrory said in a statement.
Environmental groups criticized the new law, calling it a "special interest grab bag" that will inevitably harm the state.
"Unless you like unsafe landfills in your neighborhood or obnoxious digital billboards in your community, this grab-bag of special interest goodies is just one more step backward for our state," Brian Buzby, executive director of the North Carolina Conservation Network, said in a statement. "It's another sign that the lawmakers we sent to Raleigh care more about appeasing out-of-state business interests than about protecting the environment and quality of life that makes North Carolina special."