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Business groups ask lawmakers to ease state air quality rules PDF Print E-mail
State Government
Wednesday, 12 October 2011 16:45

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RALEIGH -- Business leaders say a state program monitoring air quality is hurting North Carolina’s ability to compete with other states.

Representatives from business community told members of the Environmental Review Commission that state air regulations often place unneeded burdens on companies. The panel is considering whether to recommend an overhaul of the State Air Toxics Program, which monitors 21 additional pollutants not regulated by federal rules, including ammonia and certain mercury compounds.

“Having both the state and the federal government engaged in regulating the same source is always going to be problematic,” said Preston Howard, president of the Manufacturers and Chemical Industry Council of North Carolina. “It’s always going to result in delays. It’s always going to be confusing from a compliance standpoint.”

Environmental officials argued that the program is needed to protect North Carolinians from a variety of health risks such as cancer, birth defects and respiratory problems. Dr. George Lucier, former chair of the State Air Toxics Program, noted that North Carolina has the 10th highest level of toxic air emissions in the country, according to data reported to the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

“Since North Carolina emits more pollutants than most states, the idea of abolishing it or dismantling it, just doesn’t make sense from a public health standpoint,” Lucier added.

The biggest difference between federal and state rules is how emissions are regulated. Federal standards use a technology-based approach to reduce a pollutant. The EPA must then evaluate if those rules are effective within a period of several years. The state program focuses more on the source of toxic pollutants and the actual emissions measured at the property boundary of the regulated facility.  

Committee chairman Sen. David Rouzer, R-Johnston, said the panel will continue to look at reforming the state air rules during the next few months.

“We certainly don’t want to be at a competitive disadvantage in terms of our business climate,” said committee chairman Sen. David Rouzer, R-Johnston. “At the same time, we certainly want to make sure we’re being good stewards of the environment, too.”

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Listen to Dr. George Lucier’s presentation:

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Listen to Manufacturers and Chemical Industry Council of NC president Preston Howard’s presentation:

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