Imagine that you have a farm with a creek running through it. You water your garden and some livestock out of that stream. One day you notice that your garden is dying and your livestock are getting sick. You ask your upstream neighbor if he’s seen anything similar. He hasn’t, but says in passing that he’s been poisoning plants in the creek. He then tells you not to worry because he decided that the poison in the creek would not go past his property line and into yours.
Sound absurd? That’s because it is! Nevertheless, our state Senate has passed a bill which does exactly that for groundwater contamination. Senate Bill 612 moves the compliance point (where concentrations are toxic) from a location close to the source, downslope to the owner’s property boundary. It’s as if, by legislative declaration, gravity will cease to work and not move the contamination onto the adjacent property.
Who benefits? It is the owner of the property that caused the groundwater contamination. Some refer to SB 612 as the Duke Power bill. If you live down slope from any business that will have seepage basins or underground tanks, watch your property value decline if this bill passes the House. Get your well tested, too.
Now imagine that you have property on the coast. Over the years you’ve seen increased beach erosion and damage to property and roads during storms and hurricanes. You need to make some decisions about whether to invest in upgrading your property to withstand the current level of ocean impacts, plan for greater impacts, or move further inland. What you need are the best available predictions of what will happen in the future.
In 2012, the legislature passed a bill (HB 819) that prohibited the state agency responsible for coastal resources from using the best available science to make predictions of what will occur with sea level rise and plan based on those predictions. It’s as if a law will keep the water from rising. Additionally, since 2008, the budget for that agency has been cut by 23 percent. This enforced ignorance can only reduce your ability to make intelligent, informed decisions. Again, who benefits? Real estate agencies and developers along the coast who pushed this piece of legislation.
John Gladden — Franklin, N.C.