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Fighting a New Regulatory Threat

We know that preserving the environment and cultivating a booming business climate aren’t mutually exclusive. It is possible to protect North Carolina’s natural environment while ensuring the state can continue to grow at the speed of business – a fundamental balance we must always maintain.

However, when regulatory efforts go beyond those necessary to protect North Carolina’s citizens and environment, our ability to compete for growth opportunities with other states and countries is crippled. Burdensome regulations cost Americans almost two trillion dollars annually, which is why developing a modernized, streamlined regulatory climate, void of overreach, is critical.

A new example of regulatory overreach comes as the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) attempts to sharply change the air quality standard for methyl bromide – a substance used to control insects in logs before they are shipped out of the country. Without this treatment, logs cannot be shipped.

Unfortunately, the Division of Air Quality has recently proposed a new acceptable exposure level for methyl bromide based on an incomplete review of current science. The permit level proposed would use data from studies evaluating long-term exposure to set short-term exposure limits, making North Carolina’s new methyl bromide regulation 780 times more stringent than either of those adopted in New Jersey and California.

The serious ramifications that could come with this regulatory overreach are immense. If this regulation was to go into effect, facilities treating logs in North Carolina could not demonstrate compliance with these poorly derived limits, forcing them to no longer treat logs with methyl bromide. Subsequently, sites in the business of shipping logs out of the country would be forced to close their North Carolina operations. However, they could move or open new operations in other states where requirements are consistent with data from the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, and not unreasonably excessive.

If the DEQ were to proceed with the proposed regulation change, the action would be contrary to federal and other state risk assessment guidelines and recommendations. This new regulatory threat could cause lasting harm to North Carolina’s lumber industry, while also hindering our ports’ abilities to compete with others along the East Coast. That’s why the NC Chamber has spoken out against this proposed regulation—read our full letter here. After the comment period closed on August 30, we observed that many responses also urge the Division of Air Quality to reconsider this proposed standard, especially in light of other federal regulations. We will continue to review these comments and keep you apprised of next steps.

As we work to improve North Carolina’s regulatory climate to meet the state’s future needs, it is imperative that we strike a smart balance between supporting the growth requirements of job creators and providing commonsense safeguards for a healthy natural environment. Though, it’s clear that this regulatory change simply goes too far. The NC Chamber will make every effort to keep this overly burdensome regulatory consequence from impacting the state’s business community.