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NC Legislature Passes Regulatory Reform Act of 2023 with Bipartisan Support

| Environmental & Regulatory Reform

After midnight on Friday morning, the NC House and Senate passed NC Chamber backed H600, Regulatory Reform Act of 2023 with bipartisan support. The bill included numerous provisions requested by the NC Chamber and we are pleased to see the legislature move this critical bill forward to provide regulatory relief to the business community and manufacturers. We expect this bill will be vetoed by Governor Cooper and the legislature will return to override the veto later in October.

  • Stormwater Program changes to remove discrepancy and encourage re-development.
    • This section would clarify some discrepancies between The N.C.  Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) and the N.C. Department of Transportation (NCDOT) on stormwater permitting and grandfathered impervious surface regulations for existing developments. This provision will address these issues and speed up re-development of sites across the state.
  • Wastewater “paper flow” or “peak daily flow” reform which will update and revise dated wastewater regulations stifling needed housing supply and economic development in North Carolina.
    • The NC Chamber supported S678, a bill which lowered the “paper flow” limits from 120 Gallons Per Bedroom Per Day (GPBPD) down to 75 GPBPD. This technical fix addressed an issue where many local governments were refusing to lower the rates for our members, because the language in S678 did not mandate the Wastewater System Operator to lower their calculations to 75 Gallons, and instead allowed them to. This technical fix will unleash many rural areas of the state that have additional physical capacity for wastewater but are maxed-out on paper.
  • Permitting Efficiency Reform for 401 Certifications to speed up deployment of dredging, energy, fuel, and infrastructure projects.
    • This critical section will speed up 401 Certifications with a 60-day deemed approved shot clock for projects without a public hearing, and 90 days with projects requiring a public hearing. The NC Chamber is proud to support this section to speed-up deployment of critical pipeline infrastructure for fuels and future natural gas pipelines. This provision will aid MVP Southgate’s future project in North Carolina.
  • Requiring the Statutory or Regulatory Citation for any conditions added to an issued permit by DEQ.
    • This section will require NCDEQ to cite their authority from statute for any condition added to permits from NCDEQ. The NC Chamber is aware of numerous unlawful conditions being added to our member’s permits and we hope this provision will ensure any condition is properly vetted, or processed through rulemaking if the Department wishes to add a condition to a permit that exceeds their legislative granted authority in statute, or a rule from the NC Environmental Management Commission.
  • Add New Procedural Requirements for Coastal Area Management Act (CAMA) Guidelines
    • The NC Chamber is aware of potential “verbal or unwritten” policy guidelines in the CAMA program. This section would require that CAMA post all guidelines on their website and increase transparency in the CAMA permitting process for the business community in coastal North Carolina.
  • Allowing developers working in the Brownfields Redevelopment Program to perform inspections and investigations without approval from the state to speed up redevelopment.
    • Currently in the NC Brownfields Redevelopment Program (NCBP) the department is prohibiting developers from performing their own inspections on the front-end and instead must wait for the Department to approve them. This is delaying projects and stifling re-development projects in the state. This provision should speed up the process and the NC Chamber looks forward to seeking a greater reform of the NCBP statute in the future.
  • Modify the Riparian Buffer and Floodplain rules for airports to encourage investment and expansion in our world-class airport infrastructure.
    • This section will aid the RDU Airport Authority in their runway expansion and ensure our critical airports can continue to grow, expand, and compete.
  • Increase the maximum truck load height from 13’ 6” to 14’ to allow for greater flexibility in supply chain for trucking and double stacking of equipment.
    • This section was requested by the NC Chamber to give our members greater flexibility in their supply chain and logistics with necessary trucking and hauling activities.
  • Restatement of Administrative Procedures Act (APA) Requirements
    • This section in H600 clearly states in statute that no agency may enforce a policy, guideline, or other interpretive statement that has not been properly adopted and a rule pursuant to the APA. This section compliments the NC Chamber supported APA Reform in the state budget which reforms and removes loopholes in the Act. We will provide a more detailed analysis on the APA reform once the section is law.