House Changes to Senate Bill 10 — The Environment Commissions

On Wednesday, the House Committee on Commerce and Job Development approved a new version of Senate Bill 10 (reorganizing important state commissions) that  looks very different from  the bill approved by the Senate last week. The changes did not please  Senate bill sponsor Tom Apodaca who appeared in the House committee to present the Senate bill.  The most significant House changes affecting environment commissions:

Coastal Resources Commission

— Increased the number of CRC members from the 11 proposed by the Senate to 13;  nine members would be appointed by the Governor and  four by legislative leaders

— Restored seats representing commercial fishing, sports fishing, wildlife and agriculture.

Like the Senate Bill, the House PCS would eliminate specific seats for members with experience in forestry, finance, marine ecology and conservation.

— Restored language limiting the number of CRC members who receive income from real estate development or construction. The House bill would require that seven of thirteen seats on the CRC  be  filled by individuals “who do not derive any significant portion of their income from land development, construction, real estate sales, or lobbying and do not otherwise serve as agents for development related business activities”.

— Added language requiring that all members be N.C. residents and either  reside or  own property in the coastal area

— Makes the transition in CRC membership  more gradual by allowing four current members to serve for another year.  The bill would end the terms of all  CRC members when the bill becomes law with the exception of four members who have existing terms ending June 30, 2014.  Those four members are now in seats designated for commercial fishing,  wildlife or sports fishing, local government  and one of the three at-large seats.

Environmental Management Commission

— Increases the number of EMC members to 15 (compared to 13 in Senate bill); nine members would be appointed by the Governor and six by legislative leadership.

—  Restores the  seat  for  a person  with experience  in air pollution or air pollution control.

— Adds back a seat for a  member with expertise in fisheries, marine ecology  or fish and wildlife conservation

— Restores the EMC conflict of  interest language. The House bill would require that all of the Governor’s appointees (a majority of the EMC members) must be people who  do not derive any significant portion of their income from “persons subject to permits or enforcement orders” under  the water and air quality statutes.

— Makes a more gradual transition to new appointments, taking the same approach used in the CRC appointments. The terms of all current EMC members would  end March 15, except that  four members would serve out terms  scheduled to end on June 30 2015.  Those four  EMC members now hold  seats earmarked for: agriculture; an engineer with experience in water supply  or in water or air pollution; a citizen interested in water or air pollution; and a person with expertise in air pollution or air pollution control. (As explained by legislative staff, the four EMC members hold over for two years  because of the way EMC terms are staggered.)

After a stop in the House Rules Committee on Thursday,  the bill can go to  the House floor.  From there, it will almost certainly  have to go to a conference committee to work out differences with the Senate.