RALEIGH — On Monday, Sept. 27, Civitas Institute President Francis X. De Luca filed a petition with the North Carolina Office of Administrative Hearings questioning the legality of the recently signed consent decree between the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality and the Chemours chemical company.
State and federal law requires the public be notified of any settlement decrees of Clean Water Act enforcement actions.
The settlement was signed on Sept. 8 by Bladen County Judge Douglas Sasser after discussion/negotiations between the DEQ and Chemours.
Civitas President Francis De Luca said, “The decree required Chemours to do things which were already required of them under existing law and appears to forgive all previous violations. This agreement seems designed to block citizen suits under the Clean Water Act.”
Civitas had earlier submitted a 60-day notice letter to Chemours and the EPA with the intention of filing a citizen lawsuit under the Clean Water Act. This settlement would appear to block Civitas and the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority from independently pursuing enforcement actions.
De Luca continued, “After decades of chemical dumping into the Cape Fear River, it would seem Gov. Cooper and DEQ would give the public an opportunity to comment on any settlement agreement between the state and the company responsible.”
The filing language:
“The Respondents failed to follow the requirements of NCGS Sections 143-215.2 and 143-215.110 and the Rules adopted pursuant thereto, including 15A NCAC .02H .1201, in executing the Partial Consent Order in State of NC v. The Chemours Company, 17 CVS 580, dated September 8, 2107. Respondents also violated North Carolina’s Memorandum (MOA) with the EPA (Section III.A.6) for the delegated NPDES program by failing to follow the Federal Clean Water Act (CWA) regulation, 40 CFR 123.27(d)(2)(iii). The North Carolina statutes and rules and the MOA and CWA regulation all require notice and a 30 day public comment period before Respondents can enter into the Partial Consent Order. The Respondents’ failure to follow the law has deprived Petitioner of his right to comment on the Partial Consent Order and have his comments considered in determining whether or not the Partial Consent Order is in the best interest of the public, which includes Petitioner.”
Founded in 2005, the Civitas Institute is a Raleigh-based, 501(c)(3) nonprofit policy organization that fights to remove barriers to freedom so that all North Carolinians can enjoy a better life.