GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF NORTH CAROLINA
SESSION LAW 2015-90
HOUSE BILL 795
AN ACT to reform and amend the State environmental policy act.
The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts:
SECTION 1. G.S. 113A‑4 reads as rewritten:
"§ 113A‑4. Cooperation of agencies; reports; availability of information.
The General Assembly authorizes and directs that, to the fullest extent possible:
(2) Every State agency shall include in every recommendation or report on any action involving significant expenditure of public moneys or use of public land for projects and programs significantly affecting the quality of the environment of this State, a detailed statement by the responsible official setting forth the following:
a. The direct environmental impact of the proposed action;
b. Any significant adverse environmental effects which cannot be avoided should the proposal be implemented;
c. Mitigation measures proposed to minimize the impact;
d. Alternatives to the proposed action;
e. The relationship between the short‑term uses of the environment involved in the proposed action and the maintenance and enhancement of long‑term productivity; and
f. Any irreversible and irretrievable environmental changes which would be involved in the proposed action should it be implemented.
(2a) Prior to making any detailed statement, the responsible official shall consult with and obtain the comments of any agency which has either jurisdiction by law or special expertise with respect to any environmental impact involved. The failure of an agency to provide comments within the comment period established under this subdivision or to request an extension for a specific period of time set forth in the request shall be treated by the responsible official as a conclusion by that agency that there is no significant environmental impact. Any unit of local government or other interested party that may be adversely affected by the proposed action may submit written comment. The responsible official shall consider written comment from units of local government and interested parties that is received within the established comment period. Copies of such detailed statement and such comments shall be made available to the Governor, to such agency or agencies as he may designate, and to the appropriate multi‑county regional agency as certified by the Secretary of Administration, shall be placed in the public file of the agency and shall accompany the proposal through the existing agency review processes. A copy of such detailed statement shall be made available to the public and to counties, municipalities, institutions and individuals, upon request.
SECTION 2. G.S. 113A‑9 reads as rewritten:
"§ 113A‑9. Definitions.
As used in this Article, unless the context indicates otherwise, the term:
(5) "Major development
project" shall include but is not limited to shopping centers,
subdivisions and other housing developments, and industrial and commercial
projects, but shall not include any projects of less than
two ten contiguous
acres in extent.
(7) "Public land"
means all land and interests therein, title of which is vested in the State of
North Carolina, in any State agency, or in the State for the use of any State
agency or political subdivision of the State, and includes all vacant and
unappropriated land, swampland, submerged land, land acquired by the State by
virtue of being sold for
taxes, escheated land, and acquired land.taxes
or by any other manner of acquisition, or escheated land.
(7a) "Significant expenditure of public moneys" means expenditures of public funds greater than ten million dollars ($10,000,000) for a single project or action or related group of projects or actions. For purposes of this subdivision, contributions of funds or in‑kind contributions by municipalities, counties, regional or special‑purpose government agencies, and other similar entities created by an act of the General Assembly and in‑kind contributions by a non‑State entity shall not be considered an expenditure of public funds for purposes of calculating whether such an expenditure is significant.
(11) "Use of public land" means land‑disturbing activity of greater than 10 acres that results in substantial, permanent changes in the natural cover or topography of those lands that includes:
a. The grant of a lease, easement, or permit authorizing private use of public land; or
b. The use of privately
owned land for any project or program if (i) the State or any agency of
the State has agreed to purchase the property or to exchange the property for
land.land and (ii) the use meets the other requirements of
SECTION 3. G.S. 113A‑10 reads as rewritten:
"§ 113A‑10. Provisions supplemental.
The policies, obligations and
provisions of this Article are supplementary to those set forth in existing
authorizations of and statutory provisions applicable to State agencies and local
governments. In those instances where a State agency is required to prepare an
environmental document or to comment on an environmental document under
provisions of federal law, no separate environmental document shall be
required to be prepared or published under this Article so long as the
environmental document or comment
shall meet meets the provisions
of this Article."
SECTION 4. G.S. 113A‑11 reads as rewritten:
"§ 113A‑11. Adoption of rules.
(a) The Department of Administration shall adopt rules to implement this Article.
(b) Each State agency
shall adopt rules that establish minimum criteria. An agency may
include a particular action or class of actions in its minimum criteria only if
the agency makes a specific finding that the action or class of actions has no
significant long‑term impact on the environment. Rules
establishing minimum criteria shall be consistent with rules adopted by the
Department of Administration. In addition to all other rule‑making
requirements, rules establishing minimum criteria are subject to approval by
the Secretary of Administration."
SECTION 5. G.S. 113A‑12 reads as rewritten:
"§ 113A‑12. Environmental document not required in certain cases.
No Notwithstanding any
other provision in this Article, no environmental document shall be
required in connection with:
(1) The construction,
maintenance, or removal of an electric power line, water line, sewage line,
stormwater drainage line, telephone line, telegraph line, cable television
line, data transmission line,
or natural gas line line, or
similar infrastructure project within or across the right‑of‑way
of any street or highway.
(2) An action approved
a. A general permit issued under G.S. 113A‑118.1, 143‑215.1(b)(3), or 143‑215.108(c)(8).
b. A Coastal Habitat Protection Plan under G.S. 143B‑279.8.
c. A special order pursuant to G.S. 143‑215.2 or G.S. 143‑215.110.
d. An action taken to address an emergency under G.S. 143‑215.3 or other similar emergency conditions.
e. A remedial or similar action to address contamination under Chapter 130A or 143 of the General Statutes, including a brownfield agreement entered into under G.S. 130A‑310.32.
f. A certificate of convenience and necessity under G.S. 62‑110.
g. An industrial or pollution control project approval by the Secretary of Commerce under Chapter 159C of the General Statutes.
h. A project approved as a water infrastructure project under Chapter 159G of the General Statutes.
i. A certification issued by the Division of Water Resources of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources under the authority granted to the Environmental Management Commission by G.S. 143B‑282(a)(1)u.
(3) A lease or easement granted by a State agency for:
a. The use of an existing building or facility.
b. Placement of a wastewater line or other structures or uses on or under submerged lands pursuant to a permit granted under G.S. 143‑215.1.
c. A shellfish cultivation lease granted under G.S. 113‑202.
d. A facility for the use or benefit of The University of North Carolina System, the North Carolina community college system, the North Carolina public school systems, or one or more constituent institutions of any of those systems.
e. A health care facility financed pursuant to Chapter 131A of the General Statutes or receiving a certificate of need under Article 9 of Chapter 131E of the General Statutes.
(4) The construction of a driveway connection to a public roadway.
A Any State
action in connection with a project for which public lands are used
and/or public monies are expended if the land or expenditure is solely
for the payment of incentives provided as an incentive for the project pursuant
to an agreement that makes the incentive payments incentives contingent
on prior completion of the project or activity, or completion on a specified
timetable, and a specified level of job creation or new capital investment.
(6) A major development as defined in G.S. 113A‑118 that receives a permit issued under Article 7 of Chapter 113A of the General Statutes.
(9) Facilities created in the course of facilitating closure activities under Part 2I of Article 9 of Chapter 130A of the General Statutes.
(10) Any project or facility specifically required or authorized by an act of the General Assembly.
(11) Any project undertaken as mitigation for the impacts of an approved project or to mitigate or avoid harm from natural environmental change, including wetlands and buffer mitigation projects and banks, coastal protections and mitigation projects, and noise mitigation projects."
SECTION 6. G.S. 159G‑38 reads as rewritten:
"§ 159G‑38. Environmental assessment and public hearing.
Environmental Assessment Process; Required Information. –
submitted under this Article for a loan or grant for a project must state whether
the project requires an environmental assessment. If the application indicates
that an environmental assessment is not required, it must identify the
exclusion in the North Carolina Environmental Policy Act, Article 1 of Chapter
113A of the General Statutes, that applies to the project. If the application
does not identify an exclusion in the North Carolina Environmental Policy Act,
it must include an environmental assessment of the project's probable impacts
on the environment.The Division shall establish an environmental
assessment process for projects funded from the CWSRF and DWSRF programs that
is sufficient to meet federal environmental assessment requirements for such
projects. Projects funded by the CWSRF or DWSRF shall meet the requirements of
the environmental assessment process established pursuant to this subsection. (b) Division
Review. – If, after reviewing an application, the Division of Water
Infrastructure determines that a project requires an environmental assessment,
the assessment must be submitted before the Division continues its review of
the application. If, after reviewing an environmental assessment, the Division
concludes that an environmental impact statement is required, the Division may
not continue its review of the application until a final environmental impact
statement has been completed and approved as provided in the North Carolina
Environmental Policy Act.
(c) Hearing. – The Division
of Water Infrastructure may hold a public hearing on an application for
a loan or grant under this Article if it determines that holding a hearing will
serve the public interest. An individual who is a resident of any county in
which a proposed project is located may submit a written request for a public
hearing. The request must set forth each objection to the proposed project or
other reason for requesting a hearing and must include the name and address of
the individual making the request. The Division may consider all written
objections to the proposed project, any statement submitted with the hearing
request, and any significant adverse effects the proposed project may have on
the environment. The Division's decision on whether to hold a hearing is
conclusive. The Division must keep all written requests for a hearing on an
application as part of the records pertaining to the application."
SECTION 7. G.S. 143‑215.22L(d) reads as rewritten:
The Except as provided in this subsection, the definitions
set out in G.S. 113A‑9 apply to this section. The Notwithstanding
the thresholds for significant expenditure of public monies or use of public
land set forth in G.S. 113A‑9, the Department shall conduct a
study of the environmental impacts of any proposed transfer of water for which
a certificate is required under this section. The study shall meet all of the
requirements set forth in G.S. 113A‑4 and rules adopted pursuant to G.S. 113A‑4.
Notwithstanding G.S. 113A‑4(2), the study shall include secondary
and cumulative impacts. An environmental assessment shall be prepared for
any petition for a certificate under this section. The determination of whether
an environmental impact statement shall also be required shall be made in
accordance with the provisions of Article 1 of Chapter 113A of the General
Statutes; except that an environmental impact statement shall be prepared for
every proposed transfer of water from one major river basin to another for
which a certificate is required under this section. The applicant who petitions
the Commission for a certificate under this section shall pay the cost of
special studies necessary to comply with Article 1 of Chapter 113A of the
General Statutes. An environmental impact statement prepared pursuant to this
subsection shall include all of the following:
(1) A comprehensive analysis of the impacts that would occur in the source river basin and the receiving river basin if the petition for a certificate is granted.
(2) An evaluation of alternatives to the proposed interbasin transfer, including water supply sources that do not require an interbasin transfer and use of water conservation measures.
(3) A description of measures to mitigate any adverse impacts that may arise from the proposed interbasin transfer."
SECTION 8. This act is effective when it becomes law and applies to State agency action occurring on or after that date.
In the General Assembly read three times and ratified this the 8th day of June, 2015.
s/ Daniel J. Forest
President of the Senate
s/ Tim Moore
Speaker of the House of Representatives
s/ Pat McCrory
Approved 10:00 a.m. this 19th day of June, 2015