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  • Summary date: Apr 20 2023 - View Summary

    Enacts new Article 11, Rights of the Haw River Ecosystem Act, to GS Chapter 77 to recognize and protect the rights of the Haw River ecosystem and the right of the people of North Carolina to a healthy, thriving Haw River ecosystem. Defines Haw River ecosystem to include both its mainstem and tributaries, and all species and ecosystems found in those areas or dependent on species and ecosystems found in the watershed. Defines natural resource management agencies (the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, the Department of Environmental Quality, and the Wildlife Resources Commission).

    Enacts GS 77-148, specifying six non-exclusive rights of the Haw River ecosystem, including the right to full restoration, recovery, and preservation. Specifies that the rights of the Haw River ecosystem should not be interpreted to confer liabilities, duties, obligations, or responsibilities on the Haw River ecosystem except as expressly set forth in the Article. Recognizes the right of the people of the State to a healthy, flourishing Haw River ecosystem. Clarifies that the Article does not abrogate the collective or individual rights of indigenous people in the State, including members of tribes and bands identified in GS Chapter 71A. Enacts GS 77-151 directing the natural resource management agencies to take certain actions in implementing the act, including a baseline environmental assessment of the Haw River ecosystem in 2024 and full restoration of all areas of the Haw River ecosystem by June 30, 2028. Provides for civil enforcement of the act by the Attorney General, an action brought in the name of the Haw River Ecosystem by any citizen of the State. Sets forth rules for intervention and burdens of proof. Provides for civil penalties of up to $10,000 for a single occurrence, or up to $500 per day of a continuing occurrence, with each day constituting a separate offense, with triple damages for willful violations.  Provides for strict liability for certain business entities and waives sovereign immunity. 

    Contains severability clause.