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  • Summary date: Apr 30 2024 - View Summary

    Contains whereas clauses. Enacts the Rights of the Dan River Ecosystem (DRE), new Article 11 to GS Chapter 77, to recognize and protect the rights of the DRE and the right of the people of the State to a healthy, thriving DRE.  Defines DRE and natural resource management agencies (Department of Natural and Cultural Resources [DNCR], Department of Environmental Quality [DEQ], and Wildlife Resources Commission [WRC] in GS 77-147. Lists six enumerated rights of the DRE including the right to naturally exist, flourish, regenerate and evolve and the right to full restoration, recovery, and preservation in GS 77-148.  Specifies that new Article does not abrogate the collective or individual rights of indigenous people residing in the State in GS 77-150. Requires DNCR, DEQ, and WRC to take action in furtherance of the act’s purpose in GS 77-151, including to:

    • (1) not conduct, authorize, license, permit, or fund any public or private activities, practices, or operations that are inconsistent with, or which will or may violate or infringe upon, the rights or provisions of the article and (2) conduct agency rules and practices review and jointly conduct a complete baseline environmental assessment of the DRE to include those areas in need of restoration and prioritize those areas by June 30, 2025; 
    • remedy any ongoing violations identified above and develop recommendations for remedying any potential or ongoing violation identified above and submit a report for recommendation to the NCGA by June 30, 2026; and
    • completely restore all areas of the DRE by June 30, 2029.

    New GS 77-152 provides for civil enforcement by the Attorney General, the DRE (both directly and through intervention), and by citizens on behalf of the DRE or individually. Places the burden of proof on the alleged violator in any action. Provides for injunctive relief, damages, and civil penalties of up to $10,000 for a single occurrence or up to $500 per day for a single occurrence for business or government violators. Penalties for willful violations are trebled. Waives sovereign immunity. Provides for strict liability for business entities. Contains severability provision. Provides for a measure of damages.

    Appropriates $100,000 from the General Fund to DNCR, DEQ, and WRC  to carry out the reviews assessment listed above.