North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality’s Budget Cut

On April 10, 2018, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper requested that the state legislature approve nearly $15 million in additional funding for environmental and public health departments. Governor Cooper indicated that much of the funding would be used to address water contamination. His administration requested $2.6 million for public health and water monitoring efforts, which would be used (in part) to employ an additional 50 people, including a number of scientists, to collect and test water samples. The legislature did not, however, act on that request.

In the state budget for fiscal year 2018-19, adopted on June 22, 2018, the North Carolina legislature reduced funding for the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) by $1.8 million. This follows several years of large cuts in the DEQ’s budget, which have reportedly forced it to lay off staff. According to a report in the North Carolina News and Observer:

“Between 2009 and 2016, both the Water Supply Protection division of DEQ and the agency’s seven regional offices have lost about a third of their employees. Water Supply Protection’s staffing dropped from 92 to 65 full-time equivalents, and the field offices’ staffing dropped from 73 to 50.”