Environment North Carolina’s 2024 Program Agenda

We outline our program priorities for 2024, which includes protecting some of North Carolina's oldest trees, securing more funding for North Carolina's threatened wildlife, and investing in more clean, renewable energy.

Beyond plastic


MarksPursuit | Shutterstock.com
Tall trees reaching upward

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Environment North Carolina is a policy and action group with one mission: to restore and protect the natural world. Our staff works for clean air, clean water, clean energy, wildlife, open spaces, and a livable climate. Our members across the state put grassroots support behind our research and advocacy. Environment North Carolina is part of Environment America, a national network of 30 state environmental groups. Here are our priorities for 2024:

Wildlife and Wild Places: 

From the mountains to the coastline, North Carolina is home to an array of priceless green spaces, waterways, and wildlife. And yet, pollution and development threaten even our most pristine places. In order to protect biodiversity on our planet, scientists recommend that we protect 30% of our land by 2030 and 50% by 2050. We support: 

  • The protection of mature and old growth trees and forests from logging and other destructive activities.
  • The creation and expansion of more parks, forests, reserves, refuges and recreation areas, both for nature’s sake and for the enjoyment of the public. 
  • Government procurement policies that help protect global forests, including the North American boreal and tropical forests, by requiring that commodities such as pulp, soy, palm oil and beef are grown/raised without the destruction of key forests.
  • The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, currently pending in Congress, which would give money to the states each year to protect vulnerable species in our state, like the red wolf, the leatherback turtle,  the magnificent ramshorn snail, and the peregrine falcon. 
  • The funding and/or protection of more wildlife corridors and safe passage for wildlife across roadways, which could include open space, bridges or underpasses to allow creatures to move throughout their natural habitat. 
  • Special efforts to protect pollinators, which have a unique role to play in protecting biodiversity. We’re working to establish and expand bee habitats through tools like roadside pollinator strips and stop the use of bee-killing pesticides.
USFWS | Public Domain

Clean Water:

If we want a greener, healthier world we need to protect our rivers, lakes, streams and coast. Clean water is vital to ecosystems, to our health, and our quality of life. But too many of our rivers, lakes, streams and coastal areas are vulnerable to pollution. This pollution, along with outdated infrastructure – like lead pipes in our schools – puts our health at risk. We need to work together to protect our waters. We support: 

  • Stronger protections in the states for wetlands and streams – including stricter permitting, applying conservation funding, and expanding waters with protective designations.   
  • Requiring water utilities to fully replace all lead service lines over the next ten years, as the EPA has recently proposed to do 
  • Requiring schools and child care centers to replace fountains with lead-filtering water bottle stations, and install filters certified to remove lead at all other taps used for cooking and drinking, as Michigan has recently doneLearn more.
  • Limiting the use of PFAS in consumer products, barring companies from dumping PFAS into our rivers, cleaning up PFAS contamination in our water and communities, and holding industry accountable for damage they have caused. Learn more.
  • Make our beaches and other waters safer for swimming by funding projects to prevent sewage overflows and runoff pollution. Learn more.
clean tap water
Sonsart | Shutterstock.com

Clean, Green, Renewable Energy: 

It’s time for our country to conserve more energy, use the energy we do have more wisely and efficiently, and rely only on sources of energy that are clean, renewable and leave less environmental damage in their wake. Improving energy efficiency saves energy, lowers bills, makes homes and workplaces more comfortable and reduces pollution. For decades, we have had the power to harness clean, abundant energy from the sun and the wind and in 2024, it can be done more efficiently and cheaply than ever before. We support: 

  • Appliance efficiency standards and building codes and standards that incentivize conservation, efficiency, and clean electricity over gas consumption.
  • Policies that put states on the path to 100% clean, renewable energy. Twelve states have codified commitments to 100% clean or renewable energy already, and we’re working to both add more states to the list, and accelerate the transition as quickly as is feasible. Learn more.
  • Policies that expand the use of solar energy by more homes and businesses, by ensuring solar panel users are paid fairly for the solar energy they send back into the grid. States can also expand the use of solar along highways, on parking lots and warehouses. 
  • A plan for new wind farms, both onshore and offshore. Wind power is a key component in our energy future. It’s a huge new harvest from America’s fields and farms, providing nearly three times the electricity it did 10 years ago. But the big, steady winds that blow off our coasts remain a largely untapped resource.
  • Building out electric battery energy storage in combination with solar and wind, to allow us to reap more renewable energy, while also building a more resilient and reliable grid that delivers clean power when and where we need it most.
Roschetsky Photography | Shutterstock.com
residential rooftop solar panels

Clean transportation choices: 

We simply can’t solve global warming without changing how we all get around. Transportation is the largest source of emissions in North Carolina, representing 36% of all greenhouse gas emissions in our state. Air pollution and high asthma rates are just a few of the symptoms attributable to a transportation system that relies heavily on congested roads and polluting cars. We support: 

  • Expanded and improved pedestrian walkways, bike lanes, rail and bus systems to help residents get around with less congestion and pollution. 
  • The adoption of Advanced Clean Cars standards to require car manufacturers to sell more clean, zero emission vehicle options
  • Significant state investments in electric vehicle charging infrastructure
  • Requirements for all school buses to be electric
Alana Miller | TPIN
electric vehicles charging

Less Waste:

Every day people are throwing away tons of single-use cups, containers and other plastic “stuff.” Among the most common and hazardous forms of plastic pollution are polystyrene foam containers (the stuff most of us call Styrofoam) and single-use plastic bags, which persist in the environment for hundreds of years. Nothing we use for a few minutes should be allowed to pollute our oceans and rivers and threaten wildlife for centuries. We’re also working to extend the life of myriad other products to reduce waste and save consumers money. We support: 

  • Bans on the most wasteful single use plastic products. Learn more
  • The Plastic Pellet Free Waters Act in Congress, which would “prohibit the discharge of plastic pellets and other pre-production plastic into waterways from facilities and sources that make, use, package, or transport pellets.” Learn more.
  • Strong producer responsibility laws to hold companies responsible for the waste their products create and incentivize less and better packaging design in the first place.
  • Right to repair laws for products ranging from consumer electronics to farm equipment to wheelchairs to medical technology. Right to repair laws have already passed in New York, Minnesota, Colorado, and California. 
  • Repair scores to help consumers identify which products are easiest to fix.
Brian Yurasits | Unsplash.com

Emily Mason

Advocate, Environment North Carolina

Emily advocates for cleaner air, water, clean energy and protecting wildlife and wild places in North Carolina. Emily lives in Cary, North Carolina, where she enjoys trying new recipes and kayaking.

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