Gov. Roy Cooper has vetoed a bill that would limit the amount of damages nearby property owners can collect if a court rules that smells from hog and poultry farms are a nuisance The governor also has signed a Republican-backed bill that rolls back some state regulations on the environment, business and government agencies.
The nuisance bill now goes back to the legislature, where lawmakers will have a chance to override it. It passed the House and Senate last week by veto-proof margins.
In announcing the veto Friday morning, Cooper called the nuisance lawsuit bill "special protection" for one industry. He said it could set a precedent that would lead to weakening protections in other areas for homeowners.
"Nuisance laws can be used to protect property rights and make changes for good," Cooper said in a statement Friday. "We used nuisance laws to force the Tennessee Valley Authority to stop air pollution from flowing into North Carolina and we won damages to improve air quality."
The governor signed into law the General Assembly's Regulatory Reform Act of 2016-17. Democrats criticized the bill, saying some changes could hurt the environment. Republicans say it eliminates unneeded or outdated regulations in the state statutes.
One part of the bill would double the area around streams that can be disturbed during development. Democrats and environmentalists worry the change could endanger drinking water and lead to more flooding.
Other provisions of the reform bill will:
- Relax the rules for beach restoration projects, by allowing sand to be mined from coastal shoals, even if it's not compatible with sand it's replacing.
- Exempt landscaping materials from storm water rules.
- Reduce some state environmental reporting requirements.
- Exempts more than two dozen counties from vehicle emissions inspections.
- Exempt storage facilities and some other buildings from energy efficiency standards.
- Protect large companies by clarifying that that franchisees and their employees are not employees of the parent company.