I don't always do what the doctor says, but this time he's on the money:
The intent of the air toxics program - which is distinct from technology-based federal programs aimed at toxins of concern on a national level - is safeguarding the health of North Carolinians, by protecting communities near heavy industry from exposure to levels of toxic air pollutants that have been determined to create harmful health effects. And the program is working. Since adoption of the rules, there has been a steady decline in reported toxic air emissions--emissions reported in 2009 were about one-third the levels reported in 1998.
Which in free-market-ese translates to: Our air is much cleaner than it used to be! We don't need these burdensome regulations anymore!
When drafting the North Carolina rules in 1990, our state's Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) identified toxic air pollutants emitted in North Carolina that could harm the health of North Carolinians. During 2010, North Carolina industries self-reported releasing over 34 million pounds of toxic substances and nearly 1.5 million pounds of cancer causing chemicals in air emissions. These emissions included PCBs, dioxins, asbestos, arsenic, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, mercury, selenium, formaldehyde, cyanide, benzene, toluene and dozens of known carcinogens that are covered by existing state regulations designed to protect the public health.
Federal rules are source-specific and do not address all emission sources at a facility. For example, federal rules for pulp and paper mills don't cover sources that account for about 37% of facility-wide toxic air emissions. In addition, federal rules set standards for only a limited number of pollutants and do not address all air toxics. In the case of pulp and paper mills, these rules do not cover 11 compounds such as ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, and methyl mercaptan that are evaluated under the state program because they are considered a health threat locally, despite not rising to the concern level nationally.
Once again, for those Legislators who can't seem to grasp it: For the most part, Federal regulations (via the EPA) and state regulations (via DENR) are not duplicative, they're complementary. And that's by design, not accident.
Efforts by industry (and their elected lackies) to pit the two against each other are driven by one purpose, and one purpose only: To create loopholes in the regulatory framework that will allow them to (once again) pollute our air and water indiscriminately, placing our health and welfare at risk, with nothing but a P&L statement to guide their behavior.