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By 2013, the legislature had cut the budget of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (now the Department of Environmental Quality) by 40 percent, greatly diminishing its capacity to protect the state’s air, water, and land. In 2013, the new state administration even changed the mission of the agency to clarify that it is a “customer service” agency where science contains a “diversity of perspectives,” and employees were admonished not to be “obstacles of resistance” in carrying out their charge to protect the environment. With each passing week and each new policy, it becomes clearer that the customers the Department of Environmental Quality serves are the polluters, not the citizens of North Carolina.
The report gives a brief summary of all the advances in environmental stewardship that took place in the two decades leading up to the Republican takeover of state government, but what it cannot detail is the massive loss of institutional knowledge that 40% cut produced. Read the whole thing, there's a lot of information that can help a layperson understand all the challenges we face, and what needs to be done to mitigate those problems.