NC Toxics Program Magnifies GOP Mistrust Of Agency

Republicans at the North Carolina General Assembly appear ready to try to scale back a state pollution control program housed in a department that's been met with mistrust by some GOP lawmakers.

A legislative committee has spent recent weeks collecting information about the state Air Toxics Program, which evaluates how nearly 100 pollutants discharged from industrial operations could increase health risks for surrounding residents. Business interests call the program redundant with a federal program. Environmentalists disagree.

Committee co-chairman Rep. Mitch Gillespie of Marion said he doesn't want to abolish the program like some lawmakers tried to do in this year's session. Still, scaling back the program would be another setback for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, which saw its budget cut by 12 percent this year.

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