Article 21.

Water and Air Resources.

Part 1. Organization and Powers Generally; Control of Pollution.

§ 143‑211.  Declaration of public policy.

(a) It is hereby declared to be the public policy of this State to provide for the conservation of its water and air resources. Furthermore, it is the intent of the General Assembly, within the context of this Article and Articles 21A and 21B of this Chapter, to achieve and to maintain for the citizens of the State a total environment of superior quality. Recognizing that the water and air resources of the State belong to the people, the General Assembly affirms the State's ultimate responsibility for the preservation and development of these resources in the best interest of all its citizens and declares the prudent utilization of these resources to be essential to the general welfare.

(b) It is the public policy of the State to maintain, protect, and enhance water quality within North Carolina. Further, it is the public policy of the State that the cumulative impact of transfers from a source river basin shall not result in a violation of the antidegradation policy set out in 40 Code of Federal Regulations § 131.12 (1 July 1997 Edition) and the statewide antidegradation policy adopted pursuant thereto.

(c) It is the purpose of this Article to create an agency which shall administer a program of water and air pollution control and water resource management. It is the intent of the General Assembly, through the duties and powers defined herein, to confer such authority upon the Department of Environmental Quality as shall be necessary to administer a complete program of water and air conservation, pollution abatement and control and to achieve a coordinated effort of pollution abatement and control with other jurisdictions. Standards of water and air purity shall be designed to protect human health, to prevent injury to plant and animal life, to prevent damage to public and private property, to insure the continued enjoyment of the natural attractions of the State, to encourage the expansion of employment opportunities, to provide a permanent foundation for healthy industrial development and to secure for the people of North Carolina, now and in the future, the beneficial uses of these great natural resources. It is the intent of the General Assembly that the powers and duties of the Environmental Management Commission and the Department of Environmental Quality be construed so as to enable the Department and the Commission to qualify to administer federally mandated programs of environmental management and to qualify to accept and administer funds from the federal government for such programs. (1951, c. 606; 1967, c. 892, s. 1; 1973, c. 1262, s. 23; 1977, c. 771, s. 4; 1979, 2nd Sess., c. 1158, s. 2; 1989, c. 135, s. 1; c. 727, s. 218(102); 1997‑443, s. 11A.119(a); 1998‑168, s. 1; 2006‑259, ss. 31(b), 31(c); 2015‑241, s. 14.30(u).)