The Voice of Business, Industry & the Professions Since 1942
North Carolina's largest business group proudly serves as the state chamber of commerce

Sustainable Development And Growth Planning

Position: Sustainability has been defined as a socioeconomic state where the demands placed upon the environment by people and commerce can be met without reducing the capacity of the environment to provide for future generations. NCCBI agrees that this should be a goal for government, business and industry in development and growth planning in North Carolina.However, setting criteria for sustainability is difficult. It must be accomplished based on understandable, rational and scientifically justified principles developed jointly by government and the private sector. In doing so, it is important to distinguish the appropriate roles for government and for business and industry.

Explanation: Private business and industry can best determine demand and production needs, allocate resources, and make locational decisions to meet those needs. Industries that depend on natural resources have a long-range economic incentive to use those resources conservatively. Consequently, the principle of allowing the market to guide use of land and resources generally has served our economy and allocated our natural resources well. However, we must acknowledge that the pureley market-based viewpoint sometimes is too late or ineffective in considering environmental impacts and depletion of natural resources. State government plays a legitimate role in setting limits regarding environmental impacts and use of natural resources and incentives for their protection and conservation.

Appropriate roles of State government are:

1.   To incorporate the concept of sustainability into educational programs, including curriculum for public schools.

2.   To create and expand incentives through tax policies and other methods for waste recycling, reuse, recovery, and treatment and for pollution control and reduction. Creative means for encouraging recycling and reuse of land and facilities, for example the Brownfields program, should be developed.

3.   To develop transportation priorities encouraging mass transit and other alternative means of transportation that will reduce environmental and natural resources impacts.

4.   To create incentives for replacement of renewable resources.

5.   To plan and develop, in consultation with business and industry, criteria for measuring sustainability.  Such criteria should be: based on science or other measurable values for which there is a clear consensus; understandable so that their application is predictable; uniformly applied so that businesses and industries will be playing on an even field with each other; and focused on measuring environmental impacts and natural resource use consumption rather than production limits or other markets-related factors.

Any planning, development and implementation of sustainability criteria should have a regional or resource-wide perspective, for example through river basis associations. Innovative means of meeting criteria or limits for the resource in question on a resource-wide basis, rather than through individual regulatory limits, should be explored and developed. Means and criteria for mitigating or off-setting impacts should also be developed.

Once criteria are established, business and industry can apply them in planning, location and expansion decisions. In this way growth will be guided to areas that can sustain it. Local governments should assume authority to plan for compatibility of various types of development through zoning and other land use tools. However, criteria for environmental and natural resource sustainability should be set by the State and should be as consistent as possible throughout the State.  Local government planning and ordinances should be based on and consistent with such criteria, and should not be used arbitrarily for purely exclusionary or no-growth purposes.

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Administrative Procedures Act / Regulatory Reform
Air Quality
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Endangered Species/Critical Habitats
Environmental Protection Policy
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Executive Summary
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