(a) Additional Powers. – In addition to the specific powers prescribed elsewhere in this Article, and for the purpose of carrying out its duties, the Commission shall have the power:
(1) To make rules implementing Articles 21, 21A, 21B, or 38 of this Chapter.
(1a) To adopt fee schedules and collect fees for the following:
a. Processing of applications for permits or registrations issued under Article 21, other than Parts 1 and 1A, Articles 21A, 21B, and 38 of this Chapter;
b. Administering permits or registrations issued under Article 21, other than Parts 1 and 1A, Articles 21A, 21B, and 38 of this Chapter including monitoring compliance with the terms of those permits; and
c. Reviewing, processing, and publicizing applications for construction grant awards under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act.
No fee may be charged under this provision, however, to a farmer who submits an application that pertains to his farming operations.
(1b) The fee to be charged pursuant to G.S. 143‑215.3(a)(1a) for processing an application for a permit under G.S. 143‑215.108 and G.S. 143‑215.109 of Article 21B of this Chapter may not exceed five hundred dollars ($500.00). The fee to be charged pursuant to G.S. 143‑215.3(a)(1a) for processing a registration under Part 2A of this Article or Article 38 of this Chapter may not exceed fifty dollars ($50.00) for any single registration. An additional fee of twenty percent (20%) of the registration processing fee may be assessed for a late registration under Article 38 of this Chapter. The fee for administering and compliance monitoring under Article 21, other than Parts 1 and 1A, and G.S. 143‑215.108 and G.S. 143‑215.109 of Article 21B shall be charged on an annual basis for each year of the permit term and may not exceed one thousand five hundred dollars ($1,500) per year. Fees for processing all permits under Article 21A and all other sections of Article 21B shall not exceed one hundred dollars ($100.00) for any single permit. The total payment for fees that are set by the Commission under this subsection for all permits for any single facility shall not exceed seven thousand five hundred dollars ($7,500) per year, which amount shall include all application fees and fees for administration and compliance monitoring. A single facility is defined to be any contiguous area under one ownership and in which permitted activities occur. For all permits issued under these Articles where a fee schedule is not specified in the statutes, the Commission, or other commission specified by statute shall adopt a fee schedule in a rule following the procedures established by the Administrative Procedure Act. Fee schedules shall be established to reflect the size of the emission or discharge, the potential impact on the environment, the staff costs involved, relative costs of the issuance of new permits and the reissuance of existing permits, and shall include adequate safeguards to prevent unusual fee assessments which would result in serious economic burden on an individual applicant. A system shall be considered to allow consolidated annual payments for persons with multiple permits. In its rulemaking to establish fee schedules, the Commission is also directed to consider a method of rewarding facilities which achieve full compliance with administrative and self‑monitoring reporting requirements, and to consider, in those cases where the cost of renewal or amendment of a permit is less than for the original permit, a lower fee for the renewal or amendment.
(1c) Moneys collected pursuant to G.S. 143‑215.3(a)(1a) shall be used to:
a. Eliminate, insofar as possible, backlogs of permit applications awaiting agency action;
b. Improve the quality of permits issued;
c. Improve the rate of compliance of permitted activities with environmental standards; and
d. Decrease the length of the processing period for permit applications.
(1d) The Commission may adopt and implement a graduated fee schedule sufficient to cover all direct and indirect costs required for the State to develop and administer a permit program which meets the requirements of Title V. The provisions of subdivision (1b) of this subsection do not apply to the adoption of a fee schedule under this subdivision. In adopting and implementing a fee schedule, the Commission shall require that the owner or operator of all air contaminant sources subject to the requirement to obtain a permit under Title V to pay an annual fee, or the equivalent over some other period, sufficient to cover costs as provided in section 502(b)(3)(A) of Title V. The fee schedule shall be adopted according to the procedures set out in Chapter 150B of the General Statutes.
a. The total amount of fees collected under the fee schedule adopted pursuant to this subdivision shall conform to the requirements of section 502(b)(3)(B) of Title V. No fee shall be collected for more than 4,000 tons per year of any individual regulated pollutant, as defined in section 502(b)(3)(B)(ii) of Title V, emitted by any source. Fees collected pursuant to this subdivision shall be credited to the Title V Account.
b. The Commission may reduce any permit fee required under this section to take into account the financial resources of small business stationary sources as defined under Title V and regulations promulgated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
c. When funds in the Title V Account exceed the total amount necessary to cover the cost of the Title V program for the next fiscal year, the Secretary shall reduce the amount billed for the next fiscal year so that the excess funds are used to supplement the cost of administering the Title V permit program in that fiscal year.
(1e) The Commission shall collect the application, annual, and project fees for processing and administering permits, certificates of coverage under general permits, and certifications issued under Parts 1 and 1A of this Article and for compliance monitoring under Parts 1 and 1A of this Article as provided in G.S. 143‑215.3D and G.S. 143‑215.10G.
(2) To direct that such investigation be conducted as it may reasonably deem necessary to carry out its duties as prescribed by this Article or Article 21A or Article 21B of this Chapter, and for this purpose to enter at reasonable times upon any property, public or private, for the purpose of investigating the condition of any waters and the discharge therein of any sewage, industrial waste, or other waste or for the purpose of investigating the condition of the air, air pollution, air contaminant sources, emissions, or the installation and operation of any air‑cleaning devices, and to require written statements or the filing of reports under oath, with respect to pertinent questions relating to the operation of any air‑cleaning device, sewer system, disposal system, or treatment works. In the case of effluent or emission data, any records, reports, or information obtained under this Article or Article 21A or Article 21B of this Chapter shall be related to any applicable effluent or emission limitations or toxic, pretreatment, or new source performance standards. No person shall refuse entry or access to any authorized representative of the Commission or Department who requests entry for purposes of inspection, and who presents appropriate credentials, nor shall any person obstruct, hamper or interfere with any such representative while in the process of carrying out his official duties.
(3) To conduct public hearings and to delegate the power to conduct public hearings in accordance with the procedures prescribed by this Article or by Article 21B of this Chapter.
(4) To delegate such of the powers of the Commission as the Commission deems necessary to one or more of its members, to the Secretary or any other qualified employee of the Department. The Commission shall not delegate to persons other than its own members and the designated employees of the Department the power to conduct hearings with respect to the classification of waters, the assignment of classifications, air quality standards, air contaminant source classifications, emission control standards, or the issuance of any special order except in the case of an emergency under subdivision (12) of this subsection for the abatement of existing water or air pollution. Any employee of the Department to whom a delegation of power is made to conduct a hearing shall report the hearing with its evidence and record to the Commission.
(5) To institute such actions in the superior court of any county in which a violation of this Article, Article 21B of this Chapter, or the rules of the Commission has occurred, or, in the discretion of the Commission, in the superior court of the county in which any defendant resides, or has his or its principal place of business, as the Commission may deem necessary for the enforcement of any of the provisions of this Article, Article 21B of this Chapter, or of any official action of the Commission, including proceedings to enforce subpoenas or for the punishment of contempt of the Commission.
(6) To agree upon or enter into any settlements or compromises of any actions and to prosecute any appeals or other proceedings.
(7) To direct the investigation of any killing of fish and wildlife which, in the opinion of the Commission, is of sufficient magnitude to justify investigation and is known or believed to have resulted from the pollution of the waters or air as defined in this Article, and whenever any person, whether or not he shall have been issued a certificate of approval, permit or other document of approval authorized by this or any other State law, has negligently, or carelessly or unlawfully, or willfully and unlawfully, caused pollution of the waters or air as defined in this Article, in such quantity, concentration or manner that fish or wildlife are killed as the result thereof, the Commission, may recover, in the name of the State, damages from such person. The measure of damages shall be the amount determined by the Department and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, whichever has jurisdiction over the fish and wildlife destroyed to be the replacement cost thereof plus the cost of all reasonable and necessary investigations made or caused to be made by the State in connection therewith. Upon receipt of the estimate of damages caused, the Department shall notify the persons responsible for the destruction of the fish or wildlife in question and may effect such settlement as the Commission may deem proper and reasonable, and if no settlement is reached within a reasonable time, the Commission shall bring a civil action to recover such damages in the superior court in the county in which the discharge took place. Upon such action being brought the superior court shall have jurisdiction to hear and determine all issues or questions of law or fact, arising on the pleadings, including issues of liability and the amount of damages. On such hearing, the estimate of the replacement costs of the fish or wildlife destroyed shall be prima facie evidence of the actual replacement costs of such fish or wildlife. In arriving at such estimate, any reasonably accurate method may be used and it shall not be necessary for any agent of the Wildlife Resources Commission or the Department to collect, handle or weigh numerous specimens of dead fish or wildlife.
The State of North Carolina shall be deemed the owner of the fish or wildlife killed and all actions for recovery shall be brought by the Commission on behalf of the State as the owner of the fish or wildlife. The fact that the person or persons alleged to be responsible for the pollution which killed the fish or wildlife holds or has held a certificate of approval, permit or other document of approval authorized by this Article or any other law of the State shall not bar any such action. The proceeds of any recovery, less the cost of investigation, shall be used to replace, insofar as and as promptly as possible, the fish and wildlife killed, or in cases where replacement is not practicable, the proceeds shall be used in whatever manner the responsible agency deems proper for improving the fish and wildlife habitat in question. Any such funds received are hereby appropriated for these designated purposes. Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed in any way to limit or prevent any other action which is now authorized by this Article.
(8) After issuance of an appropriate order, to withhold the granting of any permit or permits pursuant to G.S. 143‑215.1 or G.S. 143‑215.108 for the construction or operation of any new or additional disposal system or systems or air‑cleaning device or devices in any area of the State. Such order may be issued only upon determination by the Commission, after public hearing, that the permitting of any new or additional source or sources of water or air pollution will result in a generalized condition of water or air pollution within the area contrary to the public interest, detrimental to the public health, safety, and welfare, and contrary to the policy and intent declared in this Article or Article 21B of this Chapter. The Commission may make reasonable distinctions among the various sources of water and air pollution and may direct that its order shall apply only to those sources which it determines will result in a generalized condition of water or air pollution.
The determination of the Commission shall be supported by detailed findings of fact and conclusions set forth in the order and based upon competent evidence of record. The order shall describe the geographical area of the State affected thereby with particularity and shall prohibit the issuance of permits pending a determination by the Commission that the generalized condition of water or air pollution has ceased.
Notice of hearing shall be given in accordance with the provisions of G.S. 150B‑21.2.
A person aggrieved by an order of the Commission under this subdivision may seek judicial review of the order under Article 4 of Chapter 150B of the General Statutes without first commencing a contested case. An order may not be stayed while it is being reviewed.
(9) If an investigation conducted pursuant to this Article or Article 21B of this Chapter reveals a violation of any rules, standards, or limitations adopted by the Commission pursuant to this Article or Article 21B of this Chapter, or a violation of any terms or conditions of any permit issued pursuant to G.S. 143‑215.1 or 143‑215.108, or special order or other document issued pursuant to G.S. 143‑215.2 or G.S. 143‑215.110, the Commission may assess the reasonable costs of any investigation, inspection or monitoring survey which revealed the violation against the person responsible therefor. If the violation resulted in an unauthorized discharge to the waters or atmosphere of the State, the Commission may also assess the person responsible for the violation for any actual and necessary costs incurred by the State in removing, correcting or abating any adverse effects upon the water or air resulting from the unauthorized discharge. If the person responsible for the violation refuses or fails within a reasonable time to pay any sums assessed, the Commission may institute a civil action in the superior court of the county in which the violation occurred or, in the Commission's discretion, in the superior court of the county in which such person resides or has his or its principal place of business, to recover such sums.
(10) To require a laboratory facility that performs any tests, analyses, measurements, or monitoring required under this Article or Article 21B of this Chapter to be certified annually by the Department, to establish standards that a laboratory facility and its employees must meet and maintain in order for the laboratory facility to be certified, and to charge a laboratory facility a fee for certification. Fees collected under this subdivision shall be credited to the Water and Air Account and used to administer this subdivision. These fees shall be applied to the cost of certifying commercial, industrial, and municipal laboratory facilities.
(11) Repealed by Session Laws 1983, c. 296, s. 6.
(12) To declare an emergency when it finds that a generalized condition of water or air pollution which is causing imminent danger to the health or safety of the public. Regardless of any other provisions of law, if the Department finds that such a condition of water or air pollution exists and that it creates an emergency requiring immediate action to protect the public health and safety or to protect fish and wildlife, the Secretary of the Department with the concurrence of the Governor, shall order persons causing or contributing to the water or air pollution in question to reduce or discontinue immediately the emission of air contaminants or the discharge of wastes. Immediately after the issuance of such order, the chairman of the Commission shall fix a place and time for a hearing before the Commission to be held within 24 hours after issuance of such order, and within 24 hours after the commencement of such hearing, and without adjournment thereof, the Commission shall either affirm, modify or set aside the order.
In the absence of a generalized condition of air or water pollution of the type referred to above, if the Secretary finds that the emissions from one or more air contaminant sources or the discharge of wastes from one or more sources of water pollution is causing imminent danger to human health and safety or to fish and wildlife, he may with the concurrence of the Governor order the person or persons responsible for the operation or operations in question to immediately reduce or discontinue the emissions of air contaminants or the discharge of wastes or to take such other measures as are, in his judgment, necessary, without regard to any other provisions of this Article or Article 21B of this Chapter. In such event, the requirements for hearing and affirmance, modification or setting aside of such orders set forth in the preceding paragraph of this subdivision shall apply.
(13) Repealed by Session Laws 1983, c. 296, s. 6.
(14) To certify and approve, by appropriate delegations and conditions in permits required by G.S. 143‑215.1, requests by publicly owned treatment works to implement, administer and enforce a pretreatment program for the control of pollutants which pass through or interfere with treatment processes in such treatment works; and to require such programs to be developed where necessary to comply with the Federal Water Pollution Control Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, including the addition of conditions and compliance schedules in permits required by G.S. 143‑215.1. Pretreatment programs submitted by publicly owned treatment works shall include, at a minimum, the adoption of pretreatment standards, a permit or equally effective system for the control of pollutants contributed to the treatment works, and the ability to effectively enforce compliance with the program.
(15) To adopt rules for the prevention of pollution from underground tanks containing petroleum, petroleum products, or hazardous substances. Rules adopted under this section may incorporate standards and restrictions which exceed and are more comprehensive than comparable federal regulations.
(16) To adopt rules limiting the manufacture, storage, sale, distribution or use of cleaning agents containing phosphorus pursuant to G.S. 143‑214.4(e), and to adopt rules limiting the manufacture, storage, sale, distribution or use of cleaning agents containing nitrilotriacetic acid.
(17) To adopt rules to implement Part 2A of Article 21A of Chapter 143.
(b) Research Functions. – The Department shall have the power to conduct scientific experiments, research, and investigations to discover economical and practical corrective methods for air pollution and waste disposal problems. To this end, the Department may cooperate with any public or private agency or agencies in the conduct of such experiments, research, and investigations, and may, when funds permit, establish research studies in any North Carolina educational institution, with the consent of such institution. In addition, the Department shall have the power to cooperate and enter into contracts with technical divisions of State agencies, institutions and with municipalities, industries, and other persons in the execution of such surveys, studies, and research as it may deem necessary in fulfilling its functions under this Article or Article 21B of this Chapter. All State departments shall advise with and cooperate with the Department on matters of mutual interest.
(c) Relation with the Federal Government. – The Commission as official water and air pollution control agency for the State is delegated to act in local administration of all matters covered by any existing federal statutes and future legislation by Congress relating to water and air quality control. In order for the State of North Carolina to effectively participate in programs administered by federal agencies for the regulation and abatement of water and air pollution, the Department is authorized to accept and administer funds provided by federal agencies for water and air pollution programs and to enter into contracts with federal agencies regarding the use of such funds.
(d) Relations with Other States. – The Commission or the Department may, with the approval of the Governor, consult with qualified representatives of adjoining states relative to the establishment of regulations for the protection of waters and air of mutual interest, but the approval of the General Assembly shall be required to make any regulations binding.
(e) Variances. – Any person subject to the provisions of G.S. 143‑215.1 or 143‑215.108 may apply to the Commission for a variance from rules, standards, or limitations established pursuant to G.S. 143‑214.1, 143‑215, or 143‑215.107. The Commission may grant such variance, for fixed or indefinite periods after public hearing on due notice, or where it is found that circumstances so require, for a period not to exceed 90 days without prior hearing and notice. Prior to granting a variance hereunder, the Commission shall find that:
(1) The discharge of waste or the emission of air contaminants occurring or proposed to occur do not endanger human health or safety; and
(2) Compliance with the rules, standards, or limitations from which variance is sought cannot be achieved by application of best available technology found to be economically reasonable at the time of application for such variances, and would produce serious hardship without equal or greater benefits to the public, provided that such variances shall be consistent with the provisions of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act as amended or the Clean Air Act as amended; and provided further, that any person who would otherwise be entitled to a variance or modification under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act as amended or the Clean Air Act as amended shall also be entitled to the same variance from or modification in rules, standards, or limitations established pursuant to G.S. 143‑214.1, 143‑215, and 143‑215.107, respectively.
(f) Notification of Completed Remedial Action. – The definitions set out in G.S. 130A‑310.31(b) apply to this subsection. Any person may submit a written request to the Department for a determination that groundwater has been remediated to meet the standards and classifications established under this Part. A request for a determination that groundwater has been remediated to meet the standards and classifications established under this Part shall be accompanied by the fee required by G.S. 130A‑310.39(a)(2). If the Department determines that groundwater has been remediated to established standards and classifications, the Department shall issue a written notification that no further remediation of the groundwater will be required. The notification shall state that no further remediation of the groundwater will be required unless the Department later determines, based on new information or information not previously provided to the Department, that the groundwater has not been remediated to established standards and classifications or that the Department was provided with false or incomplete information. Under any of those circumstances, the Department may withdraw the notification and require responsible parties to remediate the groundwater to established standards and classifications. (1951, c. 606; 1957, c. 1267, s. 3; 1959, c. 779, s. 8; 1963, c. 1086; 1967, c. 892, s. 1; 1969, c. 538; 1971, c. 1167, ss. 7, 8; 1973, c. 698, ss. 1‑7, 9, 17; c. 712, s. 1; c. 1262, ss. 23, 86; c. 1331, s. 3; 1975, c. 583, ss. 5, 6; c. 655, s. 3; 1977, c. 771, s. 4; 1979, c. 633, ss. 6‑8; 1979, 2nd Sess., c. 1158, ss. 1, 3, 4; 1983, c. 296, ss. 5‑8; 1985, c. 551, s. 2; 1987, c. 111, s. 2; c. 767, s. 1; c. 827, ss. 1, 154, 161, 266; 1987 (Reg. Sess., 1988), c. 1035, s. 2; 1989, c. 500, s. 122; c. 652, s. 1; 1991, c. 552, ss. 2, 11; c. 712, s. 2; 1991 (Reg. Sess., 1992), c. 890, s. 16; c. 1039, ss. 14, 20.1; 1993, c. 344, s. 2; c. 400, ss. 1(c), 2, 3, 15; c. 496, s. 4; 1993 (Reg. Sess., 1994), c. 694, s. 1; 1995, c. 484, s. 5; 1997‑357, s. 6; 1997‑496, s. 4; 1998‑212, s. 29A.11(b).)