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North Carolina to make trip-reducing 'green' laws illegal

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Joe Mahoney/The Richmond Times-Dispatch/AP/File

(Read caption) A minor traffic accident on Northbound Interstate 95 near Ashland, Va., just north of Richmond, Va., slows traffic to a crawl on Saturday, March 30, 2013. A local ordinance encouraging businesses to prompt workers to carpool is on the verge of being outlawed by the state of North Carolina.

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Oh, North Carolina: Are you cutting off your nose to spite your face?

That's the impression at least some commentators have gained on learning of a state bill that will become law on August 25, with or without the signature of Gov. Pat McCrory.

The bill would invalidate Durham County's Commute Trip Reduction Ordinance, which requires some employers in the county to work toward encouraging carpooling and reducing the number of solo car trips made by employees.

As reported by WRAL, NC House Bill 74 would make such ordinances explicitly illegal.

Backers, including sponsor Rep. William Brawley [R-Mecklenberg], say such programs exceed the authority of a county.

They object in particular to specified fines of up to $1,000 for businesses that don't meet certain provisions--although county officials note that no company has actually ever been fined.

The county says it has met the goals of the bill, and vehicle miles traveled have actually fallen 20 percent within the county.

The goal is to reduce congestion and associated air pollution, along with overall energy usage.

The ordinance that's about to be rendered illegal required, among other things, that businesses designate an employee responsible for trip reduction efforts, and develop a plan that would encourage staff to cut their total driving time where feasible.

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