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Commissioners surprised at changes to water rules

RALEIGH — Some members of a North Carolina environmental commission say they’re upset that rules they’d worked on for years to protect streams have been rewritten in private by state regulators.

Environmental Management Commission Chairman Benne Hutson says that can’t happen again.

At issue are stream buffer rules to protect waterways. The Raleigh News & Observer reported (http://bit.ly/1mPgILm ) the Environmental Management Commission approved new rules last year. The state’s Rules Review Commission did the same this month.

But if 10 objections are filed, the General Assembly must vote on the rules. That happened in this case, but four objections came from state Department of Environment and Natural Resources employees.

The department formed a small group and rewrote the rules. Lawmakers then directed the commission to adopt them on a temporary basis.

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