Environmentalists, who described the legislative session as a “relentless assault” on clean air, water, and environmental safeguards, are praising Governor Bev Perdue’s decision to veto two controversial bills.
In vetoing Senate Bill 781 (Regulatory Reform Act of 2011), the governor said she supported efforts to to pass laws aimed at reducing bureaucracy, but this law would take final decision-making authority in certain circumstances away from state agencies and instead give it to the Office of Administrative Hearings – “a result that the Attorney General has repeatedly declared is in violation of the North Carolina Constitution.”
Jane Preyer, North Carolina’s director of Environmental Defense Fund, said the governor’s decision on SB 781 was the right call for the state:
“The veto sends a clear signal to legislators that rolling back regulations that protect the state’s environment is not a viable business plan for economic recovery or the well being of North Carolina’s families. Instead of cutting red tape, this bill creates mountains of new red tape that handcuff the state’s environmental watchdogs. The veto sends the strong message that North Carolina puts out the welcome map to industries that both create good jobs and respect our natural resources. Hats off to Governor Perdue for the veto.”
The second environmental bill to earn the veto stamp Thursday was Senate Bill 709, the so-called Energy Jobs Act.
Groups like EDF, the NC Sierra Club and the NC League of Conservation Voters worried this piece of legislation would promote offshore drilling, open the door to fracking, and restructure the NC Energy Policy Council into a one-sided panel of industry representatives.
From her perspective, the governor said SB 709 was “unconstitutional as it infringes on the powers assigned to the Governor of North Carolina.” Along with this veto, Perdue issued two Executive Orders establishing a new Offshore Wind Economic Development Task Force and expanding the Governor’s Scientific Advisory Panel on Energy.
Environment North Carolina praised the veto and said had 709 become law it would have seriously threatened coastal tourism:
“Gov. Perdue stood up for the state’s beaches today,” said Elizabeth Ouzts, state director of Environment North Carolina. “Senate Bill 709 puts our treasured coast at risk of a dangerous spill. Instead of creating jobs in wind and solar power, the bill threatens jobs in coastal fishing and tourism.”
For those keeping score, Governor Perdue has now vetoed 15 bills passed by the Republican-controlled legislature.