Environmental groups blasts legislative “power grab”

North Carolina’s leading environmentalists are blasting a sweeping bill introduced Tuesday in the Senate Rules Committee that would immediately fire dozens of sitting members on several important boards and commissions.SB10reax

The Proposed Committee Substitute (PCS) for Senate Bill 10 would upon ratification expel those serving on the Environmental Management Commission, the Utilities Commission, the Coastal Resources Commission, the Wildlife Resources Commission and several others bodies. The legislature and the Governor would then appoint more like-minded replacements.

“This administration should begin to wield its power,” said Senator Bill Rabon, one of the bill’s primary sponsors.

The head of the NC Sierra Club said in a statement SB 10 places hyper-partisan politics over the orderly conduct of the public’s business:

“This is an unwarranted and ruthless attack on environmental boards and commissions whose job it is to serve the public,” said Molly Diggins, state director of the NC Sierra Club. “Removing current members will create a vacuum of institutional memory and expertise, and will deprive the public of proper functioning government.

Many of these bodies are tasked with developing and maintaining safeguards for North Carolinians.  “The public will pay the price  for upending the smooth and orderly transition of appointments.  Well-functioning commissions are essential to  ensuring proper protections for our air and water,” added Diggins.

Todd Miller, executive director of the N.C. Coastal Federation, says the bill is clearly intended to put the foxes “completely in charge of the hen house.” Here’s more from the Federation’s release:

“This is a power grab by a small handful of economic interests that profit off of the use of our environment,” said Todd Miller, executive director of the N.C. Coastal Federation.

The Governor will also lose much of his power to shape these administrative commissions. Four of the eleven CRC members will now be appointed by the legislature instead of the entire 15 members being appointed by the Governor as now occurs. In the case of the EMC, six of its 13 members would be appointed by the legislature. Currently, the Governor appoints 13 of the commission’s 19 members.

“Over the years, state leaders from both parties have tried to form partnerships to balance all our state’s interests as a way to manage our environment,” Miller said. “The philosophy was to bring everyone to the table, and to work together to resolve vexing environmental needs and issues. This bill trashes that concept in favor of concentrating power among a much less diverse set of environmental stakeholders.”

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