Frank Tursi at the Coastal Federation posted a remarkable story yesterday that shines a light on two of the McCrory administration’s favorite practices: 1) turning down federal money that would promote the common good (and thereby sending it off to other states) and 2) sticking its head in the sand when it comes to our ever-more fragile natural environment. This is from the story:
“RALEIGH – Saying they don’t need the money to meet their new mission, state environmental officials recently turned down almost $600,000 in federal grants. The money would have been used to set up a network of sites to begin testing streams in the Piedmont where natural gas production is likely to occur and to establish a long-term planning and monitoring program to protect wetlands.
The N.C. Division of Water Resources declined the two Wetlands Program Development Grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, though the state had applied for them and was notified in June that the money would be distributed later this year.
It’s the first time a state in EPA’s Southeast region has refused a grant since the program started in 1996, an agency spokesperson in Atlanta said. North Carolina could be the only state in the country to ever decline the grants.”
Advocates at the Sierra Club issued a statement decrying the decision:
“As North Carolina develops rules for the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing or “fracking”, the McCrory administration has declined a key research grant sought by DENR and awarded to the state by EPA. The grant funds would have enabled DENR to collect baseline water data for the Sanford Basin area. The research would have fulfilled a key recommendation in DENR’s 2012 comprehensive study on fracking (see below).
‘This is exactly the time that our state would benefit from the science and research that the grants are intended to support,’ said Molly Diggins, state director of the NC Sierra Club. ‘The McCrory administration has walked away from funding that would help the state to make sound decisions about fracking and water quality.'”
The statement went on:
“The EPA grants should have been welcome news, after the legislature approved and the Governor signed a budget slashing funds for DENR’s water protection programs by $2 million. These cuts come in addition to severe cuts during the great recession.
Turning down these grants flies in the face of DENR’s own recommendations on for how to ensure surface water protection with oil and gas development.”