It should probably come as no surprise when a state elects a governor who’s spent most of his adult life in the employ of one of the planet’s biggest polluters and he fails to make environmental protection a top priority. That said, there is something disturbing and notably blatant about the way the McCrory administration continues to wage war on environmental protection and, it would seem, the very idea that government has a role to play in the matter.
The list of disasters implemented over the last few years in the realm of environmental protection in North Carolina is already a long one — the uninspiring leaders appointed, the half-baked responses to the coal ash mess, the retreat on sea-level rise, the failure to take action on climate change, the lack of investments, the rules compromised — but two new announcements this week serve really to pour symbolic salt on the wound and rub it in.
First is the announcement to be unveiled officially today with the Governor’s proposed budget that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources is to be: a) re-christened as the “Department of Energy and Environment” (I’m sure you noticed which word got second billing) and b) further eviscerated with the transfer of the state zoo as well as several museums and parks (and scientists) to the Department of Cultural Resources.
What’s next? Sale of naming rights? Full privatization? The Duke Energy Zoological Park? Combining the Department of Public Instruction with the state prison system?
Second was the Governor’s announcement yesterday of the new head of the state Environmental Management Commission –a guy named Gerard Carroll. The Commission is a 15-member body that’s “responsible for adopting rules for the protection, preservation and enhancement of the state’s air and water resources.”
And what, you might ask, qualified Mr. Carroll for this important job? Well, according to his Linked In page, Mr. Carroll has spent the last 26 years — most recently as Senior VP of Operations — at the National Gypsum Company. National Gypsum is an outfit that once filed for bankruptcy under the crushing debt it racked up as the defendant in thousands of asbestos lawsuits and that, since getting out of the asbestos business, has remained at the center of numerous controversies with respect to its products and environmental pollution (including the whole contaminated drywall controversy from a few years ago). Sounds like just the man, huh?