[The title of this post has been updated to assuage the concerns of those who interpreted it as somehow heralding criticism of the the City of Raleigh.]
In case you missed it Sunday, the editorial page of the Greensboro News & Record did a great, if sobering, job of summing up the ongoing war on North Carolina’s natural environment that’s being waged by the state’s conservative political leadership.The editorial — “A toxic wish list,” begins this way:
“Don’t look now, but planet Earth is under attack. From Raleigh.
And resistance is futile. Or so it seems.”
After alluding to a 2013 bill by Greensboro’s Senator Trudy Wade that, amazingly, proposed to allow garbage trucks to spill more noxious liquid on the highways and byways of the state, the editorial puts it this way:
“But Wade’s bill was only the first drip in a noxious flood of legislation that followed from a GOP-controlled legislature that seems hell-bent on disintegrating protections against tainted water and filthy air. The list, contained in an omnibus bill, is as long as it is shortsighted.
One provision, pushed by Wade, would no longer require electronics companies to help defray the expense of recycling and disposing of discarded computers, televisions and other products that can create dangerous toxins in landfills.
Wade’s reasoning: The expense was too burdensome for those companies.
So, where, then would the additional costs logically shift? To the city and county governments that have established e-recycling drop-off programs. And ultimately to local taxpayers.
What’s the harm? Wade told the News & Record’s Taft Wireback. ‘It’s still banned from landfills.’ As if an electronics fairy comes and magically takes old e-junk away in the dead of night and leaves quarters.
Another pending change would allow construction nearer to streams.
Another would allow companies that turn themselves in for pollution not to be assessed penalties if they cooperate in clean-up efforts.
Another would force citizen groups that file lawsuits against state agencies on environmental issues to reimburse the state for attorney’s fees if the state wins in court. (In effect, it dares citizens to sue.)
Still another would close all air-quality monitoring stations in the state that are not required by the federal government, meaning more than half of the devices would be turned off.
Not contained in the omnibus bill but equally worrisome is the state’s oddball resistance to new federal air quality rules, for which North Carolina already is favorably prepared. The rules call for states to devise plans to reduce carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030. Even though the state already has reduced carbon emissions by 20 percent, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, GOP lawmakers and the governor oppose the new rules.
In an even curiouser stance, DENR insists that clean-ups of three leaking Duke Energy coal ash pits be placed on hold, presumably because Duke and environmental groups added three more sites to a list of four identified by the state as top priorities for clean-up without saying ‘May I?’ to DENR. Why would DENR mind Duke agreeing to clean more sites sooner?”
And, of course, the N&R list is far from exhaustive. The spasm of senseless, knee-jerk deregulation (as well as the general evisceration of the Department that once sought to enforce environmental regulations in the state) goes much further and continues to this day. If you can stomach it, check out the grim details each week in the fine Monday newsletter known as the Weekly Conservation Bulletin that’s published by the good folks at the N.C. League of Conservation Voters.
The bottom line: The news is grim, but it isn’t going to get any better until caring and thinking people pay full attention and get to work turning things around.