Commentary

The latest, you-can’t-make-this-up action by NC’s so-called environmental regulator

It’s one thing for the state’s conservative advocacy “think tanks” to be virtual subsidiaries of the fossil fuel industry and plutocrats like the Koch Brothers, but it’s  distressingly clear these days that the same can also be said for the state agency leaders whose supposed job is to protect the environment. How else to explain this story from WRAL’s Laura Leslie:

“NC environmental chief backs restriction on solar farms, incentives for nuclear plants

The solar industry has blossomed in North Carolina since lawmakers granted solar farms tax breaks nine years ago as part of renewable energy standards that require utilities to get a portion of their power from renewable sources.

North Carolina ranks fourth nationally in solar energy capacity, and the industry employs about 5,600 people in the state, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association….

Now, critics of solar are trying to rein in the industry by rewriting state laws, and the head of the state Department of Environmental Quality is leading the charge, pushing the state Energy Policy Council to recommend some major changes.

One proposal discussed Wednesday would require a state permit for any new solar farm. That would give the state the final say on whether a property owner can lease his or her land for solar. It would also require a bond for eventual removal of the equipment….

A second proposal would redefine the state’s renewable energy standard to include nuclear energy. The proposed ‘clean energy standard’ would even allow incentives for new nuclear plants, which van der Vaart said are needed to back up less dependable sources such as solar.

‘Simply recognizing that nuclear energy is clean and needs to be incentivized, that is what the renewable energy portfolio standard is for,’ he said. ‘This is meant to expand our portfolio.'”

You got that? The folks who hate all things that smack of government regulation have now decided, all of a sudden, that they like it when it comes to solar power. Meanwhile, they are championing nuclear power (and even natural gas, according to other reports) as sources to be classified as “clean energy.”

Now, in fairness, there is nothing inherently wrong with public oversight of solar power installations and it’s true that nuclear and gas plants do not produce the volumes of greenhouse gases that coal-fired electric generating plants do. If the McCrory administration had anything akin to a responsible record when it comes to environmental protection, one could even imagine a productive discussion over such topics.

Unfortunately, given the all out war on the environment  that has been one of the administration’s hallmarks throughout its three years in office, it’s hard to see this latest action as anything other than the latest volley.

One Comment


  1. John Christian

    January 28, 2016 at 10:38 am

    “A second proposal would redefine the state’s renewable energy standard to include nuclear energy.” This is crazy. Nuclear energy is created from uranium which is not a renewable source of energy. Uranium has to be mined. If uranium is renewable, then so is oil and coal.

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