Sen. Phil Berger named 17 lawmakers — 13 Republicans and four Democrats — to the committee on agricultural, environment and natural resources today. Brent Jackson and Andrew Brock are the best-known Republican names, having served on similar committees since the GOP took power in 2011. They have consistently sponsored or co-sponsored bills that would relax environmental rules.
There are three chairmen:
- Bill Cook, who retired from Potomac Electric Power Co., a utility based in Maryland and Washington, D.C. A Republican, he represents eight counties in northeastern North Carolina; this is his third term in the Senate.
- Norman Sanderson, a Republican representing the coastal counties of Carteret, Craven and Pamlico. On his personal campaign website, he lists legalizing fracking and advocating for offshore oil and gas exploration among lawmakers’ legislative achievements. He is serving his third term in the Senate.
- Andy Wells, a Republican representing Alexander and Catawba counties in Western North Carolina, works in real estate. He’s in his second Senate term.
Here are the rest of the committee members, listed by party:
Andrew Brock (Davie, Iredell, Rowan). Brock co-sponsored the Regulatory Reform Act of 2016, which contained several anti-environmental sections, including potential restrictions on wind energy facilities. The bill didn’t get out of conference committee.
Agribusinessman Brent Jackson (Duplin, Johnston, Sampson) has served on the Environmental Review Commission and oversight committees on natural resources. Most recently, he was the primary sponsor for several bills that would have weakened environmental regulations. He pushed through a law that made it easier for farms to win state grants to help cover the cost of propane or natural gas. Then, as The News & Observer reported, his farm applied for one of the grants, worth $925,000. He said he never intended to actually accept the money.
Tom McInnis (Anson, Richmond, Rowan, Scotland, Stanly), who co-sponsored the bipartisan Energy Investment Act, and the Farm Act. That bill, which became law, prioritized swine and poultry renewable energy projects over traditional sources, like solar and wind.
John Alexander Jr. (Wake), newcomer Danny Britt Jr. (Columbus and Robeson), Rick Horner (Johnston, Nash, Wilson); Wesley Meredith (Cumberland), first-term lawmaker Paul Newton (Cabarrus, Union),
Ron Rabin (Harnett, Johnston, Lee), Trudy Wade (Guilford), who was the primary sponsor on several bills to dilute environmental regulations.
Angela Bryant (Halifax, Nash, Vance, Warren, Wilson). She co-sponsored a bill last session, the Energy Investment Act, that would have given taxpayers who built, bought or leased a renewable energy property a credit equal to 35 percent of the cost of the property. It stalled in the finance committee.
Mike Woodard (Caswell, Durham, Person), a longtime environmental advocate. He was the primary sponsor on a bill last session that opposed groundwater rules passed by the Mining and Energy Commission. Those rules related to fracking failed to address air quality issues, chemical disclosure requirements or forced pooling, which requires landowners who don’t want to lease their mineral rights to accept drilling anyway.