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Frack-free-400The  editorial page of the Wilmington Star-News joins the long and growing list of opponents to the fast-track fracking bill approved by the General Assembly last week.

Among other things, the paper notes the opposition of conservative Republican lawmaker Rick Catlin of New Hanover County:

“Republican Rep. Rick Catlin voted against the bill, as did Democrat Susi Hamilton; both are from New Hanover County. They understand that there is too much at stake and not enough protections for the public or the taxpayers in this bill. Hamilton notes that under this scenario, the General Assembly would have no review of the rules the commission develops, despite assurances to the contrary in previous legislation.

Catlin, an environmental engineer and hydrogeologist knows a thing or two about the risks of fracking.

He is not opposed to gas exploration – on the contrary, he sees it as potentially beneficial to the state, environmentally and economically, if it is done safely and correctly. But he thinks the state is giving up too much oversight and too much potential revenue….

In other words, whether the people like it or not, drilling will occur – potentially affecting their property, their health and the sovereignty of city and town boards made up of residents who will have to live with whatever the oil and gas companies leave behind. And the state won’t get nearly as much money as other states that allow this practice to occur.

This is what passes for ‘doing the will of the people’ in the new North Carolina.”

SmokestacksYesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an important ruling in favor of EPA regulation of cross-state air pollution from coal-fired power plants.  Today, one of North Carolina’s best-known and most respected environmental advocates celebrated the decision and the efforts of North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper in making the whole thing happen. This is from Molly Diggins, head of the North Carolina Chapter of the Sierra Club:

“In 2002, North Carolina, with bipartisan support, passed the Clean Smokestacks Act, which directed the State of North Carolina to seek similar reductions from coal-fired power plants upwind to those the state was mandating from NC’s coal-fired power plants.

Using the Good Neighbor provisions of the Clean Air Act, Attorney General Roy Cooper asked the EPA to get reductions from upwind states that were impacting NC’s ability to have clean air, despite the stringent cleanup standards in Clean Smokestacks. The EPA responded with protections for states like North Carolina that are downwind of polluting states. But their action was challenged in court. Read More

Coal smokestackAmericans have long fretted (and with good reason) over the country’s costly and destructive addiction to oil produced in the Middle East and other troubled regions. A new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists, however, demonstrates that North Carolina has its own closer-to-home fossil fuel addiction problem.

As Public News Service reports this morning:

“North Carolina power producers – primarily Duke Energy – spent $1.8 billion to import coal from other states in 2012 alone. A report released Tuesday by the Union of Concerned Scientists highlights that cost and the benefits of alternative energy sources such as wind and solar….According to the report, the amount of coal imported into North Carolina decreased by 36 percent from 2008 to 2012, but its cost has increased to more than $93 a ton – one of the highest prices in the nation. The report, called ‘Burning Coal, Burning Cash,’ ranks North Carolina second in the country in terms of its dependence on imported coal.”

You can read the UCS study by clicking here.
(Photo: Union of Concerned Scientists).

 

John SkvarlaAt a Monday’s Locke Foundation “Shaftsbury Society” lunch, North Carolina’s Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources John Skvarla made a rather remarkable claim that you can watch in the two-minute highlight video posted here.

Skvarla claimed that his department (and, by implication, the McCrory administration) is not changing or relaxing environmental rules and regulations, but just working harder to help businesses negotiate the bureaucracy. If that’s so, it must mean that the Secretary will be working hard to secure a veto of some controversial bills currently pending on Gov. McCrory’s desk that would do just that.

For example, House Bill 74 would, according to the N. C. Conservation Network: Read More

A group of 14 North Carolina environmental advocacy groups submitted a letter to Governor McCrory yesterday in which they urged him to veto two controversial bills advanced by polluters during the waning hours of the recently adjourned legislative session.

The letter describes the two bills as follows:

“House Bill 74 is a sixty-eight-page compilation of special interest handouts, some of which have already caught your attention. As you noted in your press conference on July 26th, the bill weakens standards that protect citizens, communities and gamelands from the impacts of landfills. Additionally, you pointed out that the bill strips local governments of control over the size and types of billboards that can be erected in a community….

[Senate Bill 515] is the third delay of a much-needed and federally required clean up of Jordan Lake. The rules need a chance to bear results. Once implemented, wastewater plant upgrades and better stormwater management will reduce water pollution in Jordan Lake and the rivers and streams that feed into it. Several local governments have already invested a lot of time and money complying in good faith with the Jordan Lake rules, and Senate Bill 515 punishes them for making those investments. In addition, delaying the rules exposes upstream municipalities and developers to legal challenges for failure to adequately protect a resource that the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has already found to be impaired.”

Click here to read the entire letter as well as new survey results showing that strong public support of most North Carolinians for strong environmental protection laws.