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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

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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.

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Jordan lakeIt’s gotten to the point where scarcely a day goes by at the North Carolina General Assembly in which the honorables don’t work to repeal some basic environmental protection law or rule. Yesterday the good people at the Sierra Club were forced to issue two statements decrying actions by lawmakers to reverse modest, common sense rules to help protect our air and water:

#1 – NC Sierra Club Statement on House Passage of H 201, Building Code Rollbacks Read More

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Thanks to Steve Harrison at Blue NC this morning for highlighting and critiquing a pair of dueling essays in yesterday’s Charlotte Observer on the sobering subject of coal ash (the waste that results from burning coal and, in part, from “scrubbing” the exhaust so that we keep the air a smidge cleaner).  

The bottom line takeaway: The innumerable problems with coal ash are just another reminder of why we are kidding ourselves if we pretend that coal is a viable long-term solution to the world’s energy challenge.

(Photo courtesy of the Southern Environmental Law Center).