In case you missed it, be sure to check out reporter Bruce Siceloff’s story in this morning’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer in which he explores the behind-closed-doors decision of unnamed state lawmakers to deep six the Triangle’s developing plans for a traffic-busting light rail system.

Siceloff quotes one of the legislature’s longest-serving and most influential conservative lawmakers, Rep. Paul Stam on Wake County as professing not to know the origins of the provision.

To which all a body can say in response is “give us a break.” Stam is either remarkably inept at his job or being remarkably dishonest. That something so important to his home county could be inserted without his knowledge or participation simply defies logic.

Speaking of inept, Governor McCrory comes off once again as utterly incompetent in the story — blasting the provision that he himself signed into law.

The bottom line: As is noted in this morning’s Weekly Briefing, the light rail killer is just the latest in a long line of recent anti-environmental provisions rammed through the General Assembly by conservative legislators and their buddies in the polluter lobby. Perhaps even more importantly, however, it is also a classic example of corrupt, secretive and unaccountable government at its worst.

You’d think a group of ideologues so cocksure of their twisted ideology as the current legislative leadership is would at least have the courage to stand beside their actions.

Sadly and quite pathetically, this is not the case.


North Carolina environmental advocates are having trouble listing all the bad new laws and money decisions crammed into the 400-plus page budget agreement. As the good people at the League of Conservation Voters reported in an update this afternoon, the budget agreement includes provisions:

  • Allowing the Renewable Energy Investment Tax Credit (REITC) to expire. For every $1 in tax credit allotted to our renewable energy industry, it has generated $1.54 in new state and local revenue. That means more money is coming into our coffers, creating jobs and drawing in a total economic impact of $4.7 billion. Allowing the REITC to expire will likely damage North Carolina’s ability to attract new businesses and investors, especially for our state’s Tier 1 and Tier 2 counties that have received more than $1.9 billion in direct investment thanks to REITC.
  • Earmarking $500,000 for shale gas exploration (aka “fracking”). The irony of allowing a “subsidy” for solar to expire but include half a million dollars in handouts to an industry that already has the funds and the competitive advantage shouldn’t be lost on anyone. Regardless, this is a terrible use of state revenue dollars.
  • Creating loopholes for repeat violators and reducing penalties for those who break state sediment and erosion control laws. While we were pleased to see the Sedimentation Control Commission remain intact, this overseeing body won’t be able to actually enforce any of the rules and protect us and our natural resources from pollution with these gaping holes.
  • Extending funding for the botched SolarBee project to the tune of $1.5 million and delaying the implementation of the Jordan Lake Rules for at least three more years. This simply allows the pollution load to grow and grow, making future clean up efforts even more difficult and costly.

The LCV list doesn’t include the decision to expand controversial terminal groins that will liteally change the shape of the state’s coastline or, undoubtedly, numerous other provisions that will only come to light days after the new budget is law.

In other words, the news from Jones Street is bad and getting worse.


NCPW-CC-2015-04-07-oil-rig-flickr-tsuda-CC-BY-SA-2-0-150x150Hundreds of Atlantic coast business owners — including scores from North Carolina — delivered a letter to President Obama yesterday that pleads with him to reverse his earlier decision to give initial approval to offshore oil and gas exploration. As reported by Katie Valentine of Think Progress:

“For coastal companies that depend on a healthy stream of tourists to keep business healthy, the prospect of drilling in the Atlantic Ocean means one thing: spills that will sully beaches and drive visitors away.

More than 300 Atlantic coast businesses sent a letter to President Obama Thursday, urging him to take back his administration’s proposal to allow drilling in the Atlantic Ocean. In January, the Obama administration announced a proposal to sell oil and gas leases in offshore sites from Virginia to Georgia. Currently, there is no offshore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean, though drilling does occur in the Gulf of Mexico.

In the letter, the businesses outline the economic risk posed by offshore drilling, saying that monetary losses due to lost tourism revenue could be ‘devastating.’ They also note that the Energy Information Administration estimates that the Atlantic Ocean holds only about 209 days’ worth of oil and 13 months’ worth of natural gas.”

Not surprisingly, North Carolina had more signatories on the letter than any of the other 11 states represented. North Carolina is at the epicenter of the offshore drilling debate with Governor McCrory pushing to drill even closer to the coast than federal officials have discussed.

As Sierra Weaver of the Southern Environmental Law Center explained at an N.C. Policy Watch luncheon earlier this year, the battle over offshore drilling still has a long way to go.

To learn more about the enormous threat that drilling would pose to North Carolina, visit the N.C. Coastal Federation by clicking here.


With news reports indicating that lawmakers have reached a backroom deal to expand the number of so-called “terminal groins” allowed along the North Carolina coast, the frequently conservative editorial page of the Jacksonville Daily News has reprinted an editorial this morning from the Wilmington Star News that does a great job of shredding the whole idea.

“A terminal groin is a big wall or hardened structure stretching out into the ocean, usually perpendicular to the coastline. Groins are built to change the effects of beach erosion. Jetties, on the other hand, are built so a channel to the ocean will stay open for navigation.

The trouble is — as almost every geologist and oceanographer will tell you — groins don’t really work. They stop or slow erosion in the immediate vicinity, but worsen erosion farther down the beach by halting the natural flow of sand.

Beach sand migrates and trying to stop its natural course is like old King Canute trying to keep the tide from coming in. It’s folly — potentially expensive folly.

Senior homeowners on Social Security and inland residents could wind up being taxed for “beach nourishment” to protect pricey oceanfront real estate. And what may help one property owner surely will end up badly for someone down the beach.

For three decades, North Carolina had a good rule barring any form of beach hardening. In 2011, the General Assembly, in its wisdom, chose to water down that rule allowing four “test” groins.

Not content to see how the tests perform, the N.C. Senate is ready to wash away all precaution.”

And, sadly, it appears the House is going along with this as well. Read the entire editorial by clicking here.


As has been explained on multiple occasions by a wide variety of experts, there are a couple of basic rules in play when in it comes to understanding the present and future of the North Carolina coastline.

Rule #1 is that the sandy beaches that run for hundreds of miles along our coast are in a constant state of evolution. They ebb and flow and are moving all the time.

Rule #2 is that no one can change Rule #1.

Oh sure, people will try to build “groins” and other “hardened structures” in an effort to get around Rule #1, but experience shows that all that does is make things worse in a lot of places. If you doubt this, visit some of the beaches of other states along the eastern seaboard who have tried to control nature in this way and then watched as the erosion has only worsened in numerous areas.

Unfortunately, people never seem to remember these rules. Hence, stories like this one from this morning’s Coastal Review Online:

RALEIGH – A provision in the latest version of the state budget still in the works would lift the cap on the number of terminal groins allowed on the N.C. coast. Read More