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John SkvarlaOne of the signature “accomplishments” of conservative state leadership in North Carolina in recent years has been the steady and ongoing rollback of state environmental protection laws and regulations. This is not to imply that the state has ever done enough — even under past General Assemblies and governors — to truly protect our ever-more-fragile air, land and water, but it’s also clear that things have gotten much, much worse in recent years.

Whether it’s the efforts to deny climate change and sea-level rise, fast-track fracking and off-shore oil drilling, stop efforts to clean up Jordan Lake, build artificial sea walls along the coast, roll back scores of rules and regulations, pack various commissions and boards with advocates hostile to environmental protection, limit land preservation, slash funding or just defund, demoralize, break up and change the mission statement of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources itself, the conservative agenda has been (and continues to be) a long and ambitious one.

Fortunately, one of the chief architects of the effort, DENR Secretary John Skvarla, has some advice for his agency employees who may feel a sense of discouragement at their increasingly disfavored status: Don’t worry, be happy! Read More

Water pollutionThis morning’s NC League of Conservation Voters news update contains a link to a very helpful and informative blog post on environmental policy by a former DENR official, who’s now out on her own. The post is entitled “Environmental Policy in N.C. : Looking back at 2013 and forward to 2014.”

The League’s update also provides this very troubling news (especially in light of the water pollution disaster in West Virginia in recent days):

“Administrative Watch: Clean Water on the Line

Every meaningful state protection for clean water in North Carolina will be at grave risk of being cut back or eliminated in the rules review process starting this week in Raleigh. Read More

An Associated Press investigation into water contamination linked to fracking shows contamination in multiple wells in at least two states, information which is contrary to industry statements in the past. This investigation comes on the heels of the recent confirmation that fracking practices were the cause of earthquakes in Ohio in 2011, where fracking waste has been injected deep underground.  Earthquakes have also been documented in Oklahoma and Texas.  As North Carolina considers this energy source, it should closely monitor this information.

“Among the findings in the AP’s review:

— Pennsylvania has confirmed at least 106 water-well contamination cases since 2005, out of more than 5,000 new wells. There were five confirmed cases of water-well contamination in the first nine months of 2012, 18 in all of 2011 and 29 in 2010. The Environmental Department said more complete data may be available in several months.

— Ohio had 37 complaints in 2010 and no confirmed contamination of water supplies; 54 complaints in 2011 and two confirmed cases of contamination; 59 complaints in 2012 and two confirmed contaminations; and 40 complaints for the first 11 months of 2013, with two confirmed contaminations and 14 still under investigation, Department of Natural Resources spokesman Mark Bruce said in an email. None of the six confirmed cases of contamination was related to fracking, Bruce said.

— West Virginia has had about 122 complaints that drilling contaminated water wells over the past four years, and in four cases the evidence was strong enough that the driller agreed to take corrective action, officials said.

— A Texas spreadsheet contains more than 2,000 complaints, and 62 of those allege possible well-water contamination from oil and gas activity, said Ramona Nye, a spokeswoman for the Railroad Commission of Texas, which oversees drilling. Texas regulators haven’t confirmed a single case of drilling-related water-well contamination in the past 10 years, she said.”

 

 

 

Bonner-BridgeICYMI, be sure to check out the op-ed in this morning’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer by Derb Carter, the Director of the North Carolina office of Southern Environmental Law Center. In it, Carter explains yet again why the longer Bonner Bridge replacement championed by his organization is by far the more responsible option — both in terms of protecting the environment and protecting taxpayers.

As Carter notes, it’s a classic “pay me now or pay me later” scenario: pay upfront for a stable  and lasting bridge that will be sheltered from storms and avoid the fast-eroding part of Hatteras Island or rely on a constantly changing set of patchwork “solutions” that are based upon repeatedly repairing roads and reclaiming land swallowed by the sea.

Isn’t it interesting that yet again, the sober, hard-headed, fiscally responsible solution is being advanced by so-called “liberals” whilst the dreamy-eyed, hope-for-the-best-and-improvise plan is being put forth by so-called “conservatives”?

You can read Carter’s essay by clicking here.

Mark CreechAs explained in some detail in this morning’s Weekly Briefing, the McCrory administration has been playing some serious hardball with respect the Bonner Bridge controversy. Today, however, we learned of another critic of the North Carolina environmental advocacy community with even more and powerful political tools at his/her disposal: God.

According to the Rev. Mark Creech,  the Executive Director of North Carolina’s Christian Action League (that’s him on the left – Creech, not God), those who side with environmental groups in favor of a longer and more sustainable bridge to replace the existing Bonner Bridge are acting counter to the Divine Plan. Creech said the following in an article that he authored and that was recently published in, among other places, the Christian Post:

“Most people in North Carolina and the nation have been deeply impacted by a cultural Christian worldview, even though they may not know or acknowledge it. The Book of Genesis teaches that mankind is to ‘[b]e fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion…over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Gen. 1:28). Read More