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Yesterday, the Charlotte Observer labeled the Senate’s latest plan to amend the state constitution to impose tax and spending cuts “a stink bomb” and  “a gimmick” and urged lawmakers to “let it die.”

This morning, Raleigh’s News & Observer is equally complimentary:

“The notion of constitutional amendments to cap the state income tax rate at 5 percent and to cap spending in the state budget by connecting any budget hikes to population growth and inflation is just zany. So is the idea of creating an emergency fund that couldn’t be tapped without two-thirds approval by members of the General Assembly….

State Treasurer Janet Cowell, whose management of the state retirement fund and other investments has been exemplary, is rightly alarmed by the idea. That’s why she sent all 170 lawmakers a strong cautionary warning against it….

For the state to adopt these amendments in the name of cutting government would be akin to putting on handcuffs before going into a boxing ring. You can bob and weave for a while, but what happens when you get hit?”

Of course, none of this seems to be dissuading the Senate, which is likely to pass these ridiculous changes this afternoon. The future of North Carolina as we know it, therefore, is likely to soon rest on the the thin reed that is the North Carolina House of Representatives. Here’s hoping there’s a large supply of duct tape on Jones Street.

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Climate change - droughtLooking for something at least a tiny bit hopeful to mull over during a period in which hopeful news seems to be at a minimum? Here’s something: Charles Koch — yes, that Charles Koch — admits that CO2 is warming the planet.

Koch grudgingly told the Washington Post’s Matea Gold in a recent interview that “…there has been warming. The CO2 goes up, the CO2 has probably contributed to that.”

Naturally, his admission was tempered and followed by lots of untruths — the folks at The Guardian have a nice analysis here in which they more fully explore the various stages of Koch’s denial — but, even so, it has to be seen as at least a small measure of progress that Koch, one of the wealthiest individuals in human history and the underwriter of a network of destructive propagandists who are doing much to hasten the demise of life as we know it, is at least seeing a small sliver of the light.

Let’s fervently hope that the relentless march of time and his own mortality continue to push the aging plutocrat further out into the light of day in the near future (and that the network of climate change deniers he funds get the memo).

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Here are a few more details on the latest outrageous and inaccurate broadside launched by the North Carolina chapter of the Koch brothers-funded group known as Americans for Prosperity. As was explained in this space yesterday, AFP made the absurd claim that North Carolina’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard —  a modest law designed to help North Carolina begin to kick its heroin-like addiction to fossil fuels — “strangles” the “entire NC economy.” As pointed out here yesterday, this is simply untrue:

“Even if one conceded that the REPS somehow raises consumer electric bills in any significant way — something that is simply not true — North Carolina’s electric rates are currently below the national average.  This is true in all categories — residential, commercial industrial, transportation and overall.  Heck, North Carolina residential consumers pay less for electricity than Texans! North Carolina commercial and industrial consumers pay less than West Virginia businesses! Click here to review the latest data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. How could such rates be ‘strangling’ the economy?”

Later in the day yesterday, AFP attempted to defend its outrageous claim by pointing in two tweets to a statement in a March 2015 report written by McCrory administration officials. Here’s the supposedly damning language:

“North Carolina remains the only state in the Southeast to have enacted a REPS. As a result of this geographic isolation, long-term energy prices may adversely impact economic growth and challenge recent improvements in employment in North Carolina.”

To which, all a sane person can say in response is: How in the world can that be interpreted as confirmation of the assertion that REPS “strangles” the economy? Earth to AFP: Check your Merriam-Webster. “May adversely impact” does not mean “strangles.”

Add to this the fact that the “may adversely effect” language represents one sentence in a sometimes misleading 36 page report with myriad observations and conclusions about REPS and energy generally AND that it was written by employees of the McCrory administration’s decimated and thoroughly cowed Department of Environment and Natural Resources AND that the actual facts on the ground show the price of electricity in North Carolina to be well below the national average AND that other analysis shows that REPS is actually saving consumers millions and it becomes evident that the AFP folks are just making stuff up.

The plain and simple fact of the matter is that renewable energy represents North Carolina’s future — both for its economy and its environment. And no amount of fossil fuel industry funded propaganda is going to change this reality.

Commentary

It’s an admittedly crowded field of competitors, but by any fair assessment, the Koch Brother-funded group, Americans for Prosperity North Carolina may just have posted its most dishonest and ridiculous claim yet about renewable energy. As you can see in the tweet below and by following the link it contains, the group claims that North Carolina’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (a modest law that moves the state in the direction of producing more sustainable energy and that will actually save consumers lots of money over time) “strangles” the “entire North Carolina economy.”

This is, simply put, a blatant and outrageous lie. Even if one conceded that the REPS somehow raises consumer electric bills in any significant way — something that is simply not true — North Carolina’s electric rates are currently below the national average.  This is true in all categories — residential, commercial industrial, transportation and overall.  Heck, North Carolina residential consumers pay less for electricity than Texans! North Carolina commercial and industrial consumers pay less than West Virginia businesses! Click here to review the latest data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. How could such rates be “strangling” the economy?

The bottom line: It’s no surprise that fossil fuel barons like the Kochs would put their paid mouthpieces to work to promote policies that pad their gigantic profits, but when the lies get this big, they really need to be called out. Let’s hope this dishonest effort to undermine renewables continues to fall flat.

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Image: NRDC,.org

Image: NRDC.org

To the Koch-funded apologists for unfettered fossil fuel exploitation and consumption at Americans for Prosperity, there’s simply no end to the wonders that an ever-expanding carbon footprint can yield. Today, the group is promoting a TED talk-like video by another Koch ally in which he purports to make “the moral case for fossil fuels.” According to Alex Epstein of the Center for Industrial Progress, life is much better in places like China and India because of the wonders of fossil fuel consumption.

To which, all a sane person can say is: Maybe in some ways — but for how long?

As Yahoo News and several other sites have reported in recent days, Chinese top-one-percenters are leaving the country in droves. One of their chief motivations: to escape the horrendous pollution that afflicts the country.

“But realistically, economic opportunities do not top the list for many émigrés. China’s not an easy place to live. Wealthy Chinese parents are becoming increasingly concerned about raising kids in an environment with filthy air, not to mention a critical lack of clean water and constant food and beverage safety scandals.”

This makes obvious sense as the devastating reality of China’s horrendous air and water pollution is now common knowledge. If you doubt it, just ask a friend who’s been to Beijing.

All of which raises at the obvious question of how much more the planet can take of the kind of “economic miracles” envisioned by the Koch Brothers and their lackeys.