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Frank Tursi at the Coastal Federation posted a remarkable story yesterday that shines a light on two of the McCrory administration’s favorite practices: 1) turning down federal money that would promote the common good (and thereby sending it off to other states) and 2) sticking its head in the sand when it comes to our ever-more fragile natural environment. This is from the story:

“RALEIGH – Saying they don’t need the money to meet their new mission, state environmental officials recently turned down almost $600,000 in federal grants. The money would have been used to set up a network of sites to begin testing streams in the Piedmont where natural gas production is likely to occur and to establish a long-term planning and monitoring program to protect wetlands. Read More

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In case you missed it, a 25-year employee of the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) tendered her resignation recently in a very public fashion. As reported by WRAL.com, Susan Wilson packaged her resignation in a scathing and courageous letter that blasted DENR Secretary John Skvarla and the McCrory administration for dismantling of the Department’s Division of Water Quality. Among other things, the letter included the following barbs:

“I was a good regulator – I had a bit of distrust for both sides of the aisle – which made me regulate evenly and with common sense and fair judgment. Over the past 24 years I’ve had the privilege to have worked with some of the most intelligent, articulate, and respected environmental scientists and engineers – I’d put them up against my friends in the private sector any day of the week. But the disdain for them (and me) by this administration is too much to bear….

I’m all about customer service (as the majority of employees in DWQ are, and have always been), but that just seems to be a smokescreen for a very extremist republican agenda.

Likely there will be some uptick in the business environment in the next few years (mainly because the economy has started to recover from the disaster your friends on Wall Street created). But when the hot summers and the drought years come back, and we get fish kills again, and maybe there’s fracking going on in the sandhills – it will be the fine folks at DENR who will get blamed for the chaos. The politicians and their appointees, that did the dismantling and created the chaos, will be long gone. We know the drill.”

Good for Wilson. And good for her reference to “customer service’ – a phrase that’s bandied about at every opportunity by the administration, but that’s never adequately defined. Read More

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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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Longtime environmental advocate Molly Diggins of the Sierra Club offers the following take on so-called “solid waste reform” legislation scheduled for a final vote in the state Senate tonight:

“Tonight, the Senate will have a final (3rd) reading on S 328,  Solid Waste Management Reform Act.  S. 328 would undo many of the community, fiscal and environmental solid waste policies the state adopted in 2007. The 2007 measures were put into place after a one-year moratorium and comprehensive stakeholder process, including input from state and federal resource agencies. 

S 328 has had no associated studies and no stakeholder process.   Read More

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There was a bit of a hubbub recently surrounding the announcement made by the new Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, John Skvarla, that he was altering the Department’s mission statement. Especially in light of Skvarla’s statements in a WRAL interview in which he implied that climate change is an open question, many observers took particular note of language in the new mission statement that refers to “diversity of opinion” on matters of science.

So how much of a change is this? One of the interesting aspects of the whole mission statement story was that no one seems to remember much about what was in the old one.

Yesterday, I called over to DENR and a friendly staffer promptly emailed me the one that had been associated with the Department’s 2009-2013 strategic plan. Click here to look at the brochure that I received.

As you can see, the old “mission statement” was much shorter. It simply stated that DENR’s mission was: Read More