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Hog industryCoal ash isn’t the only pollutant wreaking havoc in North Carolina’s waterways these days; the enormous problems posed by industrial hog production are back in the news. As noted in this space last week, there’s a stomach-turning crisis underway as you read this in involving a porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus outbreak in North Carolina.

This morning’s Fayetteville Observer weighs in on the subject with an editorial bearing the marvelously understated headline “Our view: Dead pigs, water may be an unhealthy mix.” As the editorial notes (after describing in grim detail what’s been going on) the recent coal ash disaster caused by lax regulation offers little hope that regulators are taking all necessary steps: Read More

Food labelIf you’re getting ready to pop open a cup of yogurt or a can of soup for lunch today, be sure to take note of the nutrition label as it’s about to get a smidge more relevant and informative in the near future thanks to a new Food and Drug Administration directive and some helpful advocacy from First Lady Michelle Obama.  And, of course, it probably won’t be long before the denizens of the Pope Empire inform us that this is all a matter of big government quashing the “freedom” of unfettered markets.

And speaking of “free” markets, the right wing is — amazingly enough — weighing in again of late to inform us that not only is raising the minimum wage a terrible idea, but so, indeed, is the VERY IDEA of minimum wage laws. First it was the John Locke Foundation in this essay last week and then, yesterday, it was state House Speaker and U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis.

And speaking of the U.S. Senate, here’s a doozy: 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

Smoking banWe told you so.

The Wilmington Star-News reminds us this morning of something that common sense made clear years ago – namely that the silly, Chicken Little complaints from the right wing about North Carolina’s ban on smoking in restaurants and bars a couple years back were just that. To quote the Star-News:

“Fear is a powerful force, but it often is exercised prematurely and, in hindsight, without justification. That was certainly true in the case of North Carolina’s hard-fought ban on smoking in bars, restaurants and other public buildings.

When the state that King Tobacco once ruled went smoke-free four years ago, there was a predictable if understandable outcry from some bar and restaurant owners, who worried that business would plummet if people couldn’t smoke inside. It didn’t happen, much in keeping with the experiences of other states that have implemented public smoking bans.

People still eat out. They still go to bars. And maybe even in some cases, these establishments have attracted new patrons because smoking is not allowed.”

To make things even better, the smoking ban has had a wonderfully beneficial impact on health Read More

Just in from the Budget and Tax Center Center

RALEIGH (March 27, 2013) — Critical federal funding for North Carolina’s schools, health care, clean water, law enforcement, and other key services would be slashed under the federal budget proposed by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last week, according to a new report released today by the non-partisan organization Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

“Chairman Ryan’s budget would place the burden of deficit reduction squarely on the backs of North Carolina’s low-income and middle class families while providing a windfall in tax cuts to corporations and the wealthiest individuals,” said Allan Freyer of the Budget & Tax Center, a project of the North Carolina Justice Center. “Another round of deep funding cuts to our schools, public safety, and health would harm our families, communities and economy.”

Congressman Ryan’s budget would cut the part of the federal budget that supports Read More