By John Murawski
Meet the bill with nine lives – and twice as many votes cast against it.
Lawmakers on Wednesday could once again attempt to end a state renewables policy whose proponents say has elevated North Carolina to the nation’s fifth-largest developer of solar farms.
Last week, lawmakers defeated the measure 18-13 in a House committee. At the time proponents of solar power and renewables celebrated a rare victory.
On Tuesday, Rep. Mike Hager, the bill’s sponsor, revived it for another vote.
Even by the standards of North Carolina’s partisan legislature, the push to undo the 6-year-old energy policy marks unusual determination to salvage a struggling bill.
For their part, advocates of solar power and renewables are now bracing for the potential of esoteric parliamentary maneuvers that are used on rare occasion to advance controversial bills for last-minute votes.
Tags: renewable energyrepsncgancpollegislaturesolar
by Kirk Ross
RALEIGH -- The Senate wrapped up work last week leaving a host of stakeholders in environmental policy with a serious homework assignment: Try to decipher the implications of a revised omnibus bill that would make major changes to the state’s environmental regulations.
Senate Bill 612, yet another “regulatory reform act,” follows similarly named bills of the previous two sessions, and like those bills offers an array of changes to environmental policy and regulations.
Tags: regulatory reformncgancpollegislature
By Scot Faulkner and Jonathan Riehl
There was a time when Republicans established the Environmental Protection Agency and considered stewardship of the environment a cornerstone of assuring America’s future. Those days seem very far away as Republicans, including Gov. Pat McCrory, are increasingly rejecting environmental protection and empirical science.
Prior to McCrory’s becoming governor, North Carolina had a solid reputation for environmental stewardship grounded in constructive engagement between two co-equal state agencies. The Department of Commerce is the welcome mat and advocate for new and expanding businesses. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources is the enforcer of the National Environmental Protection Act and the advocate for those affected by the externalities of new and expanding businesses.
Each agency has a noble mission that benefits the state. Pure environmentalism can hamper the creation of economic opportunity and job growth. Pure economic development can permanently scar a landscape, cause harm to people’s health and eradicate qualities of life and community that attract business.
Molly Diggins, state director of the North Carolina Sierra Club, issued the following statement:
“We are disappointed that the Senate today voted to condemn a valid contract between the City of Raleigh and the State that was entered into only months ago and would have created a destination park in Raleigh for all North Carolinians to enjoy.”
“With today’s vote, the Senate has thrown away an unique opportunity for the economic and cultural benefit of all residents of our state. Once again, we are counting on the House to employ due diligence and more deliberately attend to the best interests of all North Carolinians.”
Tags: press releasencgancgovlegislature
To appreciate the explosive growth of solar power in North Carolina, consider the state of the solar industry six years ago: Solar energy was so unusual that most residents had never seen a photovoltaic panel here.
Today, North Carolina ranks fifth in the nation for solar energy production, and the state is projected by the Solar Energy Industries Association to move up to fourth place this year. Giant solar farms are sprouting or planned all over the state, including the biggest proposed to date: a 75-megawatt project in Duplin County.
But the industry’s continued success in North Carolina is now in jeopardy. The state’s 2007 energy law, intended to establish alternatives to building power plants, is one of the Democratic-era policies eyed for elimination by some in the Republican majority in the state legislature...
Tags: renewable energyrepslegislaturesolar
By Laura Leslie - Senate Republican leaders are moving quickly on a proposal to fire all current members of key oversight and advisory boards.
Introduced in Senate Rules Committee Tuesday morning, Senate Bill 10 would effectively fire all members of the Utilities Commission, Environmental Management Commission, Coastal Resources Commission, Lottery Commission and Wildlife Resources Commission.
Tags: ncgancpollegislatureEMCUtility Commission
From the Editorial Board at the Winston-Salem Journal:
Unfortunately, a legislative leadership that has already sped to a decision — one that favors the drilling and that eschews careful consideration — chose not to attend. At the conference, fracking proponents would have been delighted to hear that opponents have made a mountain out of a molehill, or should we say an ocean out of a pond, regarding the water that would be consumed by fracking operations. It sounds enormous — millions of gallons — but putting that number in perspective, it's in line with many industries, such as watering golf courses. Legislators might not have wanted to hear, however, what other scientists reported — that the economic windfall for North Carolina would not be very great.
Today a key energy committee chaired by Senator Bob Rucho (R-Mecklenberg) presented legislation that would legalize fracking in North Carolina.
Tags: Frackingncgalegislaturepress release
The legislature continued its relentless drive to allow fracking in North Carolina with today’s House vote to approve SB 820. Today’s vote came despite numerous reasonable concerns about moving too fast and potential damage to communities, the environment and landowners. Questions about whether or not our state’s geology puts us at greater risk of drinking water contamination remain unanswered.
Tags: ncgaFrackinglegislaturepress release
Two letters were delivered to the office of Governor Beverly Perdue last week urging her to veto Senate Bill 820, legislation that lays the path to fracking in North Carolina. One letter was from elected officials and the other from business leaders in the community.
Tags: ncgaFrackinglegislaturevetopress release