Jul 14 2013

The NC Government Struggles Against the Environment While the Federal Government Pushes Forward

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President Obama releases new energy proclamations

Obama has recently unveiled his plans for the Energy crisis in the United States.  He begins his list by giving the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) more powers to manage the environmental damage, pushed for a raise of CAFÉ standards on heavy-duty vehicles, and asked the Department of Housing and Urban Development and USEPA to consider sea-level rise and other climate impacts while permits are processed (Kalmuss-Katz). In addition, Obama has announced a panel of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) that will develop infrastructure and guidelines for climate change resistant buildings in reaction to the increase of damages associated with a changing environment (Kalmuss-Katz: further explained in ENN article: http://www.enn.com/pollution/article/46163). This is a strong move on his part considering the troubles Congress has had in the past of agreeing on legislation. Particularly for North Carolina, this is important considering Republicans have taken over the legislative and Executive branches for the first time since Reconstruction and have been making big impacts on environmental, especially energy, policy.

Environmental policy on the energy future of North Carolina and the many policies already standing on the books were augmented recently. The major changes in energy had to do with the passing of the Domestic Energy Jobs bill that is paving the way for fracking and other destructive forms of energy versus moving towards “greener” energy mostly in the name of job creation for the energy sector (Rucho). This is a shame considering our wonderful coastal environment could be prime for sea and land based wind turbines to generate energy for the coast ( counterpoint video on problems with “green” wind energy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PyWla0pAMSo). What most hurts about the passing of this bill is that it was done relatively quickly without serious research into the repercussions of passing it. Many environmentalists consider it to be passed without a real consideration for the dangers associated with fracking that can be found in the Midwest and other areas of the US where fracking has already been done and the adverse effects have been lived out by local residents. Many feel that a true cost-benefit analysis would reveal that the income and job creation hold no candle to the amount of damage and human health issues that will occur over time in the areas where drilling has a possibility of occurring.

For the bills that have already passed, many have been torn down which has contributed to what are now called “Moral Mondays”(More on NC’s anger: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/10/opinion/the-decline-of-north-carolina.html)  This weekly event has come about because of the destructive nature of the Republican Party that has just really come into its own in North Carolina after the 2012 elections (Editorial Board/Edwards). For example, in May, State Representative Mike Hager spent a lot of time trying to push through repeal on the HB 298 (Affordable and Reliable Energy Act) which passed the House and Senate just recently in March (Kasper: the entire bill can be seen here: http://www.ncleg.net/gascripts/BillLookUp/BillLookUp.pl?Session=2013&BillID=s76). Unfortunately, anti-renewable energy legislature eventually passed in May that destroyed much of the work previously done with the creation of environmentally-friendly legislature (Edwards). This misguided way of trying to help our state is devoid of the facts of how “green” energy is affecting our state economically. North Carolina has around 1,100 clean energy companies that are producing around 3.7 billion dollars annually to the benefit of the economy and has created around 21,000 jobs over the last 5 years alone which is hardly a drain on our state economy (Kasper).

This is no attack on any political party because polls are showing that 89% of Democrats (former Democratic NC Governor Bev Perdue commits to more clean energy in NC: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYSSpOlICZ0), 82% of Independents, and 72% of Republicans are for expanding the renewable energy sector in the state (Kasper).  I am simply highlighting the damaging influence of more radical conservative organizations such as ALEC, Heartland Institute, and the American Conservative Union align with incumbent politicians set on a certain political agenda without the flow of new facts leads to baseless actions such as Hager’s actions against helpful arms in the economy (Germain: further highlights the impact of sponsorship: http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/04/04/1824171/alec-sponsored-bill-to-repeal-north-carolinas-renewable-energy-standard-narrowly-passes-out-of-committee/?mobile=nc).

Stories of state and federal governments not aligning will continue to occur unless concerned citizens focus more on who they are voting for in more local offices and for Senate/House seats to really make an impact. In America, politicians are more concerned with getting re-elected. Thus, putting forth the effort in telling them what their voter base wants and providing an increased amount of election funding can limit the impact of extremist groups funding politicians and influencing their actions on the floor of their respective legislatures. Much of the environmental legislature that was torn down was passed in a time of true bipartisanship versus the polarizing atmosphere currently in politics. Forcing our political leaders to get back to bipartisanship and limiting external influences from organizations negatively impacting the state will help the NC legislature find a more balanced approach to our economic and energy consumption problems.

Bibliography:

  • Editorial Board, 2013, “The Decline of North Carolina.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 9 July 2013. Web. 12 July 2013. <http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/10/opinion/the-decline-of-north-carolina.html>.
  • Edwards, David, 2013, “North Carolina Republicans Push through Anti-renewable Energy Bill in ‘banana Republic’ Vote | The Raw Story.” North Carolina Republicans Push through Anti-renewable Energy Bill in ‘banana Republic’ Vote | The Raw Story. The Raw Story, 2 May 2013. Web. 12 July 2013. <http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/05/02/north-carolina-republicans-push-through-anti-renewable-energy-bill-in-banana-republic-vote/>.
  • Germain, Tiffany, and Matt Kasper, 2013, “ALEC-Sponsored Bill to Repeal North Carolina’s Renewable Energy Standard Narrowly Passes Out Of Committee.” ThinkProgress RSS. Climate Progress, 4 Apr. 2013. Web. 12 July 2013. http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/04/04/1824171/alec-sponsored-bill-to-repeal-north-carolinas-renewable-energy-standard-narrowly-passes-out-of-committee/?mobile=nc
  • Kalmuss-Kass, Jonathan, Sive Paget, and Sive Riesel, 2013, “ENN: Environmental News Network – President Obama Announces Second Term Climate Change Agenda.” Environmental News Network Online. Environmental News Network, 28 June 2013. Web. 12 July 2013. <http://www.enn.com/pollution/article/46163>.
  • Kasper, Matt, 2013, “Efforts To Repeal North Carolina’s Clean Energy Standard Not Dead Yet.”ThinkProgress RSS. Think Progress, 31 May 2013. Web. 12 July 2013. <http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/05/31/2085321/efforts-to-repeal-north-carolinas-clean-energy-standard-not-dead-yet/?mobile=nc>.
  • Rucho, Newton, and Brock, 2013, “SENATE DRS85020-RIfa-3-Domestic Energy Jobs Bill.”North Carolina General Assembly. North Carolina General Assembly, 11 Feb. 2013. Web. 12 July 2013. <http://www.ncleg.net/gascripts/BillLookUp/BillLookUp.pl?Session=2013&BillID=s76>.

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