The Asheville Citizen-Times
October 2, 2013
Environment North Carolina’s ranking of the 2013 General Assembly are out, and there are no surprises. Democrats passed and Republicans failed.
In fact, 32 of the 33 Republicans in the Senate voted wrong, in the environmental group’s view, on all 13 votes surveyed. The 32 include Ralph Hise of Spruce Pine, Tom Apodaca of Hendersonville and Jim Davis of Franklin. Martin Nesbitt of Asheville was one of five Democrats earning a perfect score.
Twenty-four of the 120 representatives, all Republicans, were rated wrong on the nine votes considered.
Rep. Chuck McGrady of Hendersonville was the highest ranking Republican in either chamber. He cast what Environment North Carolina rated as correct votes eight times out of nine. Tim Moffitt of Asheville cast such a vote only once in the eight issues on which he voted.
The Senate was singled out for special scorn. “This year, the Senate approved extreme measures to rush the state into fracking, do away with protections for our beaches, rivers and lakes, and dismantle our environmental commissions,” said Elizabeth Ouzts, Environment North Carolina state director. …
Perhaps the most onerous single measure was the omnibus regulatory reform act. This law, in the words of Environment North Carolina, “drastically limits local control over air and water protections, weakens protections for groundwater and begins the repeal of thousands of environmental regulations.”
Among other things, the bill wipes out local living-wage laws, allows more trees to be cut in front of billboards and halts enforcement of groundwater standards until pollution leaves the polluter’s property.
Legislators aren’t the only ones in North Carolina government to demonstrate a cavalier attitude toward the environment. The Charlotte Observer takes the Department of Environmental Resources to task for refusing two federal grants totaling $582,305 to study streams and wetlands.
Without the federal money, monitoring will be done either by a DENR that has been drastically cut back or by the potential polluters. The Observer calls that “irresponsible.” We agree.
Environment North Carolina praises those legislators who had perfect scores and asks others to follow their lead. “We’re grateful for these champions,” said Liz Kazal, a field associate. “But the fact is, the environmental zeroes far outnumber the heroes. .
It will be an uphill struggle. Recent developments show once again how U.S. conservatism has changed in recent decades. From Theodore Roosevelt to Richard Nixon, during whose administration many landmark environmental laws were enacted, conservatives were in the forefront of conservation. After all, the two words are related.
Today, however, to be a conservative, you apparently have to favor allowing industry to do as it wishes with the air and water. A strange turnaround, indeed.