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Co-chairs of NC’s Environmental Review Committee belong to ALEC

January 25, 2012 Leave a comment

The NC General Assembly’s  Environmental Review Committee has authority over the state’s Division of Environmental Resources (DENR) and tremendous power over the future  air, water, land and the health of living beings and ecosystems of our state.  For example, the commission is currently considering abolishing the state’s Air Toxics Program which monitors facilities that produce toxic air pollution and evaluates the public health impact. (For a good overview, see a WRAL report from September 2011).

Members of this Environmental Review Committee who belong to ALEC include:
Senator David Rouzer, Co-Chair
Representative Ruth Samuelson, Co-Chair
Representative Chuck McGrady.

The ALEC-influenced S781 bill passed by the NC GOP legislature in 2011 gives the Environmental Review Committee increased powers over DENR and requires DENR to  review all its rules, report those that exceed federal standards, and, in keeping with the dictums of ALEC, to repeal those that do.

The Air Toxics Program is said to be more stringent than Federal requirements, but in 2007, North Carolina was ranked 4th highest in the country for hazardous air pollutants. [Oy.  No wonder I can’t breathe when I’m working in my garden during the summer!]

ALEC Energy Task Force chair also director at Art Pope’s John Locke Foundation

January 25, 2012 Leave a comment

Last fall, the New Yorker  featured North Carolina’s Art Pope in its investigative report “State for Sale: A conservative multimillionaire has taken control in North Carolina . . .”  Among other alarming facts, the report documents Pope’s long-standing relationship with the billionaire Koch brothers, who are known to be major backers of  the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).  This article did not note the connection between Pope and ALEC, however. The website Art Pope Exposed, a project of the Institute for Southern Studies, provides some clues.

For example, in “Pope-backed climate deniers fight NC’s renewable energy programArt Pope Exposed reports that Daren Bakst, director of legal and regulatory studies and “chief climate-science denier” for Art Pope’s John Locke Foundation, is also  ALEC Energy Task Force chairperson.

ALEC members from NC districts targeted for “fracking” voted for SB 709

January 9, 2012 Leave a comment

Also known as the Drill Bill, SB 709 was vetoed by Gov. Perdue in June 2011. As observed by NC Policy Watch,

“[NC environmental groups] worried this piece of legislation would promote offshore drilling, open the door to fracking, and restructure the NC Energy Policy Council into a one-sided panel of industry representatives.”

Fears remain that the NC GOP will over-ride this veto.

Of the  ten NC legislators from areas with potential for hydraulic fracking who voted for SB 709, eight have ties to ALEC.  They are listed below with links to their ALEC activities and their legislative information from the NC General Assembly:

Rep. Marilyn Avila (R-40 Wake), attended ALEC 2011 Annual Meeting. NCGA Member info.

Rep. Justin P. Burr (R-67 Montgomery, Stanly, Union), ALEC Public Safety and Elections Task Force Member, attended ALEC 2011 Annual Meeting. NCGA Member info.
Rep. Julia Howard (R-79 Davie, Iredell), ALEC Health and Human Services Task Force Member, attended ALEC 2011 Annual Meeting. NCGA Member info

Rep. Darrell McCormick (R-92 Iredell, Surry, Yadkin), attended ALEC 2011 Annual Meeting. NCGA Member info.

Rep. Tom Murry (R-41 Wake), ALEC Health and Human Services Task Force Member, attended ALEC 2011 Annual Meeting. NCGA Member info.

Rep. Paul B. Stam, Jr. (R-37 Wake), ALEC Civil Justice Task Force Member, attended ALEC 2011 Annual Meeting. NCGA Member info.

Rep. Mike Stone (R-51 Harnett, Lee), attended ALEC 2011 Annual Meeting. NCGA Member info.

All these legislators  attended the reportedly lavish ALEC 2011 Annual Meeting in New Orleans in August, 2011. As a major highlight, ALEC  celebrated the advancement of the whole ALEC agenda in North Carolina during 2011. For more information about that meeting, see ALEC likes Tillis.

NC ALEC members push the “Rush to Frack” Oil and Gas Study

October 20, 2011 Leave a comment

The following is an excerpt from the 3-page email I sent to the North Carolina DENR in response to the request for public input on the proposed plan for the Oil and Gas Study under S.L. 2011-276 (also known as the Rush to Frack act):

I also just learned that Rep. Mike Stone of Sanford co-sponsored the Oil and Gas Study under S.L. 2011-276. Rep. Stone, along with over 30 other North Carolina legislators, is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) (source, N&O, ALEC likes Tillis).  While this membership is certainly above board, ALEC is known to be heavily funded by corporate interests including the the American Gas Association, which lobbies in favor of hydraulic fracturing (source, ALEC Exposed). This raises disturbing concerns about the motivation behind limiting the funding and timeline for the Oil and Gas Study.