WENOCA _ The Sierra Club of Western North Carolina Message Board › Legislative and Political Update
The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) announced that they will be retiring 18 units of coal-fired power plant representing 2,700 megawatts of power. This will result in the largest ever reduction of air pollution in the Southeast! It should have a significant impact on air quality in Western NC. This was the result of a settlement of a law suit filed by NC Attorney General Roy Cooper, the Sierra Club and others.
At the Federal level, bills to strip the EPA of its authority to regulate greenhouse gas, clean air and clean water have passed the US House, but have been blocked in the US Senate. We anticipate that attempts will be made to attach these harmful bills to must pass legislation such as “raising the debt ceiling” or the budget. Please let Congressman Heath Shuler and Senator Kay Hagan know that you appreciate their votes against this bad legislation and let Senator Burr know that you are disappointed with his bad votes on these issues.
In North Carolina, a number of bills are being considered that will roll back 30 years of environmental progress in our state. These include:
-S709 Energy Jobs Act will be on the Senate floor next Tuesday. As a reminder this bill would: (1) Direct the governor to enter a compact with neighboring states aimed at accelerating offshore drilling; (2) direct DENR to study fracking; and (3) dismantle the Energy Policy Council and rename it the "Energy Jobs Council".
-The State House has passed a budget that makes radical cuts to DENR (the states Department of Energy and Natural Resources) that would essentially prevent them from doing their jobs. As one commentator put it, the appropriations committee is changing environmental policy through budget cuts. For example, the Western NC DENR office staff would be reduced by 2/3’s.
-High-Speed Rail Update: The House approved a version H422 of Rep. Ric Killian's infamous high-speed rail bill. The first version of the bill directed the state to return the $461 million grant from the federal government for high-speed rail. The final version of bill that was passed allowed the state to accept the $461 million, but in the future DOT will not be able to accept money without explicit approval from the legislature.
Please thank Representatives Keever, Fisher, Hare, McGrady, and Rapp and Senator Nesbitt for trying to stop these bad bills. Let Representative Moffitt and the other Republican Representatives and Senators know how disappointed you are in their support of efforts to roll back environmental protections.
A few good environmental bills have been introduced in Raleigh that deserve our support:
-for Energy Efficient Homes!: Four members of the House filed H918 this week. One of the provisions of the bill is a $1500 tax credit for new homes built to the voluntary 30% energy efficiency levels (or higher) as outlined in the pending 2012 building code.
-Solar Jobs Bill: House Bill 495 and Senate Bill 473 were filed this week. These bills would double the solar carve out in the state's renewable energy portfolio standard. You can read about it more in this N&O story. Not only would this bill help transition our state to a renewable energy economy, it will also create an estimate 6,000 new jobs in North Carolina. Critics are already ramping up the opposition for this bill, so I encourage you to take second and email the bill sponsors to thank them for introducing the bill, and write a letter to your local paper to support this important legislation.
-NC Water Security Act: Senator Dan Clodfelter (D- Mecklenburg) recently filed Senate Bill 427. This bill would make a number of changes to state law to increase water efficiency, including mandating that local water plans include a water efficiency plan, and requiring the state to incorporate recent water efficiency provisions in the International Building Code.
Offshore Wind Bill Filed in the Senate: Senators Hartsell (R-Iredell), Stein (D-Wake), and Bingham (R-Guilford) filed Senate Bill 747, the Offshore Wind Jobs and Economic Development Act. The bill would encourage the production of offshore wind off of North Carolina's coast as well as encourage wind turbine manufacturing facilities to locate in North Carolina.
Please encourage your state representatives and senators to support these bills.