scharrison's blog

NC House says "No" to Mega-Port study

Hopefully this signals the General Assembly is getting better at recognizing a really bad idea when it surfaces:

The state House of Representatives on Thursday cut funding for a study that's required if the port is to be built near Southport. Among the concerns is that the proposed port, which would be the state's biggest, would be built next to a twin-reactor nuclear plant and that it could pose environmental risks to protected habitats.

The House voted 104-11 in favor of Rep. Pricey Harrison's budget amendment that eliminated the study funding. Harrison, a Greensboro Democrat, said the proposed port was envisioned more than four years ago as a public-private partnership, but the N.C. State Ports Authority had not found a private investor.

Burr to Perdue: NC just fine, no help needed

Besides, these other states are more deserving:

Hinton asked Burr about Gov. Bev Perdue’s efforts to convince him to help find more stimulus funds for the state. “I don’t think it’s the role of the federal government to come to the aid of states and bail them out.”

If the government granted economic aid on the basis of need, Burr said states like California, New York, and Illinois would qualify before North Carolina.

I'm crunching some numbers on this, so stay tuned.

Municipal broadband in the hands of Legislature

And it looks like they're trying to help Big Telecom:

The Senate Finance Committee is scheduled to take up legislation Wednesday that would force municipalities to get voter approval before borrowing money to build a broadband network. Opponents say that would give corporations a spending advantage ahead of local referendums.

Mystery question #47: When is a compromise not a compromise? When it gives one side a huge advantage over the other.

On fair weather environmentalism

When it comes to public policy, environmental concerns go out the window:

Environmental regulation is seen as a bureaucratic imposition - not as an insurance policy against potential catastrophe, and certainly not as a moral imperative.

Yes, many Americans feel good about going through the motions of environmentalism...But where the rubber hits the road - in public policy - we've reverted to our pre-enlightenment ways. When there's a perceived conflict between environmental stewardship and economic growth, the bottom line wins.

I have some ideas why this happens, but I'd like to hear your ideas as well.

Another concrete plant?

And this one's in the mountains:

NBACC and its President, Aaron Pohl-Zaretsky, received a summons yesterday morning (the day of the Public Hearing on the Air Quality Permit) informing us of a libel suit filed by Blue Ridge Concrete, and its owner Mark Turner, against NBACC and Aaron Pohl-Zaretsky personally.

This community has tried for too long to stop this plant to stop now. An apparent attempt to stifle citizen’s rights to speak their minds can be seen as an act of desperation on the part of Blue Ridge. This kind of suit is called a SLAPP suit

Criminy. I need to play catch-up on this, but now that it's on (our) radar, we'll keep you informed.

Duke Energy controls, stifles Solar power projects

You can't play if they won't throw you the ball:

Independent solar companies say they can’t even get in the door to negotiate with the Charlotte energy giant. “It’s not difficult to do a deal with them,” says Richard Harkrader of Carolina Solar Energy in Durham. “It’s impossible.”

In Charlotte, Optima Engineering founder Keith Pehl says all 17 of the independent commercial solar projects his company brought to Duke Energy in the past two years foundered on failed power-purchase negotiations. Pehl contends Duke’s approach is to control the local market and refuse to pay competitive prices for power from developers and building owners.

For Richard Burr, soldiers are merely tools to be used

Don't ask, don't tell, just do your f**king job:

Burr said he hasn’t seen compelling evidence that "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" has hurt the military’s readiness or the size and strength of the armed services. "Those folks can still fight. They’re fighting today," Burr said.

First of all, Dick, our men and women in uniform are not just assembly-line robots that fight our wars for us, they're people. They hope and dream and love and fear, just like civilians. Second of all, there are about 13,500 of them who are not fighting today because of this stupid regulation.

2nd round of appliance rebates begins Tuesday

Since there's only about $1 million left, you need to move with the quickness:

The rebates range from $75 for an Energy Star-rated freezer and dishwasher to $300 for an Energy Star-raged central AC unit and natural gas furnace. The appliances and equipment must replace older units to qualify for the incentives.

Many of these appliances and equipment can also qualify for additional incentives...For example, a $7,500 central AC unit with a SEER 16 rating and a high-efficiency heating unit can end up costing $5,000 after a combination of tax credits and other incentives are taken into account from the Energy Office ($300 for AC, $300 for furnace), Progress Energy ($300 for AC), PSNC ($100 for furnace) and the Internal Revenue Service ($1,500 for HVAC unit).

Solar industry could bring 28,000 jobs to NC

According to a new report from Environment North Carolina:

The 28,000 new jobs figure is the low-end estimate, says Elizabeth Ouzts, Environment North Carolina's state director and co-author of the report. More manufacturing could boost that number to 42,000, she says. “We need to incentivize them to be here,” Outz says of manufacturing jobs. “It’s easier to outsource.”

Already, the green power industry – which also includes wind, biomass and energy efficiency – employs 10,000 workers in 2009 and made more than $3.5 billion in revenue that year, according to the report by the state-wide nonprofit environmental advocacy organization.

The hijacking of words and symbols

Rob Schofield over at NC Policywatch has some interesting observations about the word "freedom":

There have been a lot of attempts by conservative groups in recent years to hijack the "freedom" label. Now is the time for thoughtful North Carolinians to reject these clumsy and simplistic arguments. The truth of the matter is that poverty, environmental degradation and the excesses of corporations pose just as much of a threat to freedom as taxes and government bureaucracy.

Unfortunately, through sheer repetition and some manipulative marketing (usually involving the American flag and/or other patriotic images), the ideological right has made a lot of headway with this tactic. Despite the occasional flap caused by an overmatched dimwit like (Rand) Paul, many people who should know better have come to accept this demonstrably false label for the far right's positions.

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