scharrison's blog

Rick Martinez gets it wrong again

As he tries to spray dispersants on the growing concerns over offshore drilling:

The pictures of oil from the BP gusher reaching the shores of Louisiana tear at my heart. But the images haven't changed my mind about offshore oil exploration. I'm still a "Drill, baby, drill" guy.

I've previously written about the need to do a full cost accounting of alternative energy such as solar, wind and biomass. Now it's time to apply the same standard to oil. As with every other source of energy, I want to know the true cost of oil exploration and extraction, and that includes the cost of safety measures to prevent catastrophic blowouts.

No, you don't, Ricky. You say you want to know, but that's only to make your other wants seem reasonable.

Mystery powder slightly less mysterious

We know a little about what it isn't, but we still don't know what it is:

The powder sent in a letter to the governor's office has tested negative for hazardous materials, according to the N.C. Division of Public Health.

The powder was discovered in a letter sent to the State Capitol about 3 p.m. Monday. The letter was opened in an office near Gov. Bev Perdue's office.

Maybe I've been watching too much CSI, but it should be easy to figure out if it's flour, baking soda, or whatever. Close the loop, people.

Genetically-modified trees marching North

Just because you can do a thing, it doesn't necessarily follow that you should:

The commercial paper industry's plans to plant forests of genetically altered eucalyptus trees in seven Southern states have generated more cries from critics worried that such a large introduction of a bioengineered nonnative plant could throw natural ecosystems out of whack.

ArborGen, a biotechnology venture affiliated with three large paper companies, got U.S. Department of Agriculture approval last month for field trials involving as many as 250,000 trees planted at 29 sites during the next few years. Much smaller lots of the genetically altered trees have been growing in some of the states for years.

McCrory launches "I'll say anything to get elected" tour

First phase: woo the immigrant-haters:

"What is wrong with the new law on immigration in Arizona?" said McCrory, the GOP nominee for governor in 2008, drawing a roar from 800 delegates to the Republican convention in Winston-Salem. "We ought to pass the same exact fair law."

McCrory's embrace of the Arizona law comes at a time when he is trying to win the support of the party's more conservative wing, some of whom have been skeptical of him since he supported a mass transit tax in Charlotte.

G.K. Butterfield gets chewed in Chowan

I think we should formally declare "Town Halled" as a verb, like keelhauling:

U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C.. encountered Chowan County’s version of a “tough crowd” during an often confrontational town hall discussion about health care reform in Edenton Thursday.

Butterfield, who voted for the landmark health care reform legislation in March, was peppered with mostly hostile questions and comments about the new federal law by an audience of about 60 at the Chowan County Senior Center.

Teachers at risk, again

And they need a serious lifeline from the Federal government:

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and two top North Carolina Democrats warned Thursday that without federal funds, thousands of teachers would be laid off in the coming weeks.

The jobs of 10,000 North Carolina teachers are at risk among 300,000 nationwide, Duncan said, as recession-hit state and local governments struggle to meet requirements to balance their budgets. Layoffs seem likely without federal support, Duncan said during a visit to Durham's Southern High School with Gov. Beverly Perdue and U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge, D-N.C.

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.

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