And the un-democratic approach of local lawmakers:
Some 300 people showed up at the town hall that Monday evening, filling the meeting room and spilling into the parking lot. Angry locals waited as long as two hours to confront Mayor Dean Lambeth, who recently had signed a letter to the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, endorsing a move to begin seismic testing for oil and gas deposits off the North Carolina coast. The letter had been written by America's Energy Forum, an arm of the American Petroleum Institute, an oil and gas industry lobby group. Lambeth had signed it, lending his endorsement as the mayor of Kure Beach, without any public debate.
It's a good bet a lot of those angry locals rely on tourism for their livelihoods, even if they're not environmentalists in the classic sense. And the last thing you want to do as a small-town Mayor is piss off small business owners. They can flip a local election in the amount of time it takes to say, "Start packing your stuff, we may have to leave town." And it doesn't take much to spread that outrage statewide:
But as a Facing South investigation found, by early 2012 the Governors Coalition had turned over its day-to-day management to the Consumer Energy Alliance, a "social welfare" nonprofit that does not have to disclose its donors but whose members include leading energy companies. The Alliance in turn is closely tied to HBW Resources, a corporate lobbying and public relations firm representing energy interests. The connection between the Governors Coalition and the Consumer Energy Alliance went publicly undisclosed until reporters began asking about it in 2014, and since McCrory became chair his office has been slow to answer reporters' public records requests about the Coalition's operations.
McCrory's use of his state position to lead a secretive group run in part by oil and gas lobbyists has raised concerns among government ethics watchdogs about transparency and conflicts of interest. There are also concerns that, as full-bore advocates of drilling, McCrory and the other members of the Governors Coalition are not representing the interests of their states' coastal communities, where a diverse array of residents and groups have voiced strong reservations about offshore oil and gas development.
I've had more than one discussion with Republicans over McCrory's choice to allow industry reps to operate out of his office, and they usually make a half-hearted attempt to defend the move. But they also usually end up saying, "I don't like the idea of the Governor being so blatantly influenced, but..." Yada yada. Drill, baby, drill. The fossil fuel industry has spent an assload of money on propaganda, and it has paid off.