"Energy bill hits snag in House" reads the headline in today's News & Observer.
And it's a well-deserved and overdue snag!
Please take a look at today's article on energy legislation in the Raleigh News & Observer:
It's not a perfect article--a spokesperson for Progress Energy is still quoted spouting the nonsense that this is a consensus bill--but it gets the basic points straight, which is tough to do with this controversial and complex topic.
At any rate, here is my pitch to BlueNC readers: If you agree that what started as outstanding legislation promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy resources should not be hijacked to promote building unnecessary new coal and nuclear plants instead, there is still time for your voice to be heard.
The clock is ticking on the future of energy policy in North Carolina. Our clean air, public health, and affordable electricity for our homes, cities, schools, and businesses are all at stake now.
Senate Bill 3, once the renewable energy bill but now rewritten and renamed to reveal its changed effect of promoting more baseload plant construction, is on a fast track to passage. Pressure from powerful special interest lobbies, including the power companies, has rammed the revised bill through the Senate and is poised to do the same in the House.
Many legislators literally do not understand what they are being asked to vote for in the details of this extremely complex legislation. The special interest lobbies are trying their usual strategy, to force a quick vote before the truth can be explained and the problems fixed.
Senate Bill 3 in its present form will promote the construction of unnecessary and enormously expensive new baseload power plants. If it passes in this form, residential and business consumers will pay billions of dollars for plant construction that could have been avoided. It will hurt families and kill jobs in our state. This is truly a consumer catastrophe in the making.
Only leadership from the N.C. House of Representatives and the Governor can protect us from this disaster.
The next few days will be critical in this debate. Your opinion, publicly expressed now, will be heard.
Most regular readers of BlueNC will probably know your representatives' contact information by heart. But if you don't have the name or contact information for your representative in the N.C. House, you can get it at www.ncleg.net. About half-way down the right side of the home page is an option titled "Who Represents Me?" where you can type in your zip code and be connected to that information.
Governor Michael Easley's office may be called toll-free in North Carolina at 1-800-662-7952.
I feel a special obligation to speak up on this issue because of my long involvement in this policy area. I was actively involved in the debate over utility and energy policy as far back as 1982, when much of our current law in this area was adopted. (I even wrote some of the language in the law in effect now.) Through my continuing involvement in this key public policy area in our state, I understand the problems of the proposed bill in greater detail than most observers.
I know it's unusual for a candidate for statewide office to get so actively involved in a debate over legislation at this stage of a campaign. However, this issue is simply too important to the future of our state to let pass an opportunity to impact the decision. Rational and forward-looking energy policy is one of the keys to our future in North Carolina. A hasty, wrong-headed decision in this area now will make it enormously more difficult for the people and future leaders of our state to take us in the right direction over the coming generation.