First, a little uninformed misinformation:
Acknowledging the timing was ironic, a trio of Republican state senators this morning held a news conference to announce they had filed a bill to open up the North Carolina coast to energy drilling. Today is the one-year anniversary of the BP oil disaster in the Gulf Coast.
“But what we did learn from this disaster is we learned from our mistakes,” Rucho said. “The industry has already found ways to make sure that oil exploration and production can be done in a very safe manner.”
Apparently Bob has his Tivo set to record all of BP's tv commercials. (addendum: Read the diary below this for more BP stuff) Okay, let's take a look at the bill itself:
AN ACT to increase energy production in north carolina to develop a secure, stable, and predictable energy supply to facilitate economic growth, job creation, and expansion of business and industry opportunities and to assign future revenue from energy exploration, development, and production of energy resources in order to protect and preserve the state's natural resources, cultural heritage, and quality of life.
There are several "whereas"'s following the title, including this one:
Whereas, the Legislative Research Commission's Advisory Committee on Offshore Energy Exploration heard testimony and received a report from the University of North Carolina Wind Study Group that found a yet to be quantified potential for utility‑scale production of wind energy off the coast of North Carolina and possibly within eastern Pamlico Sound
But before my fellow wind supporters get all excited and start rubbing their hands together, a closer look at who is going to be prioritizing these efforts is in order.
Like so many other bills put forward by the Republican majority in the Legislature, this bill is another power grab, taking from the Executive and shifting to the Legislative. Notice what has been struck out:
PolicyJobs Council shall consist of 169 members to be appointed as follows:
Two members of the North Carolina House of Representatives to be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives;
Two members of the North Carolina Senate to be appointed by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate;
(2a) The Secretary of Commerce.
TwelveEight public members who are citizens of the State of North Carolina to be appointed by the Governor. The Governor shall designate one of the public members as chair of the Council.Carolina and who are appointed in accordance with subsection (c) of this section.
What had been a majority of the (old) Council appointed by the Governor (12 out of sixteen) would now be a majority appointed by Republican leaders (6 out of 9). And as soon as Bev signs this into law (which would be stupid, by the way), the former Council would be disbanded immediately.
Although this Council would mostly be tasked with information gathering, it would also decide what information needed to be gathered:
PolicyJobs Council is authorized to secure directly from any officer, office, department, commission, board, bureau, institution and other agency of the State and its political subdivisions any information it deems necessary to carry out its functions; and all such officers and agencies shall cooperate with the Council and, to the extent permitted by law, furnish such information to the Council as it may request.
(e) The Department of Commerce shall provide the staffing capability to the Energy
PolicyJobs Council so as to fully and effectively develop recommendations for a comprehensive State energy policy as contained in the provisions of this Article. The Utilities Commission is hereby authorized to make its staff available to the Council to assist in the development of a State energy policy."
And now for the answer to my "wind energy" comment above. These are the people who will make up this Republican-controlled Council, which will decide what research/information should be provided to lawmakers:
(1) One member shall be
experienced in the electric power industry;a representative of an investor‑owned electric public utility, to be appointed by the Governor.
(2) One member shall be
experienced in the natural gas industry;experienced in offshore natural gas and associated hydrocarbon exploration, development, and production, to be appointed by the Governor.
One member shall be experienced in energy policy matters;
(3) One member shall be
experienced in alternative fuels and biofuels;a representative of an investor‑owned natural gas public utility, to be appointed by the President Pro Tempore.
(4) One member shall be
experienced in energy efficient building design or construction;an energy economist, to be appointed by the President Pro Tempore.
(5) One member shall be
experienced in environmental protection;a geologist with experience in hydrocarbon resource evaluation and geophysical data acquisition, to be appointed by the President Pro Tempore.
(6) One member
who is engaged in a business providing renewable energy or other energy services;shall be an industrial energy consumer, to be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
(7) One member shall be knowledgeable of alternative and renewable sources of
energy;energy, to be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
(8) One member
who, at the time of appointment, is a county commissioner; or elected municipal officer; provided, the member's term on the Council shall expire immediately in the event that he or she vacates office as a county commissioner or municipal officer;who has experience in trucking, rail, or shipping transportation, to be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
This bill is full of happy talk, and the makeup of this council will ensure that nothing but happy talk makes its way into the research which will inform public policy.