Roundup of bad environmental bills permeating the General Assembly

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Taft Wireback fills in the details:

Changes afoot in the Republican-controlled legislature would limit local governments’ power to create buffer zones beside streams, shield agribusinesses from high damage awards in certain types of lawsuits and fully endorse a new landfill technology that some consider iffy.

Other proposals still under consideration as the session moves into its second half include restrictions on wind-farm development, efforts to roll back state support for solar power and the repeal of a regional ban on plastic grocery bags aimed at protecting sea turtles.

To say I've grown tired of having to post these things every single year since 2011 is a gross understatement. And for every pollution-loving jackass Republican who retires from the Legislature, it seems like two new ones step forward to take his place. And the two sides of this coin couldn't be more different:

The clash between environmental advocates and conservative legislators stems from deep-seated convictions on both sides. Activists see right-of-center legislators as beholden to business interests and too willing to sacrifice natural resources for commercial ends.

Business-oriented partisans counter that environmentalists are too quick to sacrifice individual property rights and free enterprise to trendy ecological concerns.

Buffers are not "trendy," by any stretch of the imagination. When the Clean Water Act was amended in the mid-1980's to address the persistent problems associated with non-point source (stormwater) pollution, the use of buffers to filter some of that pollution was quickly identified as a necessary element of best practices. So we've had almost three decades of science telling us what to do, if we really want to improve water quality. The last part of that sentence is where Republicans have failed the citizens miserably. They don't really care about water quality, so they try to attack these scientific findings in a sophomoric fashion, reducing them to snide comments about kooky tree-huggers. Nevermind the fact the original ideas came from hydrologists with PhD's and such. Oh no, you can't let real science in, because that severely limits your ability to pass bullshit off as sound government.

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Read the whole article,

and not just my angry ranting. Taft rarely writes anything without exploring many avenues:

The nonprofit groups that advocate for the environment say there are several bills in the General Assembly’s hopper this session that they rate highly and think would be helpful.

They include a proposal to require schools and child care facilities to test their water supplies for lead and to respond properly if too much of the metal is found. Another sponsored by state Rep. Pricey Harrison (D-Greensboro) would give taxpayers the option of sending some or all of their annual state tax refunds to a grant program for conservation projects.

In fact, Harrison has sponsored a number of bills this session that environmental groups applaud, including one that would forbid Duke Energy from recovering coal-ash cleanup costs by hiking customer rates and another that would encourage conservation by letting state agencies keep in their budgets whatever money they save by cutting energy usage.

But as a member of the minority party, Harrison has limited ability to make things happen in a General Assembly.

Like I've said before: Even if progressive legislation doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of escaping from committee dungeons, it still needs to be written. And written about. "This is what you can have if you want it" is an extremely important message to voters.