NC GOP

DEQ unveils new Environmental Justice & Equity Board

Something that's been a long time coming:

Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Michael Regan announced the membership of the Environmental Justice and Equity Advisory Board today. Its 16 members, inclusive of diverse racial, ethnic, gender and socio-economic backgrounds, plans to meet quarterly. Its charge is to advise Regan and DEQ on how to ensure all North Carolinians can enjoy clean air, water and land in their neighborhoods.

Since appointed by Gov. Cooper, Regan said his priority “has always been same — to redefine the agency’s purpose. It’s no secret that I wasn’t satisfied with the mission we inherited. It downplayed the protection of people and no, it did not reflect my vision and the governor’s vision of inclusivity.”

He said a mouthful with that last sentence. DENR did not (in my opinion) pay enough attention to "where" potentially polluting industries were sited, when it comes to the socioeconomic class of people affected, anyway. That was before the scourge of McCrory, where the dynamic duo of John Skvarla and Donald van der Vaart played the Citizens United card by elevating industry to the same level (or above) regular citizens by labeling them as "customers" and not potential bad actors that needed close watching. As to environmental justice, I'ma just quote myself to save some time:

Coal Ash Wednesday: Virginia defies Scott Pruitt's rollback of CCR rules

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Providing Roy Cooper a blueprint to do the same:

Virginia's governor says the state has no plans to change its coal ash management practices, despite an Environmental Protection Agency plan to roll back regulations governing the byproduct generated by coal-burning power plants. Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam said in a statement Tuesday that the Department of Environmental Quality will maintain its program for regulating coal ash.

The announcement from Northam comes after the EPA announced in March that it was rewriting the rules. It said at the time that the change would save utilities $100 million annually in compliance costs and give states more flexibility in enforcement. Critics said the changes would weaken protections for human health and the environment. The state also filed written comments with EPA, urging the agency not to weaken the rule.

Just a little background: It took several years from the point the EPA announced it was (finally) going to develop rules for storage and disposal of coal ash, and the actual rules being enacted. Reams of research, thousands of hours of testimony and feedback from the public and utilities went into this before it was promulgated. And the end result was (of course) weaker than many of us had hoped. But not weak enough for Scott Pruitt, apparently. He would have done this regardless, but this petition by a couple of utility groups set the formal process in motion:

Tuesday Twitter roundup

Right Congressional action, wrong target:

That's right, Mark Meadows just might be a traitor himself. Trying to impeach the Deputy Attorney General because he refuses to do what the Attorney General *can't* do, fire the Special Counsel investigating Russian efforts to subvert the American electoral process. Good lord.

Justin Burr's mysterious crusade against sitting judges

Hat-tip to NC Policy Watch for exploring this nonsense:

More than 100 judges with thousands of years of combined experience could be wiped from the North Carolina bench by a bail bond agent who has served less than a decade in the General Assembly, and no one really knows why. Many judges learned of their potential unemployment on Twitter last summer when Rep. Justin Burr (a private bail bond agent by profession) unveiled his surprise judicial redistricting plan. They’ve been trying to figure out what’s going on ever since.

“It’s stressful because it’s created this cloud of anxiety since June about what are they going to do next. Do I have to move? What do I have to do?” said District Court Judge Robin Wicks Robinson, who serves New Hanover and Pender counties. “There is a powerlessness feeling and feeling of anxiety that overwhelms.”

Understand, double-bunking at such a high rate does not happen by accident, it requires a design. An intentional effort to create a new batch of judges in a system that is already crushed under poor funding and a growing caseload. And it should come as no surprise that the people who will suffer the most under this plan are on the low end of the economic spectrum:

Big-government Republicans set to gerrymander Asheville

Once again choosing power over people who don't want their "help":

Sen. Chuck Edwards, R-Henderson, said his plans to have the legislature draw district maps for City Council during the coming session have not changed. The General Assembly passed a bill he sponsored last year that gave council a chance to draw districts, but directs the legislature to do so if council didn't.

But Sen. Terry Van Duyn, D-Buncombe, said council did act when it put the question of whether to go to a district system on the ballot in last November's election. She noted that "not a single precinct" in the city, including those in South Asheville where backing for districts appears to be strongest, gave the idea a majority. Citywide, 75 percent voted against districts.

While it could be said that City demographics would inhibit Republicans from actually winning a majority on the Council (unless they got really crazy with the map), double-bunking current Asheville leaders is a distinct possibility. Whatever the case, the people have spoken. And a continued effort to do this after that voice was heard makes a mockery of democracy.

Proposed pipeline extension generates early opposition

Something wicked this way comes:

More than two dozen Haw River stakeholders concerned about a proposed natural gas pipeline that would extend into Alamance County met in Burlington on Wednesday, April 25, to organize opposition. Mountain Valley Pipeline wants to install a pipeline that would begin in Pittsylvania County, Va., and extend about 70 miles south to Rockingham and Alamance counties and end in Graham, just south of Interstate 40-85. Initial plans show the pipeline could parallel the Haw River beginning in southeastern Rockingham County.

The Haw River Assembly hosted the meeting at the Company Shops Market. The Chatham County-based nonprofit says that it has been “defending the river since 1982” and is worried about the environmental damage the pipeline could cause. Mountain Valley Pipeline wants to start construction in 2020 but must receive federal approval.

Many years ago the City of Burlington had just one drinking water reservoir, but as the population grew, the City impounded another (larger) reservoir a few miles North. Those two are connected via a spillway and the original creek, and this pipeline extension will cross between the two. And after it does, it will follow the Haw River very closely for several miles before terminating. That means Jordan Lake is also at risk of potential contamination, so this is not just a local problem, folks. Here's more from the Haw Riverkeeper:

Tuesday Twitter roundup

A heaping dose of truth for you this a.m.:

If I didn't have a VA Loan option, it would have been (at least) ten years later before I could have gone from renter to homeowner. We need to fix this. **added note: It's Vicki's birthday today, which I did not realize when I ran her to the top of the flagpole here. But she has earned that spot, for the countless hours she's spent at the General Assembly (and everywhere else) observing and reporting public policy.

NC's GOP Congressmen lining up to take lone female Republican leader's job

Like misogynistic sharks at a feeding frenzy:

The lone female member of House Republican leadership is under siege in D.C. and back home in Washington state. In Congress, several fellow GOP members are pining for her job, questioning her effectiveness as chairwoman of the conference and weighing whether to challenge her.

At least one Republican, Rep. Mark Walker of North Carolina, is seriously considering challenging McMorris Rodgers, several of those sources said. But the other lawmakers who want her job are hoping McMorris Rodgers steps down or runs for another position.

Of course that had to come from anonymous sources, because Mark Walker would never give anyone a straight answer on the record. He is a master at dodging questions (and people), and if you ask him about this he'd probably launch into a poorly thought-out diatribe about government getting out of the way of business. Or whatever is percolating in that walnut-sized brain of his at the time. But she probably won't get promoted either, because little Paddy McHenry has got plans of his own:

NC GOP subsidizes Unaffiliated candidate's ballot access and campaign

Not sure if this is even legal, but it's definitely unethical:

Independent N.C. House candidate Ken Fontenot should have enough signatures to see his name on the ballot in November, but supporters aren’t counting electoral chickens before they hatch. “Because they’re not verified, I’m not claiming victory,” said Christy Fyle, chairwoman of the Wilson County Republican Party.

The N.C. Republican Party is also backing Fontenot. State party officials paid for mailers that include a detachable petition signature form with a postage-paid return label to be distributed to 6,000 Wilson County homes. Rep. Susan Martin, R-Wilson, recorded a robocall urging Wilson voters to sign the petition.

Bolding mine, because it takes a special kind of idiot reporter to crank out such nonsense. You're either independent or you're not, and this candidate is not even close:

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