NCGA

Something fishy going on with coastal Republicans

Apparently enforcing the law is bad for somebody's business:

The state budget, echoing a directive from the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission, gave Dr. Louis Daniel, NCDMF’s executive director, the authority to enter into an Joint Enforcement Agreement with the National Marine Fisheries Service that would provide the state with an estimated $600,000 per year to allow the marine patrol and NMFS enforcement officers to respond to fisheries violations in either state or federal waters off North Carolina.

But Daniel is apparently waiting on directions from John Skvarla, director of the NCDMF’s parent N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, before doing anything. And Skvarla is apparently waiting for an okay from Gov. Pat McCrory. Why? Six weeks ago, Daniel, Skvarla, McCrory, Rep. Thom Tillis (speaker of the state house and a candidate for the U.S. Senate) and Sen. Rep. Phil Berger (president of the state senate) received a letter from 10 Republican legislators expressing their opposition to the JEA, despite its having been part of the budget that was passed by both Republican-controlled houses of the legislature.

They cut the Fishery's enforcement budget in lieu of receiving these Federal dollars, and now they're trying to block that partnership. And the only logical reason is: The big commercial fishing operations are profiting from violations of the law, and they want to sink the boats of those who are tasked with enforcing them. Law and order, indeed.

NC's environment suffers under voting public's lack of concern

Callous disregard or guilty conscience?

It’s been a big year for environmental news in North Carolina. First there was a major coal ash spill into the Dan River in February that raised concerns about water quality. And there’s been a push for more hydraulic fracturing – better known as “fracking.” It’s led to packed houses at town hall meetings across the region.

But these issues aren’t likely to change the political landscape. That’s according to Jason Husser. He’s an assistant professor of political science at Elon University and also works on the university’s poll. He spoke with WFDD’s Paul Garber about where the environment ranks among voters and where it could make a difference.

This is not surprising. For years, polls have steadily shown that only about 3% of voters put environmental concerns at the top of their list of most important issues. That may have increased slightly in the wake of the spill and the looming fracking problems, but hoping it will be a major factor in November is probably naïve. I explored some of the reasons for this in an op-ed I wrote earlier in the year:

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