NCGA

Wetlands primer: Don't repeat the same mistakes of 40 years ago

Lost in the crazy Trump show is a startling move by his EPA:

In 1976, 3,000 commercial fishermen and residents signed a petition that pleaded with state officials to do something about the runoff that plagued our estuaries and threatened their ability to make a living fishing. Many of these folks were from Hyde County, and they saw firsthand vast areas of wetlands converted to “superfarms” and other land uses. Trillions of gallons of drainage flowed directly into salty estuaries. This runoff made these essential fish nurseries much less productive for shrimp, oysters, flounder, trout and other commercially and recreationally important marine life.

This regulatory rollback proposed by EPA to eliminate most existing regulatory safeguards for wetlands in our state will extinguish our fishing industry. We know from the past experiences of our fishing forefathers that no wetlands means no seafood.

If there's one thing Republicans are masters at, it's forgetting the past. Or acting like they forget, which is even worse. You can take virtually any environmental movement of the last 50 years, and you'll see a cycle of progress and regress, needed changes gained and then subsequently lost. But when it comes to something as important as wetlands, what's lost cannot be gained back again. They're not just a breeding ground for seafood resources, they're also a critical habitat for stationary and migratory avian species. But preserving wetlands is also good business, because they can greatly mitigate losses from hurricanes and flooding:

Tuesday Twitter roundup

Everybody's talking except the one who needs to talk:

Don't know what he thinks he's achieving by pleading the 5th, other than driving home the fact he knows he's guilty.

The anti-abortion extremists in the NCGA are at it again

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And as usual, Republican men are leading the charge:

House Bill 28 would ban abortions after 13 weeks unless there is a medical emergency. Current law in North Carolina bans abortions after 20 weeks.

House Bill 22 would require doctors to tell women who take the abortion pill that the process can be reversed halfway through. The bill would also require the Department of Health and Human Services to provide that information on its website.

It goes without saying the 13-week limit is not only extreme, but geared towards severely limiting a woman's choice. But the "abortion reversal" thing, especially forcing NC DHHS to sign off on such a snake-oil treatment, is fraught with both ethical and legal complications. Here's a little history about this "process":

Washington County Hospital joins ranks of NC's failing rural health care system

Another victim of privatization:

Washington County Hospital CEO Melanie Perry tells WCTI in New Bern that the facility's owner has plans to resolve several problems, including dwindling medical supplies and workers not getting paid for two weeks. Empower HMS promised 50 employees that checks would arrive Monday, but staff members said they never came. There has been no word on when or if the medical supplies will be replenished.

Perry said closing the county's only hospital would be devastating to the town of Plymouth, approximately 125 miles east of Raleigh.

Before we dig deeper into this unfortunate situation, a few words on how this could have been avoided are in order. When a public (municipal) entity provides a service, whether it's health care, transportation, water & sewer, or any other critical infrastructure issue, all considerations about turning a profit (net revenue gain, if you will) or even "breaking even" should be disregarded. Providing services to citizens is what government is for, and that's why we pay taxes. And this goes double in rural areas, where the economy simply cannot support/sustain a perpetually profitable business. Had local elected officials understood that back in 2007, they might not have sold this hospital in the first place. Because once a facility like this enters the private sector, the sharks start circling:

Tuesday Twitter roundup

You just can't fix stupid:

He produced a result, alright. And that result is an empty seat in Congress while we try to unravel this mess.

GOP Legislator served with domestic violence restraining order

The face of an abuser:

State Rep. Cody Henson, R-Transylvania, was served with a domestic violence protection order late last month, records from the Transylvania County Courthouse show. His wife, Kelsey Henson, told Carolina Public Press on Thursday that she sought help for nearly a year from law enforcement and others from behavior she describes in court filings as harassment and emotional abuse.

She filed the paperwork on Jan. 30. Cody Henson was served with the protection order the next day, court records show. “Every time I tried to report it and called 911 or went to a magistrate to try to get help, I was denied,” Kelsey Henson said. “I truly feel that was because of his position.”

This is nothing short of infuriating. Every time these supposed "public service" people shied away from taking steps, they put her life at risk. It shouldn't matter "who" he was, only that he was out of control and a danger to this woman and her children:

The real effects of Climate Change are changing minds as well

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But it may be small consolation:

The study, Climate Change in the American Mind, which was released in December, found that 46 percent of those surveyed said they had personally experienced the effects of global warming, two-thirds said global warming is affecting weather in the United States and more than half said warming has made natural disasters such as wildfires and hurricanes worse.

That change is evident in North Carolina, where record rainfalls statewide and the devastating effects of natural disasters, especially the repeated inundation of eastern North Carolina from hurricanes, has helped change the dialogue from one of questioning whether climate change is happening to what can be done about it.

Probably doesn't need to be said, but we all knew that, eventually, the catastrophic effects of Climate Change would become overwhelmingly obvious to even the most hard-headed deniers. But of course by that time, it really would be too late to stop it. I expected (maybe naively) that would happen in 2035-2040 or so. I'm afraid I was wrong. Methane buildup in the atmosphere is a game-changer:

Gentrification on steroids: The Opportunity Zone program

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Making money and dodging taxes is the American way:

Developers have a new reason to build in already-booming Durham. A new federal incentive will encourage investors in certain parts of the city, including East Durham, west of Duke University and in Southwest Durham. But the “opportunity zones” could also lead to private investors tearing down existing houses to build big, new houses and getting tax breaks on their returns, Durham County Commissioner James Hill said Monday.

“This is why this has been called the Kushner bill,” he said, referring to Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law.

Personal anecdote time, try not to yawn too much: Every year my town throws a "business social," wherein we invite dozens of movers and shakers to a hoity-toity gathering in the hopes of attracting investments. Last year, one of the speakers was a lady simply giddy with the prospect of Opportunity Zones. She's a banker, but in the investment division, and while I was waiting patiently to hear about how this might improve our town, she spent the entire time (much more than any other speaker) talking about dodging Capital Gains taxes. In short, the more the merrier. Meaning, the really high-dollar projects are preferred, and result in the best "return" on said investments. Not much room for affordable housing in that formula. Here's more from the people who really understand this:

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