RALEIGH, N.C. — The General Assembly's decision to authorize natural gas drilling in North Carolina over Gov. Beverly Perdue's objections has led an environmental group to rescind its award to a House member who voted to override Perdue's veto.
The North Carolina League of Conservation Voters announced Tuesday it would ask Rep. Susi Hamilton of Wilmington to return her "Rising Star" award. The first-term Democrat had been honored for her pro-environmental record.
"I have to protect the integrity of our organization, and we have to get our award back on this one," Dan Crawford of the League of Conservation Voters said.
Hamilton had earlier opposed the legislation, and her name even appeared on a letter asking Perdue to veto the bill. She said her name wasn't supposed to be on that letter and that she never wanted the veto.
"This is probably the best compromise we're going to get for right now," she said of the bill, which would allow natural gas exploration, including a controversial drilling technique known as "fracking," as early as 2014.
Her override vote came shortly after Republican House leaders offered to extend a film industry tax credit. The $60 million credit could help entice a "Captain America" sequel to film in Hamilton's district.
Hamilton said there's no connection between her vote to legalize fracking and the tax credit.
"It is a win for North Carolina to have the film credit extended," she said.
Crawford said the timing of the flip-flop on the gas drilling bill is suspicious.
"It's kind of odd. It doesn't pass the smell test," he said. "If that's her decision, she needs to stand by it, just like I'm standing by our decision to take our award back."
House Speaker Thom Tillis didn't deny a deal was cut.
"Virtually every single bill outside of golf cart bills has to go through some negotiation to get members on board, and that's precisely what happened here," Tillis said.
Hamilton called the retraction of the award unfortunate, but she said the group has the right to give and take away its awards.