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Opinion Roundup: Public hearings add new element to N.C. offshore drilling debate

Posted August 8

Nags Head, Outer Banks

Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017 -- A roundup of opinion, commentary and analysis on the public's chance to weigh in on offshore drilling, a Senate step to protect the integrity of the Russia investigation, the local battle over beer distribution rights and more.

ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT
LAURA LESLIE: Offshore drilling backers, opponents ready for NC battle (WRAL-TV analysis) -- Federal regulators again want to hear what North Carolinians think about allowing oil and gas drilling off the state's coast.

Keeping public informed on GenX is vital (Wilmington Star-News) -- Less than two months after the StarNews revealed the presence of the chemical compound GenX in the local water supply, several parties have begun preliminary legal action. Cape Fear Public Utility Authority has notified both Chemours and DuPont that it plans to sue them in federal court, alleging past and present violations of the federal Clean Water Act and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

LISA FRIEDMAN: Scientists Fear Trump Will Dismiss Climate Change Report (New York Times analysis) -- The Times has reviewed an alarming draft report by government scientists who say climate change is happening now and severely affecting the United States.

POLITICS & POLICY
Tillis offers a shield (Greensboro News & Record) -- Sen. Thom Tillis hasn’t joined Republican colleagues who have spoken out against President Donald Trump. But he took a significant action last week that makes a very strong statement.

DANIEL HEMEL & ERIC POSNER: A Better Way to Protect Robert Mueller (New York Times analysis) – Senators, including Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), introduced two bipartisan bills last week to block President Trump from firing Robert Mueller, the special counsel in the Russian election tampering investigation. Both bills mean well, but both miss the mark. While they provide Mr. Mueller with a modicum of job security, they do not prevent President Trump from interfering with the investigation.

JULES WITCOVER: As Mueller investigation closes in, Senate checks Trump (LA Times column) -- Anxiety is rising in the White House over Special Counsel Robert Mueller's forming of a grand jury to investigate possible coordination between the Donald Trump presidential campaign and the Russian government — allegations that President Trump continues to label "a witch hunt."

JIM MORRILL: Did big money stop craft beer from expanding in NC? (Charlotte Observer analysis) -- North Carolina beer distributors used political contributions this year to reinforce their battle with craft brewers, pouring more than $90,000 into the campaigns of influential lawmakers. Individually and through their political action committee, distributors made the contributions as they turned back an effort by craft brewers to raise the self-distribution cap.

NCGA’s pitiful stall tactics only delay justice (Asheville Citizen-Times) -- North Carolina voters got less than half a loaf from three federal judges last week. The decision was just one more step in tweaking an election system that is hopelessly broken.

A vindictive Charlotte mayor? (Charlotte Observer) -- City Council veteran loses prime committee role days after his proposal catches Democrats off guard.

MIKE CAUSEY: Volunteer fire departments face recruitment struggles (Hickory Record column) -- Over the past few weeks, I’ve been touring volunteer fire departments and talking to firefighters and emergency workers in all regions of our great state.

SHARON NUNN: As Black-Owned Banks Struggle, Community Sounds Alarm (Wall Street Journal analysis) -- The number of black-owned banks operating in the U.S. has been dropping steadily for the past 15 years, leaving many African-American communities short of access to capital and traditional financial services.

Federal red tape strangled Wilson’s Cornerstone Bank (Wilson Times) -- Complex rules designed to prevent risky lending at the nation’s trillion-dollar titans of “too-big-to-fail” finance likely cost Wilson its only locally owned community bank.

Workplace safety (Winston-Salem Journal) -- A downtown Winston-Salem accident led to a penalty for a Rural Hall company and a reminder to all of us to take workplace safety seriously.

EDUCATION
TAWNELL D. HOBBS: Opponents of School Spending Accounts Claim Victory in Arizona (Wall Street Journal analysis) -- A group aiming to stop the expansion of an Arizona program that gives parents state taxpayer money to pay for private schools or other education claimed an early victory. Florida, Mississippi and Tennessee use similar programs. North Carolina’s program will start providing money to families in the 2018-19 school year.

LIZ BELL: Diving into N.C. college access – College Advising Corps (EdNC analysis) -- College Advising Corps took an untraditional route when they discovered parent engagement was the biggest influencer on students’ postsecondary education decisions: they started texting parents.

AND MORE
JEFF HAMPTON: Hatteras and Ocracoke seek to settle with, not battle, bridge builders who caused power outage (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot analysis) -- “Mistakes happen,” said Danny Couch, a Dare County commissioner and Hatteras Island Realtor. “We just want to get back to business."

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