Enviros applaud Perdue vetoes

While Republicans are blasting the governor for her vetoes today, two of them are earning "three cheers" from environmental groups.

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Perdue veto stamp
Laura Leslie
Two of the bills vetoed by Gov. Perdue today, S781 Regulatory Reform and S709 Energy Jobs Act, were on the "worst bills" list of several environmental groups.  
Perdue said the vetoes were prompted by constitutional issues, not the subject matter, and expressed support for the general aims of both.  But that hasn't stopped environmental advocates from lauding her use of the veto stamp. 

State Environmental Defense Fund director Jane Preyer on S781 Regulatory Reform: 

"The veto sends a clear signal to legislators that rolling back regulations that protect the state's environment is not a viable business plan for economic recovery or the well being of North Carolina's families. Instead of cutting red tape, this bill creates mountains of new red tape that handcuff the state's environmental watchdogs. The veto sends the strong message that North Carolina puts out the welcome map to industries that both create good jobs and respect our natural resources. Hats off to Governor Perdue for the veto."

And here's Preyer on S709, Energy Jobs Act:: 

"The veto prevents a headlong rush into dirty fossil fuel sources that could dramatically change the face of North Carolina. No one wants that. The risks of offshore drilling to the coast and fracking to water supplies are well documented. Lawmakers should not repeat the mistakes made by other states. Three cheers for Governor Perdue for the veto."

Environment North Carolina praised Perdue for stopping "measures which put our coast, our air, and our water at risk." 

“Gov. Perdue stood up for the state’s beaches today,” said Elizabeth Ouzts, state director of Environment North Carolina. “Senate Bill 709 puts our treasured coast at risk of a dangerous spill. Instead of creating jobs in wind and solar power, the bill threatens jobs in coastal fishing and tourism.”

Introduced on the anniversary of the BP disaster, Senate Bill 709 requires Gov. Perdue to form a compact with the governors of Virginia and South Carolina to advocate offshore oil and gas drilling and exploration in federal waters. Revenues from coastal tourism and fishing are four times the estimated revenues from offshore oil and gas resources.

Senate Bill 709 also takes a step towards controversial horizontal onshore gas drilling in North Carolina through a study of regulations in other states where the process is legal. Horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” has contaminated water supplies, caused explosions, and increased air pollution in the communities across the country where it is prevalent. The practice is currently illegal in North Carolina, but oil and gas companies want to drill near the Deep River in Chatham, Moore, and Lee counties.

The Governor also rejected Senate Bill 781, which handcuffs the state’s ability to protect its own air and water and initiates the repeal of rules, which could include limits on toxic mercury from smokestacks. An independent analysis of public comments on this bill found that North Carolina citizens overwhelmingly support keeping or strengthening the state’s environmental safeguards, by over four to one.

Environment North Carolina, along with 32 other environmental groups, had asked the Governor to veto both measures.

“Kudos to the Governor for standing up for the state's environment," said Hartzell. "Now we call on the General Assembly to abandon these anti-environmental bills."

And the Southern Environmental Law Center weighed in quickly, too, saying the vetoes "defend North Carolina’s clean energy economy and a safe, healthy environment for residents and tourists."

“We applaud the governor’s decision to keep North Carolina’s coast open to beach balls but not tar balls,” said Derb Carter, director, Carolina Office, Southern Environmental Law Center. “Despite last year’s BP oil spill, legislators sought to risk oiling North Carolina’s coast—and its multi-billion dollar tourism and multi-million dollar fishing industries—for less than a three-months supply of oil.

“The bill also chained state energy policy to polluting fossil fuels and diverted the state from renewable energy and efficiency pursuits, but today’s veto keeps North Carolina’s innovative, clean energy economy moving forward,” said Carter.

The governor’s veto of S.781 rejects the General Assembly’s efforts to halt all environmental rulemaking.

“The first legislative session under new Republican leadership was disturbing in its assault on clean air and water protections and willingness to increase people’s health risks for the benefit of large polluters,” Carter added. “Vetoing these bills was the only responsible step the governor could take to protect clean water and clean air as requested by people across the state.”

Today’s vetoes follow her earlier veto of an unconstitutional bill passed by the General Assembly, H.482, that sought to dismiss a $101,480 fine against a county that illegally dumped sewage into streams for over three years.

The Mid- and South Atlantic coasts combined hold the equivalent of just about three months supply of oil (1.91 billion barrels) at current rates of U.S. consumption, according to the best available assessments. Despite political assertions, the Energy Information Administration projected that if the United States tripled offshore oil production, there would be no price impact at all until 2020 and only 3 cents to 5 cents a gallon in 2030.

Just hours before state senators introduced S.709 on the one-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon blowout and oil spill, the Gulf Coast Claims Facility reported that more than a half million individuals and businesses had filed claims for economic losses caused by the oil spill.

North Carolina’s beaches are among its most famous attractions for the state’s travel and tourism industry, which generated a record $17 billion from visitor spending and more than $1.5 billion in state and local tax revenues from visitor spending in 2010 according to a study by the U.S. Travel Association.

According to the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries, finfish and shellfish landings brought in $77 million in 2009.


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