NC: Lawmaking For the Corporation, By The Corporation.

North Carolina Constitution

The current NC trends in law and legislation creation appear to focus on:

a) turning away federal money for social programs, and to make “necessary budget cuts” therein.

b) accepting federal incentives for corporate and commercial growth.

Y’all, they (as in NCGA folks– a suspicious number of which are either real estate developers and/or lawyers) are messing with our… everything.

Like water. Here, there, everywhere.  For example, in the Farm Act:

DIRECT THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES AND THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION TO JOINTLY PETITION THE WILMINGTON DISTRICT OF THE UNITED STATES ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS TO ALLOW FOR GREATER FLEXIBILITY AND OPPORTUNITY TO PERFORM STREAM AND WETLANDS MITIGATION BEYOND THE IMMEDIATE WATERSHED WHERE DEVELOPMENT WILL OCCUR.

Developer Tom wants to build some coastal property and make some fancy-mitigated wetlands, you know, over there somewhere. Cool beans. Unless you are a loggerhead turtle, and really, what do we need turtles for anyway?  

I mean North Carolina’s representatives are diligently working to write legislation based on solid environmental science.  Look at real estate broker/ State Representative Pat McElraft’s bill that specifically would NOT mandate regulatory sea-level policy based on scientific evidence of sea-level change.  Regulations that would have risked a large number of already-approved, or under-review, land use plans.

 Fishy Time Troll Herring

M’kay, developers and real estate brokers (no conflict there, snort) simply don’t believe in climate change. More importantly, they don’t believe in rescinding the millions of dollars in planned building permits over something that might happen.

Since we’re already talking about water, grab the environmental legislation and a shovel for this giant pile of inorganic fertilizer, House Bill 94.

Why exactly should everyone in this state be nervous about the folks futzing with the environmental laws? It starts at the top, with John Skvarla, Secretary of N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

John doesn’t seem to believe much in things like climate change.  Or renewable energy.

Then next, Assistant Secretary Mitch Gillespie, a long time Republican member of the house with a lot of corporate backing not known for environmentally friendly policy. 

A beach-loving state, yes.  And now also a state embracing Hydraulic Fracturing (fracking) with the same fervent enthusiasm a child has for a new puppy. But it’s okay, because certainly the newly reconstituted Mining and Energy Commission has been populated with members that are politically/industrially objective, and scientific experts.

Okay, probably not.  You don’t have to drill too far down the member list before finding the new vice chairman of the Commission is George Howard– co-founder and CEO of Restoration Systems.

“It’s good to see big-time institutional capital come into it, because we want to see the industry professionalized — not a lot of mom-and-pops,” said George Howard, co-founder and president of Raleigh, N.C.-based Restoration Systems, which banks 25,000 acres of wetlands and 60 miles of waterways in half a dozen states.”

and Howard lauded the success of other mitigation firms.  Firms that think…

“If you think about pipelines and power lines and the siting of renewable energy … mining, oil and shale gas — all have significant impacts,” he [Fred Danforth] said.

Regs, shale drilling spur business”

Restoration Systems… why does that sound familiar? Ah, right- John Skvarla was the CEO.   

You can get more government/corporation incestuous than that.

The people charged with protecting the environment are the same people that view environmentally unfriendly activities as things good for business?  This seem like a horrible idea.

But wait– there’s more!

House Bill 321, which amends Local Solid Waste Planning made me snort when I saw that they replaced actual goals and reporting practices with: “local government shall make a good‑faith effort to achieve the State’s forty percent (40%) municipal solid waste reduction goal and to comply with the State’s comprehensive solid waste management plan”

I’m a parent– this is what I think of when I see the words good-faith:  It was a total accident that I was kicking the window when it broke.

At this point I admit to hours of reading punctuated by snorts.

There was intent written into those laws on solid waste, landfills, and new brownfield mitigation rules– you can smell it.  At first I couldn’t find the relationship between the systematic deregulation and the why.

Then a friend mentions the ReVenture project in Charlotte…   Revitalization of a superfund site, cleaning up contamination, job creation, recycling– on the surface this all sounds great.

Everything to make my little hippie heart dance with glee.

Except when I turned on the hyperfocus it looks a little more like this:

How the ReVenture project shapes NC legislation

Click for a larger image

 

And after looking at what ReVenture proposes and considering the types of things being written into law? When looking at–

ReVenture happening in McCrory’s previous backyard; if the NCGA wasn’t slipping in new deregulation legislation on brownfield development [1]; and if both the brownfield development and “greenness” didn’t come with so many nice local incentives [2]; if the recycling part of ReVenture didn’t involve burning trash and trees and the NCGA wasn’t proposing amendments to air quality rules[3]; if ReVenture wasn’t right off Catawba River and the Environmental Management Commission (goodness that’s a lot of lawyers) wasn’t getting ready to amend all of the Riparian Buffer Rules for the state’s watershed [4] ; if the EMC had to follow their own rules about making rules [5];  if none of this [6]; or this [7] existed. 

[1] PART XX of House Bill 94 and Part V of House Bill 74.

[2] HOUSE BILL 1829 and GS_105-277.13.

[3] Senate Bill 171: Limit Regulation of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

[4] House Bill 94: SECTION 28.(e)  The Environmental Management Commission shall adopt rules to amend)…

[5] House Bill 94: Rules adopted pursuant to this section are not subject to G.S. 150B‑21.8 through G.S. 150B‑21.14.

[6] House Bill 94: PART XXXII.  PROVIDE THAT CERTAIN WATER TREATMENT SYSTEMS WITH EXPIRED AUTHORIZATIONS… 

[7] . . . as described in sub‑sub‑subdivision 3. of sub‑subdivision b. of subdivision (1) of this subsection. . .

I have to stop; I can’t look at this anymore.  My children are currently making their own lunch– and it sounds like it involves raisins, hummus, pomegranate juice, and cupcakes.  I think Elliot taught himself to read yesterday and I’m pretty sure that Zach just washed a load of clothes.

As amazingly self-sufficient as they have been these past few days, it cannot last much longer.  And now I feel obligated to take them to Chuck E Cheese (shudder) to demonstrate my appreciation.

I’m torn because:

1) it’s both fascinating and horrifying to see what a large group of intelligent psychopaths do all day.

2) there is an ah-mazing story arc sitting in all of this, but that would mean abandoning my other one.

 

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “NC: Lawmaking For the Corporation, By The Corporation.

  1. Pingback: The Common Thread between the Education Lottery, Teacher Pay Raise, Poverty, and Corporate Industry in the South -

  2. Hi,

    I definitely appreciate your bringing this all to the attention of folks. I can absolutely relate to your concerns, your ethos, and your hyperfocus-ness. I also generally dislike corporate culture and hate corporations in politics. I just need to let you know that you are misrepresenting the biomass generator that is being built. I actually met with that gasification system’s designer today. This process is not burning (incineration) whatsoever.

    In fact, high-temperature gasification extracts hydrocarbons from biomass with heat and not flames. The byproduct is charcoal; which can be burned as a fuel or turned into activated carbon for filtration purposes (as opposed to converting coal into activated carbon). There is no smoke, soot or pollution from the feedstock… unless dirty fuel is used to heat the system.

    This system was designed (by a humble, environment-loving, engineer/entrepreneur from a small country town outside of Charlotte) to be the most efficient gasification system on the market. Its proven to produce more product gas per cu/ft of feedstock than other studied systems and its byproduct is carbon. Some of the gas that is produced goes right back into the system’s heaters and the rest is used to generate electricity with a fuel that’s as clean as natural gas. Excess heat is used to dry the feedstock or for other uses.

    You may think its all hype but its not. Its real and it works. It works even better when municipal waste is used. You wouldn’t use the byproduct biochar for filtration, but toxins are locked inside and not leachable with water. Thus it can be used in other industrial applications such as engineered wood products.

    I’ll have to look into those other things you brought up though.

    Thanks

    • Ian, thanks for your reply.

      You’re right, calling it burning isn’t correct. I also have to admit to knowing almost nothing about biomass incinerators, or the creator of the version going to the ReVenture project. Perhaps it IS the cleanest version on the market, and perhaps it’s going to be the next best, most awesome thing in trash reduction.

      However, the sudden green-building enthusiasm from developers and lawmakers not historically known for their environmental protection when combined with the broad deregulation written into NC’s environmental law as it coincides with ReVenture and other large dollar brownfield development projects pumps my skepticism.

      To make an analogy: CFL bulbs were (are) all the rage for environmentally-friendly lighting. The reduction in energy needed for a CFL made them better for the environment than regular lightbulbs and you were a pariah in the green movement if you didn’t switch.

      But CFLs contain mercury. “Just a little bit” my friends would scoff, “the trade-off is worth a little bit of Mercury”.

      “Sure, but what about the landfill?” I’d reply.

      “But you aren’t supposed to just throw the CFLs away… they get recycled!”

      And that’s when the benefit goes to crap; because people DO throw them away and now that little bit of mercury is now many, many layers of mercury.

      “fuel that’s as clean as natural gas” Natural gas might be clean, but there is still pollution from the conversion of it to electricity. Better than coal, sure, but it’s still there.

      “It works even better when municipal waste is used. You wouldn’t use the byproduct biochar for filtration, but toxins are locked inside and not leachable with water. Thus it can be used in other industrial applications such as engineered wood products.”

      So now the toxins aren’t in my air or water, but are used to create the wood that will make the crib that I will lay my sleeping infant in at night? Over-dramatic representation, sure– but that’s what you’re saying right? That honestly doesn’t make me feel more warm and fuzzy.

      Now, here’s a thought, from the EPA website: http://www.epa.gov/wastes/hazard/wastetypes/wasteid/gas.htm

      “EPA is amending 40 CFR 261.4(a)(12)(i) by adding gasification to the list of recognized petroleum refining processes.”

      I’m supposed to be on family vacation and the long-term costs in therapy bills for my kids if I get started on reading the federal register is real.

      …But what if this thing for ReVenture, in light of NC’s move toward fracking and the federal government’s move toward using gasification in petroleum refining, has consequences that no one has ever considered?

      When you have lines such as these:

      “Electricity generated from biomass earns renewable-energy credits that help utilities meet state green-energy mandates. In 2010, N.C. legislators agreed to award ReVenture three times the normal number of credits, making it more valuable to buyers.”

      http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2012/11/29/3693658/sawdust-powered-power-plant-envisioned.html#storylink=cpy

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