‘Defending Our Water’ Action: Taking It to the GOP
Saturday, Dec. 8 starting at 4:30 pm
Last month on Election Day, 86% of Asheville voters said ‘No’ to the idea of selling or leasing the Asheville water system. In fact, as AC-T op-ed writer John Miall commented after the election, “I can’t remember a time when 86% of Asheville voters agreed on anything. Talk about a mandate.”
In spite of these results, the NC legislature is sharpening knives in anticipation of carving up the water system come January. If allowed to happen, this would be an unprecedented state government action that should send fear statewide into every community.
On Saturday, December 8, the leaders of the North Carolina GOP, including Governor-elect Pat McCrory, will be gathering at the Grove Park Inn for the annual Charles Taylor Republican fundraiser.
Join us beginning at 4:30 pm as we gather in protest on the corner of Charlotte St. and Macon Ave. to raise the visibility of the water issue before the very legislators who will be voting on this matter. This is your chance to be seen and heard – as well as provide a citizen face in opposition to the taking of Asheville’s water system by legislative fiat. We will create a line of voters stretching up Macon Ave. with signs and messages relating to the water issue. We expect to conclude once the Republican fundraiser begins between 7-7:30 pm.
You are welcome to create and bring your own signs or some pre-made ones will be available. Please keep your messages strong, focused and on the high ground without mentioning specific legislators names. Let’s be the change we want to see. Some ideas include:
86% Say NO to Water Grab or Hands OFF Buncombe Water
PLEASE reach out to your personal networks and invite them to join the rally by forwarding this message to your e-mail list, Facebook friends, and neighbors. Families with children are welcome and encouraged. Numbers count!
SUGGESTIONS: chairs are welcome; bring flashlights and signs; wear reflective or light-colored clothing; water if needed.
For information, contact Teddy Jordan – 785-2644 / firstname.lastname@example.org or
Cheryl Orengo – 776-3327 / email@example.com.
After interviews with candidates, reviews of their voting records or questionnaires and other careful research, the Sierra Club has endorsed a number of candidates for local, state and national elected offices. Click here to see our endorsed candidates for State, National, and local races.
We have seen our legislature in Raleigh try to roll back 30 years of environmental progress in NC. You can help us send a message that how candidates vote on protecting our environment has consequences by voting for our endorsed candidates and volunteering to help get them elected.
Know when and where to go:
October 12: Regular deadline for voter registration
Oct. 18 – Nov. 3: Early voting & same-day registration period
November 6: General Election Day
To find your polling place for Early Voting: http://www.app.sboe.state.nc.us/webapps/OS_sites
To find your polling place on Election Day: http://www.ncsbe.gov/PrecinctFinder.aspx
Want to support our political work and help elect these Sierra Club endorsed candidates?
Here are two easy things you can do:
. Make a donation to the NC Sierra Club PAC (only members can donate to the PAC).
. Volunteer to help elect candidates committed to protecting the environment.
One Win for the Forests
The environment and its allies have not had many victories recently, but there was a big one recently when the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit upheld the “road less rule” — a Clinton administration regulation barring new road-building on 50 million acres of the national forests. The timber industry, off-road vehicle users and other commercial and political interests have long battled the rule, which will establish essential protections for the forests and the clean water, wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities they provide.
The 10th Circuit is the second appellate court to uphold the rule, and chances are slim that the Supreme Court would take up the issue. But House Republicans will almost certainly keep trying to undermine the rule as part their attack on environmental laws that have long protected millions of acres of sensitive forests, deserts, cultural areas and wildlife refuges. One ridiculous bill would give the Department of Homeland Security power to override dozens of protections on federal lands within 100 miles of American borders to help fight illegal immigration. Another — with more traction — would eviscerate the president’s authority to designate national monuments, a power used to good effect by most presidents since Theodore Roosevelt.
Another, introduced months ago by Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, would overturn the road less rule. Former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt has called the McCarthy bill, which contains other anti-wilderness provisions, “the most radical, overreaching attempt to dismantle the architecture of our public lands laws that has been proposed in my lifetime.”
Contact Congressman Heath Shuler, Senator Kay Hagan, and Senator Richard Burr and ask them to oppose any efforts to weaken wilderness protections.
Asheville City Council Endorsements:
After reviewing voting records, questionnaire responses and interviewing the candidates, the Sierra Club is excited to endorse Marc Hunt, Lael Gray, and Chris Pelly for Asheville City Council. We have a great chance to elect 3 good environmentalists to city council and continue the trend of making Asheville the Greenest City in the South East. We need your help to get them elected: If you live in Asheville, please vote in the Primary: Oct 11 and general election on Nov 8.. You can also help our candidates by attending a fundraiser on Thursday, Oct. 6 from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. We will be hosting a fundraiser at 35 Finalee Ave., in Asheville. Please come! If you can’t attend, but would like to make a contribution, make your check payable to NC Sierra Club PAC and send it to 15 Morning Star Dr., Leicester, NC 28748.
2011 Session of the General Assembly: Environmental Wrap-up
Tying the Hands of Our Future
The 2011 session of the General Assembly recently concluded, ending the harshest session for the environment in two decades.
The session was dominated by a focused effort to defund, dismantle, and deregulate the state’s environmental agency; a barrage of attacks on existing environmental protections; and misguided choices and missed opportunities regarding our state’s energy future.
Here are a few key themes and illustrations:
DENR: Defunded, Dismantled and Handcuffed
· Defunded: The final version of the budget cut DENR’s recurring budget by 12% in FY11-12 and 22% in FY12-13, not including funds lost when programs are transferred to other departments. The budget also cut the Clean Water Management Trust Fund by 88.5% and the Wildlife Resources Commission’s recurring budget by 25%. Defunding DENR will result in poorer enforcement and less ability to help businesses with permitting processes.
· Dismantled: The budget transferred both the Division of Forest Resources and the Division of Soil and Water Conservation from the state natural resources agency to the state Department of Agriculture. Transferring these divisions from a department focused on conservation (DENR) to a department focused on production (Agriculture) represents a significant policy shift in the state’s management of our natural resources
· Handcuffed: The legislature passed several measures designed to effectively end environmental rule-making. These included a temporary moratorium (S22), policy riders in the budget handcuffing the state from exceeding federal minimums, and finally, the “Regulatory Reform Act of 2011” (S781). Ironically, in its efforts to streamline environmental rules, S781 instead creates a costly new bureaucracy and additional red tape. In passing S781, the General Assembly largely ignored the results of the 6 public hearings the Regulatory Reform Committee held across the state as well as the written public comments. In those comments North Carolina’s citizens expressed overwhelming support for keeping or strengthening the state’s environmental safeguards by over a four to one margin (885 to 201). S781 has been vetoed by Governor Perdue. The legislature will attempt to over ride her veto when they are back in session later this summer.
Overturning Years of Progress: Rolling Back Existing Environmental Protections
· Keeping our beaches public and available to the public: Perhaps the worst damage done by the legislature to our natural resources was the overturning of North Carolina’s landmark policy on hardened beaches which has kept our state’s beaches natural and available to the public. S110, Permit Terminal Groins allows the construction of up to four terminal groins to bail out private property at the expense of the public’s beaches.
ENERGY: Misguided Choices and Missed Opportunities
· Misguided Choices: One year after the historic oil spill in the Gulf, the legislature’s primary energy bill this session was a measure to promote offshore drilling. In S709, Energy Jobs Act, the legislature directed the Governor to enter a compact with Virginia and South Carolina to push for offshore drilling without any analysis of the potential risks to North Carolina’s fishing industry, tourist industry, or beaches. S709 also retools the state’s Energy Policy Council into an energy development panel made up primarily of representatives from fossil fuel industries. However S709 has been vetoed by Governor Perdue. The legislature will attempt to over ride her veto when they are back in session later this summer.
There is currently a federal ban on offshore drilling on the East Coast until 2017 and the US Congress has repeatedly declined to make revenue sharing available to states along the Atlantic coast. As a result, S709 appears to offer little or no potential for economic development any time soon. S709 also converts the state’s Energy Policy Council into an energy development panel. The bill removes the positions on the council for experts in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and environmental protection, and in return creates three different seats for representatives from oil and gas industries.
Missed Opportunities: While focusing on offshore drilling, the legislature failed to take action on a host of measures to expand North Carolina’s green energy sector.o -Offshore Wind: S747 the “Offshore Wind Jobs and Economic Development” bill received national attention when it was filed in April. Forbes called it an “impressive” bill and the Offshore Wind Wire called it “the most ambitious legislative offshore wind proposal in the U.S. to date.” Despite the national attention, the measure was never heard in the committee, although it was estimated that the bill could have brought an estimated 10,000 construction jobs and 2,000 long-term operations and maintenance jobs to the state. Instead of choosing to invest in our future and capitalize on North Carolina’s ability to lead the country in offshore wind and create jobs at the same time, legislators focused on non-renewable energy.
-Solar: Legislators also chose not to take up HB 495/SB 473, the Solar Jobs Bill. This bill would have created an estimated 6,000 new jobs in North Carolina by 2015 and 14,000 new jobs by 2020, according to the NC Sustainable Energy Association.
Good News for NC
Governor Perdue vetoed both S709 (offshore drilling bill) and S781 (regulatory reform bill)! Thank you to everyone who contacted her asking her for these vetoes. We were told by the Governor’s office that they received more requests for vetoes of these two bills than any other bills!
And the good news doesn’t end there! In addition to vetoing the two bills, the Governor also issued Executive Order 96 which establishes the North Carolina Offshore Wind Economic Development Task Force! This is a HUGE victory in our efforts to bring offshore wind to North Carolina. Please take a minute and email the Governor thanking her for her support of the environment.
Good Bills that passed:
- Water Resources Act, H609 (sponsored by Rep. Chuck McGrady). Requires development of water supply plans, among other things.
- Property Tax Uniformity for Conserved Land, H350 (sponsored by Chuck McGrady). Truly conserved land is relieved of property taxes.
- S708 (Building Code Rules/Effective Dates) which codifies the energy efficiency gains adopted by the Building Code Council last December. This will result in building code rules that increase energy efficiency requirements for new commercial buildings by 30% and residential by 15%.