Energy Bill S-3 Sends NC Backward
Utility influence & sorry process leads to damaging legislation
STATEMENT BY JIM WARREN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF NC WARN:
North Carolina has been harmed by a disreputable process that gives powerful corporations even more control over our energy and environmental future – at the worst possible time for our climate. It’s deplorable that a $10,000 per legislator investment by the power companies – and far more to their key supporters* – could lead to such an anti-consumer, anti-environment bill.
THE BILL’S CONTENT
Protections for our climate, health and economy have been gutted because the bill’s clean energy provisions are dwarfed by measures promoting dirty energy, expensive power plants, and disincentives for efficiency. An incentive allowing the corporate hog industry to continue polluting our communities and rivers with thousands of feces-and-urine “lagoons” is nothing short of shameful.
A DECEPTIVE PROCESS
The process was tainted throughout by backroom negotiations. The utilities and allies rigged the bill even before a slanted “stakeholder” process began, adding sweeteners to gain approval from various business interests. As the bill emerged in the Senate in late June, promoters falsely claimed the environmental community supported S-3, confusing legislators into inaction.
Then, as public interest attorneys began unraveling the bill’s complexities and scores of organizations began calling for sufficient time so that legislators could understand the bill,
S-3 promoters and legislative leadership increased their pressure to speed passage.
A SILVER LINING
A large statewide mobilization in recent weeks proved that citizen groups are uniting for clean energy. It’s unfortunate we weren’t given a chance to put that voice behind a renewables bill that wasn’t held hostage to massive giveaways to the power companies. It’s tragic that bill supporters were able to ride the momentum of backroom dealing and distorted information long enough to overcome attempts to ensure that lawmakers and the public could understand the bill’s ramifications.
Although the bill tied one hand behind our backs, the broad popular reform movement will continue exposing undue corporate influence, building the muscle needed to reinvigorate democratic institutions in North Carolina, and making the shift to clean, safe energy.
* See the Democracy NC report at www.ncwarn.org, and the Winston-Salem Journal’s
article, Crafting of energy bill prompts questions:
N.C. Waste Awareness & Reduction Network
Durham, NC 27715-1051