NCLCV’s Third Annual Green Tie Awards Dinner on May 20, 2009 honored seven elected officials for their consistent leadership and support for sound environmental policies that protect the health of our communities and our state’s natural resources.
North Carolina’s new Secretary of Commerce, J. Keith Crisco, was our featured speaker for a particularly timely conversation highlighting NC’s leadership in developing a new green economy.
Nina Szlosberg, board president for NCLCV, pointed out that, “At the Legislature, it was a short time ago very few people talked about the need to protect the environment and public health. Business interests and environmental interests were on opposite sides of the room. Now CEOs who are looking to relocate a business or start and grow a business are demanding that states invest in environmental protection. Tonight we are here to honor a few among the growing number of environmentally conscious legislators in the General Assembly.”
Rob Christensen, reporter at the News and Observer, provided some amusing insights and perspectives on North Carolina’s political landscape. Over 150 members, business leaders, and environmentalists were there to honor these decision-makers.
Representative Angela Bryant of Nash and Halifax Counties was named a Rising Star to acknowledge her as an emerging leader in the General Assembly with a bright Rep. Bryant is a Rising Starfuture ahead. Bryant has been hard at work as the chair of the energy and energy efficiency committee. She is also supporting legislation to ban North Carolina from using coal from mountain top removal sites and to phase out hog lagoons and sprayfields.
Representative Bryant is not afraid to take risks in order to protect the environment; we could use more leaders like her in the General Assembly.
Representative Ruth Samuelson of Mecklenburg County was also named a Rising Star to acknowledge her professional and personal commitment to environmental initiatives. In her brief time in the General Assembly, Samuelson was the primary sponsor of School Bus retrofits in non-attainment areas, which provided funding for cleaner diesel for school buses. She also sponsored legislation that gives income tax credits for energy efficient homes. Rep. Samuelson is committed to making sound environmental choices in her own life, as well as in the decisions she’s making at the General Assembly.
Representative Samuelson not only talks the talk, but she walks in the walk.
Representative Cullie Tarleton of Ashe and Watauga Counties was also named a Rising Star because he understands our issues well and speaks eloquently to them in the halls of the General Assembly. As chair of the water resources committee this session, he is a champion of water resources conservation, as well as working hard to make Grandfather Mountain a state park.
Representative Tarleton is intelligent and articulate on issues that matter to NCLCV.
Representative Jennifer Weiss of Wake County was honored as Representative of the Year to acknowledge her die-hard support of environmental issues since first coming to the House of Representatives in 1999.
Weiss has been hard at work banning smoking in public places. She has co-sponsored legislation to ban North Carolina from using coal from mountain top removal sites and a bill to require North Carolina to buy fuel-efficient cars for its motor fleet. In addition, she is also working on legislation to increase public safety from coal ash and on continuing a moratorium on cement plants in fragile ecological environments.
Representative Weiss understands the important role of conservation issues and stands up for them. Not only that, she campaigns on them; showing us North Carolina can be a great place to live, work, and do business while protecting our environment.
Senator Ellie Kinnaird of Orange and Person Counties was named Senator of the Year to acknowledge her continuous commitment to fight for what is right for the environment. Kinnaird has been hard at work this Session extending the climate change commission and banning North Carolina from using coal from mountain top removal sites. She supports a bill to require North Carolina to buy fuel-efficient cars for its motor fleet and a bill to put a moratorium on coal fired power plants.
Senator Kinnaird not only wants to know where environmentalists stand on issues before the Senate, she seeks them out to make sure they are supportive on bills before her in committee. Because of her environmental advocates have a voice in the Senate at all times in the process.
Representative Paul Luebke of Durham County was named Defender of the Environment to acknowledge his tireless commitment to defend the environment every turn.
Representative Luebke has been hard at work banning smoking in public places, banning coal from mountain top removal sites, placing a moratorium on coal fired power plants in North Carolina, recycling plastic bags, and increasing awareness of the complications associated with coal ash.
In the General Assembly, Representative Luebke has been a constant voice, sometimes in the wilderness, sometimes leading the charge, for decency and fairness. His questions are tough and poignant on protecting our resources, and the conviction in his floor speeches is unmatched. With an impeccable scorecard record in the past, there is no question that Representative Luebke is committed to always making sound environmental choices.
Attorney General Roy Cooper was honored with the Catalyst Award because he has brought environmental considerations to bear at numerous levels of North Carolina’s government decision-making. The Catalyst Award recognizes former legislator or government/policy official who has continued work that positively influences the environment.
The Attorney General’s two big cases are in the air arena: the public nuisance suit against TVA in which NC got an injunction requiring TVA to install and operate basic pollution control equipment; and the good neighbor provision to compel EPA to enforce the Clean Air Interstate Rule. Both address upwind states and pollution from power plants damaging Western North Carolina. The Attorney General has continued the Smithfield Agreement to find ways to reduce the air and water pollution from hog operations. The Attorney General has long been an advocate of “polluter pays” through stiffer enforcement penalties.
While in the Senate, Cooper was strong on environmental issues, and this mentality has carried over to the Attorney General’s office. Roy Cooper has a long history and strong commitment to serving the public and protecting environmental quality.