This was NCLCV’s tenth annual Green Tie Awards to honor environmental champions in the state legislature and in local communities. Seven outstanding leaders and innovators received recognition for the positive impacts their work has meant for North Carolina’s economy, natural heritage and public health.
A 2009 Green Tie Catalyst Award recipient, Governor Cooper touched on his vision in his keynote for a North Carolina that provided the education, economic opportunity and clean resources so all North Carolinians could thrive. He reflected on taking walks with his father as a child as the moments he first grew to understand the importance of being a strong environmental steward. Governor Cooper carried this value into his multiple public service offices, from enacting stiffer penalties for polluters during his time in the NC General Assembly to requiring the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to install and operate basic pollution control equipment and the good neighbor provision to compel the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to enforce the Clean Air Interstate Rule as NC’s Attorney General.
The Governor also touched on the critical role of the state’s clean, renewable energy sector. Not only is the transition to clean sources of electricity better for the environment, Governor Cooper noted, but “it’s putting money back into people’s pockets.” This theme of balancing clean air, water, and land safeguards with ensuring continued economic investment and job growth came up again as Governor Cooper praised the leadership of Secretary Michael Regan, who oversees the state’s once-handcuffed Department of Environmental Quality.
“Secretary Regan knows that DEQ’s primary customers are the citizens of North Carolina,” Cooper spoke. This comes in sharp contrast to the previous McCrory administration who chose to put the interests of businesses ahead of the well-being of North Carolinians and the state’s natural resources on multiple occasions.