CIB 8/17/2015: Attorney General scoffs at CPP suit

Attorney General Roy Cooper has weighed in on the side of a collaborative approach to developing a North Carolina Clean Power Plan, plus more news, this week in CIB.

Legislative Watch: Cooper Opposes Anti-CPP Lawsuit

NC Attorney General Roy Cooper last week wrote to state legislative leaders in opposition to suing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over the Clean Power Plan. A plan to sue the EPA over the Clean Power Plan (CPP) has been proposed by the McCrory Administration and endorsed by the State Senate. The State House, in contrast, has endorsed the idea (now supported by Cooper) that North Carolina should instead develop its own plan for implementation of the CPP requirements for reduction of carbon dioxide emissions.

In his letter, Cooper said, “Although this legislation poses constitutional questions, I am even more concerned that this action will risk North Carolina’s well-deserved reputation for protecting the quality of our air, recruiting businesses that produce cutting-edged technologies and offering leadership around the world on energy issues.”

Clearly referencing the House’s version of HB 571, which would direct the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to assemble a broad-based stakeholder process to develop a state plan, Cooper’s letter also said, “North Carolina’s Clean Smokestacks Act, our renewable energy standard, and other forward-thinking efforts were forged by collaboration among interested parties such as utilities, environmentalists, businesses and consumer advocates.”

Cooper’s action is also significant in part because it stakes out a clean contrast between the two front-runners for their parties’ 2016 gubernatorial nominations. It is uncertain how this policy clash between Cooper and McCrory will affect the potential for final legislative action this year, but it guarantees that energy policy will be on next year’s election agenda.

Washington Watch: Ag Department Boosts NC Solar

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced that it is sending more than $48 million to support the development of 13 more solar electric generating projects in North Carolina. This is more than three-quarters of the total $63 million in aid to solar projects nationwide announced by Agriculture last week.

That our state received such a premium share of the federal financing assistance for solar energy flowing to states at this time has to be understood as clear confirmation of the effectiveness of our existing laws in drawing new clean energy investment into our economy. This latest announcement just makes the determination by some of our state’s leaders to cut off that investment even more baffling and illogical. The Solar Energy Industries Association notes that North Carolina has more solar capacity than all other southeastern states combined, and ranks fourth in the nation. It’s one thing that our state is still doing right. We literally cannot afford to stop that progress now.

Coast Watch: Drilling Opposition Continues to Spread

The municipalities of Beaufort and Morehead City, in Carteret County, have joined the ranks of coastal communities on record in opposition to oil and gas drilling off the North Carolina coast. Last week their municipal boards unanimously adopted resolutions of opposition, modeled on a resolution passed previously by Wilmington.

According to the environmental group Oceana, 18 municipalities and counties in North Carolina have now adopted similar resolutions opposing offshore drilling or seismic testing, or both. Additional communities (including the Carteret County Board of Commissioners) are in the process of considering such resolutions.

Conservationists: Joe Kilpatrick

Joe Kilpatrick, a long-time leader with the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation who was instrumental in moving significant financial support to coastal and other citizen environmental work in our state, has passed away. His dedication to conservation was so clear that his family has asked that memorial contributions be made to the Piedmont Environmental Alliance or the NC Coastal Federation (NCCF), in lieu of flowers.

See NCCF Executive Director Todd Miller’s tribute to Kilpatrick here.

That’s our report for this week.

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