Afraid to shed light on their dastardly deeds, state House leaders passed a dirty deal for Duke Energy in a midnight session late last week. It was written behind closed doors, so why not pass it under cover of darkness too?
Environmental, climate, and ratepayer advocacy groups all oppose House Bill 951, as do a lot of major manufacturing businesses. At its heart, the bill mandates a large and lasting increase of power generation through natural gas, even though renewable sources are cheaper and becoming more so over time.
No environmental or consumer groups were at the bargaining table when the bill was developed in secret over several months earlier this year. And even after the initial draft was unveiled, no more were invited to the party, and thus almost nothing changed when the bill was suddenly rushed through the committee process and to the House floor in a matter of two days last week.
“I don’t know how you can write or negotiate decadal changes to energy policy without having an environmental stakeholder in the room. The bill that they came out with has been a sweetheart deal for Duke that would likely allow them to make more money than they already make,” said Dan Crawford, our Director of Governmental Affairs.
During debate on the floor, the bill was made even worse by even further restricting climate progress. Just days after the state Environmental Management Commission voted to begin the process of joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative as a means of efficiently cutting power-sector carbon emissions, legislators voted to prohibit that action with a late amendment to H951 that passed by a party-line 61-47 vote. The anti-environment legislative leadership always finds an opportunity to take power away from Gov. Roy Cooper and the executive branch.
After Rep. Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford) objected to a required final vote on the bill, Speaker Tim Moore announced a special session to begin at 12:01 a.m., technically satisfying a rule that requires votes on separate calendar days. After keeping legislators waiting four hours, the bill quickly passed 57-49.
H951 now moves to the Senate. Tell your senator to stop Duke from profiting at your expense!
Gov. Cooper has already warned that the bill falls short of the carbon reductions outlined in his Clean Energy Plan, and has all but promised a veto on several occasions. “The House Republican energy legislation as currently written weakens the Utilities Commission’s ability to prevent unfair, higher electricity rates on consumers in the short run. And in the long run, this bill falls short on clean energy, which will create jobs and contain costs,” declared Cooper in a rare statement issued before a bill receives any legislative action. If the votes fall along the same lines, his veto would be sustained.