North Carolina Environmental Youth Need Your Help to Win $50,000 Pepsi Refresh Grant

NC students at Power Shift 2011

For the month of July, Southern Energy Networkis hoping to be a part of the “Pepsi Refresh Everything”competition. We are applying to win $50,000 to support young people building a clean energy future for North Carolina communities! After we find out if we’re accepted into the competition on July 1, we’re going to need your help to win.

In order to win the $50,000, we need as many individuals as possible to commit to voting for us every single day for the month of July! If we can stay in the top 10 with the most votes, we will win. Sign-up here to become a Daily Voter today!

The $50,000 will go a long way in supporting the work that we do. With that money, we will be able to:

  • Hire a full-time North Carolina state organizer
  • Support the amazing work of the NC Student Energy Network, a new state network formed at Power Shift 2011
  • Host the 7th Annual Southeast Student Renewable Energy Conference in Asheville, NC

Help us support the youth climate movement in North Carolina by signing up as a Daily Voter! You can also help us spread the word by posting on Facebook and Twitter, and asking your friends to become Daily Voters as well.


NC budget takes aim at our state’s environmental rules and protections

The current version of the NC budget takes a huge toll on our state’s environment.

NC Gov. Bev Perdue

The AP has a great story putting these cuts in context.

RALEIGH, N.C. — A final Republican-penned state budget likely heading to North Carolina Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue’s desk takes aim at environmental regulations and funds designed to protect land and water, expand parks and track mountainsides to help avoid development in the path of potential landslides.

The state Senate voted 31-19 on a party-line vote Thursday to give its final approval to a $19.7 billion spending plan that would reduce spending in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources by more than 12 percent, cutting the agency’s overall work force by about 160 positions. About 5 percent of the current work force would be eliminated.

Money to help local governments and conservation groups protect water quality would be slashed by tens of millions of dollars. The bill also would stop the state department from setting rules that are more stringent than minimum rules by the federal government on things like water and air quality unless expressly directed in future legislation. Similar restrictions were in place in North Carolina during the 1970s and `80s but repealed by the 1990s.

“This budget is bad news for North Carolina’s environment,” said Margaret Hartzell, a lobbyist for the group Environment North Carolina.

The News & Observer also had an excellent editorial against the policy rider that Republicans are pushing that will prohibit NC from setting rules that are more stringent than minimum rules by the federal government on things like water and air quality.

Our coast, our mountains

Montana doesn’t have barrier islands. Neither does Nebraska. Might not environmental regulation specific to a state that does, formulated by leaders in North Carolina, be both the logical and good course? Protecting coastal wetlands is no easy matter, and requires up-close inspection and analysis. That’s never truer in a state that has seen 40 years of booming growth along its coast.

The state’s mountain region, the site of much resort development, also has specific needs when it comes to environmental regulation (tree-harvesting, for one example).

And what if the state faces a pollution threat because of, for example, the overflowing of hog waste lagoons? Shouldn’t lawmakers be able to act to address those specific concerns?

Those who defend the move to hamstring regulators say there are ways the state could act if need be. But proponents of what might be called the “new Hardison Amendments” also want any new regulations to pass a litmus test called a cost-benefit analysis, which is another way of saying, “If it costs too much, then benefit, smenefit.”

How curious it is that Republicans, who often attack the federal government as meddlesome and bloated, want North Carolina to bow on bended knee to federal regulations as all-knowing and all-seeing. We thought the GOP was the party of states’ rights versus the big, bad feds.

And yet through these types of efforts in the legislature, North Carolina’s political leaders will in effect be slapping the state in handcuffs. This is shortsighted, illogical lawmaking based on a “business-friendly” philosophy for a state that is about as business-friendly as it gets.

Want to take action on these issues?
Sign the NC Sierra Club’s petition and let your state legislators know that your state deserves better than this.
Better yet, call Gov. Bev Perdue’s office ( 919.733.4240 ) and demand a veto unless the General Assembly restores funding to adequately protect NC’s environment. If we don’t stand strong now, it will take years to repair the damage that this budget will cause.

NC legislature eager to allow “fracking”

Despite hundreds of calls from students and young people across North Carolina demanding a clean energy future, the N.C. Senate still passed Senate Bill 709, the Energy Jobs Act, by a vote of 38-12.

The bill poses a number of problems for our state’s environment. One of the worst issues is that it puts the state on a track towards legalizing “fracking,” or hydraulic fracturing, as a method of extraction in order to access the state’s untapped natural gas reserves. Geologists are estimating that “Lee, Chatham and Moore counties could produce enough natural gas from shale to make North Carolina self-sufficient for 40 years at current levels of consumption.”

Source: North Carolina Geological Survey; N.C. Counties Map © INDOS82

As The Independent Weekly’s Lisa Sorg writes in her excellent in-depth article about why pursuing fracking is a mistake, SB 709 has a number of central functions that will negatively impact North Carolina’s direction on energy issues, rolling back decades of good environmental policy in our state.

  • Renames the Energy Policy Council as the Energy Jobs Council and reconfigures its membership to include nearly all utilities and oil and gas industry representatives.
  • Directs the governor to vigorously pursue off-shore drilling by forming compacts with neighboring states and petitioning the federal government to open areas of the Atlantic Ocean, including North Carolina’s offshore waters, to oil and gas exploration and drilling.
  • Directs DENR to review existing state laws regarding fracking, analyze other states’ fracking regulations, recommend amendments to North Carolina laws that could allow fracking, study its environmental impacts and develop proposed regulatory framework for the practice.

Bev, A New Compact & Oil…Still.

The word “offshore energy” in the title of this article may get your hopes up …finally, the potential for wind energy off the coasts of NC is being realized! Nevertheless, this article actually turns out to be about how the discussion of drilling for oil off of NC’s coast has returned to the table.  According to Forbes journalist Gary D. Robertson,

While it couldn’t come quickly, the offshore energy sector could create more than 6,700 jobs and $484 million in state and local revenues annually through 2030 if the state received the same royalty share that Gulf states receive, according to a 2009 report from the Southeast Energy Alliance, comprised of businesses, trade associations and nonprofits.

What this article and the bill that could come into effect based upon NC governor Bev Purdue’s decision neglects to mention is the cost of said offshore energy sector. What about when the oil runs out? Sure, implementing a system of offshore wind energy wouldn’t come quickly either, but jobs would be created too. Plus, no anxiety about a possible oil rig explosion similar to that in the Gulf Coast last year would even pervade the minds of North Carolina citizens.  However, only time will tell us how our government will pursue this bill, or hopefully, not.

Watch Power Shift Keynote Speakers LIVE!

For those who couldn’t make it to D.C. for Power Shift, here’s some good news! Power Shift 2011 is streaming the keynote speakers (Al Gore and Van Jones) LIVE on-line TONIGHT at 7:00PM. Maybe you’ll see some fellow North Carolinians on camera!

Link to Live Stream:

Some Good News from the General Assembly

Back on Track!

Multiple sources are now reporting that the Republicans in the North Carolina House will abandon H422, the bill that would have prevented the state from accepting $461 million in federal money for high-speed rail.

You can read the story from The News & Observer here:

A Republican push to reject $461 million in federal railroad improvement grants for North Carolina appears to have collapsed.

Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger said Saturday that he didn’t think the project could be stopped. Berger’s statement came a day after Sen. Bob Rucho, a Republican from Matthews, said GOP leaders have agreed they should accept the money.

The bill to kill high-speed rail sponsored by Rep. Ric Killian of Charlotte was pulled Friday from the agenda of the House Transportation Committee, which had been scheduled to vote on the measure this week. Killian’s bill was attacked in a committee meeting last week by Democrats, business advocates and big-city mayors.

Thank you to everyone who contacted their representative about this bill.  Your voices made a difference!

Exciting News for Urban Farming

Check out this article on the impressive results of Non Industrial Manufacturing Inc. (NIM)’s research of their vertical growing technology, which would allow commercial farming in an urban environment:

“According to the National Sustainable Agricultural Information Service, the average crop of leaf lettuce from a typical acre of land is approximately 193,000 plants per year (2 crop cycles). In one acre of warehouse space, NIM’s indoor vertical growing technology is capable of producing more than 11 million plants, which is almost 60 times more efficient.”