The far right in the General Assembly passed so many ass-backward bills that attacked women's reproductive rights, education, tax fairness, the LGBT community, the state's already weak social safety net, and the voting rights of the poor, students, seniors and minorities, many of us missed the G.A.'s awful record on the environment. Make that "record-breakingly awful," according to the N.C. League of Conservation Voters, which just released its annual legislative report card. As reported by the Institute for Southern Studies' Facing South website, the league deems the 2013 legislative session "an unprecedented disaster for the state's environment."
How bad were the lawmakers' "grades"? In the past 13 years, the league gave a total of 48 zeroes. This year, 82 legislators were slapped with zeroes, and another 25 scored in single digits. The reasons? The General Assembly voted to speed up N.C.'s move toward fracking, did away with or seriously weakened several environmental oversight boards, and limited local control over water and air protection. In addition, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has been weakened and hamstrung by its new far-right "leader," John Skvarla, who refused to take $600K in federal money for monitoring at fracking sites, spouts nonsense about climate change being in dispute, and thinks oil may be a renewable resource (!).
For the first time, the league also scored the governor's performance. Charlotte's own Lil' Pat received a grade of F for his budget, and a D- overall, tempered by his tepid support for renewable energy resources.
As league President Maria Kingery put it in her letter accompanying the report card, "This year has been one of heartbreak in the environmental community." No joke. Hopefully N.C. voters will remember the mind-blowing destructiveness and idiocy of this legislature's moves when the next election rolls around. As Texas' Jim Hightower once wrote, "The water won't clear up 'til we get the hogs out of the creek."