Rolling back environmental regulations and wrecking the state's clean-energy economy: These were the two big themes of the 2015 General Assembly session, according to the N.C. League of Conservation Voters, which released its legislative scorecard this week. The results were ... disheartening, to say the least.
Then again, what did we expect?
To recap, state lawmakers voted to let the Renewable Energy Tax Credits expire. And then Gov. Pat McCrory signed House Bill 765, which essentially lets air and water polluters off the hook, scales back protections for wetlands and streams and shuts down half of all the state's air quality monitors. Throw in an (ultimately unsuccessful) attack on Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards, a plan to not comply with the federal Clean Power Plan, budget and staffing cuts to the Department of Environmental Quality and a sweetheart coal-ash deal with Duke Energy, and you've got a recipe for environmental devastation.
As it does every year, the League looked at the environmental voting records of each state senator and representative. Only four of 16 state lawmakers from Wake County (Reps. Rosa Gill and Grier Martin and Sens. Dan Blue and Josh Stein) got a perfect score. Three lawmakers—Reps. Marilyn Avila, Chris Malone and Gary Pendleton—scored a big, fat goose egg.
This was a trend: Republicans got low scores, while Democrats fared better. Since there are quite a few more Republicans than Democrats at the state level, well, you do the math.
There's some good news, though, at least for the western part of the Triangle. In Durham, none of the county's six state lawmakers dipped below 70 on the 0–100 scale. And in Orange County, Rep. Verla Insko and Sen. Valerie Foushee scored 100, and Rep. Graig Meyer got 90.
And there's a potential upside for Wake residents, too. Due to another legislative maneuver, the state's primary elections will be held in March this year, so you'll have your first chance to vote these people out of office in three short months.
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This article appeared in print with the headline "Welcome to Raleigh, Mr. Trump"