The past couple of years have been rough on the environment in North Carolina. There was the Dan River coal ash spill last winter, the fast-tracking of fracking this summer, the rollback on pollution control and regulatory measures and the ongoing removal of knowledgeable scientists and experts from the state’s environmental oversight boards.
And then, there’s the blatant disregard for the environment on display by the majority of the members of the Republican-controlled General Assembly.
The North Carolina League of Conservation Voters released its 2014 legislative scorecard
this week, and the environmentalist group says the voting scores of North Carolina lawmakers on environmental issues “hit a disturbing new low.” For example, the average score earned by Senate Republicans on key environmental bills and amendments prioritized by the NCLCV during the 2014 session was zero.
“Under new legislative leadership which began in 2011, partisan polarization on environmental issues has reached an all-time low,” the group states in a press release. “The past two scorecard publications revealed record numbers of zeros.”
The Conservation Scorecard gives each state lawmaker a score of 0 to 100 based on their vote on key environmental issues during each legislative session. Prior to 2012, the NCLCV had given only four zeros to lawmakers. That year, lawmakers earned 44 zeros, and they earned 82 zeros in 2013. For 2014, the NCLCV awarded 70 zero scores.
The NCLCV also assessd Governor McCrory’s performance halfway into his term, based on the bills he has signed into law, what he has said publicly and other executive actions he has taken.
“Governor McCrory’s leadership during this session follows a first year of poor environmental stewardship,” the NCLCV states. “Under his reign, North Carolina experienced the third largest coal ash spill in history, fracking was signed into law, a controversial weak coal ash bill was allowed to pass and numerous environmental and health protections were rolled back.”
However, 12 lawmakers—9 Representatives and 3 Senators, all Democrats—scored 100 for the 2014 session.
“North Carolina has a history of making balanced decisions for the environment and economy, which has made it a great place to live, work and raise a family,” said director of government relations for NCLCV Dan Crawford. “We need leaders who will speak out for the citizens of North Carolina instead of fostering the interests of big business and major polluters.”