BY DEBRA REZELI The North Carolina General Assembly saw a lot of environmental action this year—and little of it good. The decisions made this session will have a long-time impact on the health of our families and our communities.
Each year, the NC League of Conservation Voters gives each state legislator a score of 0 to 100 based on his or her votes on key environmental bills. The scorecard empowers voters to evaluate which legislators best represent their environmental values. Since 1999, the NC League of Conservation Voters had awarded a combined total of 48 scores of zero on its annual scorecards. The recently released 2013 Legislative Scorecard reveals a record 82 legislators with a score of zero. That’s nearly half the entire NC General Assembly.
This year’s publication includes NCLCV’s first gubernatorial review. Since the Governor does not vote on specific legislation, his grades are based on what bills he has signed into law, what he speaks about in public, and other executive actions he has taken. With an overall score of D-, Governor McCrory has lots of room for improvement.
Historically, North Carolina’s responsible approach to environmental policy-making has both protected our natural resources and kept North Carolina at the top of “best places to do business” and “quality of life” rankings. In 2013, numerous bills sought to weaken or remove crucial pollution control rules.
Proposed legislation which could put our communities at harm includes: a rush to frack; limits on local control over air and water protections; delays for pollution control protections of Jordan Lake water supply; and costly requirements for periodic review of existing regulations. In addition, critical oversight commissions and boards have been dissolved or restructured in unprecedented ways, allowing the current administration to remove the experienced and effective members from those boards.
“North Carolina has a proud history of making balanced decisions and respecting that clean air, clean water, and beautiful landscapes are precious resources that serve a vital role in attracting people and businesses to our great state,” said Maria Kingery, board president of NCLCV. “North Carolina has been a leader in smart environmental policy in the southeast for years, and we can be again with strong leadership from our elected officials.”
We all have a role in educating our elected officials. Voting for and communicating with the leaders who respect our environmental values are two of the most important things we can do to protect the environment. Please take the time to review the NCLCV’s scorecard to see where your representatives stand on environmental issues. Then call, write letters, and stop by your legislators’ offices to share your thoughts on their actions. Whether you are pleased or disappointed by your local officials, they need to hear your voice so that future votes will be made with conservation issues in mind.
The complete 2013 Legislative Scorecard, as well as previous years, can be viewed online at: http://nclcv.org/scorecard.
Debra Rezeli, Director of Engagement for NC League of conservation Voters, has been an unintentional environmentalist her entire life. Growing up on a farm in rural eastern North Carolina, she saw firsthand the direct correlation of the land with the people. Debra is now an avid paddler, backpacker, and world traveler. She has a liberal arts degree from Peace College, a graphic design degree from NC State’s College of Design, and most recently, an MBA in marketing at NC State.