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Don't North Carolina Us! Yes. It's a Verb.

Author and radio talk show host Andy Schmookler has called for liberals to come alive in 2014 and gain seats in the US House, while holding onto the US Senate. His message could not be more important or timely. Congressional elections are not far away. Blue Virginians may have gained the top three executive positions and the Virginia Senate, but there is so much more to do. If anyone needs a reminder, Virginia's neighbor to the south provides a cautionary tale to never, ever give up.

What's at stake is basically everything progressives hold dear. The stranglehold by the corporate elite on environmental protection is irrevocably damaging the United States. The Koch-Peter Peterson-Art Pope anti-environmental (indeed, anti-human) wrecking crew has succeeded at dismantling environmental protection in state after state. And the evidence is stunning: In the course of less than two weeks North Carolina has shown what happens when right-wing politicians West Virginia-ize a once progressive state.

North Carolina's state constitution enshrines citizens right to clean water and clean air and the state's responsibility to protect them. Fat chance:

  • First, 3.5 million gallons of City of Burlinton sewage poured into the Haw river, which funnels into Jordan Lake, the drinking water source for Cary, Apex and Pittsboro. And yet no one among the public knew for days. DENR enabled Burlington to keep the whole thing quiet.
  • Then, barely a week later, the drinking water in Danville Virginia was seriously compromised by a Duke Energy NC potash dump site. Again, news was slow to make its way to the public. Regulatory negligence abounds. Amazingly, Phil Berger, hard-line conservative state senate leader and now candidate for Congress, called for an investigation. This, after he and his cronies (along with "Governor Duke Energy" – he worked for 20 years at Duke Power) gutted environmental protection in NC. They then blamed everything happening on their watch on former Governor Perdue (and every other Democratic ex-governor). There is near-zero state environmental oversight with the current regime. This cannot be blamed on any previous administration. Duke Energy now says it will clean up the spill. But without regulations and oversight, it is difficult to know with any confidence if the company will do a thorough job on their own.  
  • Just this weekend a PCB spill has contaminated the drinking water int he city of Charlotte, NC.
  • Last Thursday another spill dirtied Charlotte's drinking water.

If that is not bad enough, Jordan Lake is also imperiled by an untested approach to "clean up" the lake after the GOP gutted the Jordan Lake rules, thus giving developers and municipalities upstream almost no responsibility for effluent. The plan is to install 36 "circulators" or fan-like devices to reduce algae growth. It's a two-year experiment at two small inlets of the lake. Eventually there will be around 140 of these devices on the lake. Despite zero evidence the idea will work, it was approved this past week over Democrats' objections. Take a look at this photo and see what you think. Note that lake cleanup was necessary before the recent spill.

Worse still, horizontal fracking will begin in a year or so, destroying the water table near the southern portion of the Cumnock formation. It is not a possibility but a near certainty that the aquifer will be contaminated because the shale, the deposits of which are more shallow than in other major shale formations nationwide, actually pierces the aquifer. Methane and other contaminants will flow directly into the aquifer. It is a disastrous situation for the people of North Carolina, but the environmental destructicons at the statehouse persist.

Finally, global warming deniers are positioning America to suffer under one disaster after another. In NC state scientists cannot even use the words 'global warming'! They are forbidden from studying rising tides.

The GOP has a plan, though.  That plan is disaster capitalism. When increasingly ferocious storms hit, they'll swoop in and privatize everything they can get their hands on and then hold flood and storm victims hostage. They'll squander disaster funds on those not even inured by storms (as in New Jersey), favoring instead new developments. No matter what federal prosecutors find, we already know Chris Christie is another lesson in why to never entrust a Republican with the public purse, global warming remediation, or disaster planning. Disasters are no time for economic bullying and scientific nihilism. 

It is a sad state of affairs that neither party is worth a damn regarding protections from fracking. But there is a huge difference on other environmental issues. And it is past time to make the sharp contrasts with regards to personal safety under Republicans versus Democrats. There simply is no comparison. 

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