Conservation Insider Bulletin, Oct. 9

Conservation Insider Bulletin
Published weekly for the Conservation Council of North Carolina
Conservation News to Peruse & Use
Editor: Dan Besse, cib@conservationcouncilnc.org

October 9, 2009
There were mixed greens & browns in the Raleigh races this week, while in one upcoming Senate race green becomes stylish, this week in CIB:

--Campaign Watch: Raleigh Results; Senate Energy Action

--Global Warming Update: Chamber Bleeding High-Profile Membership Over Climate Obstructionism

--Washington Watch: EPA Finalizes Greenhouse Reporting Rule

--Conservationists: Remembering Margaret Pollard and Margie Ellison

Campaign Watch: Raleigh Results; Energy Steps Up as Issue in Dem Senate Race

Raleigh Results: The balance of power on the Raleigh City Council underwent an apparent shift as former council member John Odom re-took a seat over District B Councilor Rodger Koopman, an ally of strong land use planning. This is viewed as likely to end a previous Council majority for Mayor Charles Meeker's policies such as higher impact fees on development. However, other environmental allies such as Meeker himself, At-Large Councilor Russ Stephenson, and District D Councilor Thomas Crowder succeeded in retaining their seats. Local observers speculated that the heated Wake County school board races attracted many conservative voters in the North Raleigh contest which overlapped with Koopman's district, affecting that outcome.

Energy Steps Up as Issue in Dem Senate Race: So far, two North Carolina Democrats have declared their candidacies for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Richard Burr, and at least one other is nearing a decision on whether to run. Interestingly, it is the still-maybe candidate, former State Sen. Cal Cunningham, who has jumped into the debate with the greatest enthusiasm for action on clean energy / climate change legislation recently introduced in the U.S. Senate.

Cunningham traveled to Washington last week to attend the unveiling of the Barbara Boxer / John Kerry legislation on clean energy and climate change. He (along with N.C. House environmental leader Pricey Harrison, D-Guilford) is a cheerleader for that proposal.

When asked, Chapel Hill attorney Ken Lewis said he supported such legislation, and N.C. Secretary of State Elaine Marshall indicated that she was studying it. Lewis and Marshall are the two declared Democratic candidates thus far.

Global Warming Update: Chamber Bleeding High-Profile Membership Over Climate Obstructionism

Here's an encouraging twist on the ongoing, intense national debate over climate change policy. Several high-profile business organizations have dropped their memberships in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in protest over the Chamber's obstructionism on this issue. In contrast to many other business organizations, the U.S. Chamber has uncompromisingly fought against efforts in Congress to require reductions in U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases.

As a result, two large electric utilities dropped their memberships in late September, and this week it was electronics leader Apple, Inc. In a letter to the Chamber president, Apple vice president Catherine Novelli said, "Apple supports regulating greenhouse gas emissions, and it is frustrating to find the Chamber at odds with us in this effort." (Washington Post, 10/5/09.)

The Chamber president, Thomas J. Donohue, is receiving criticism for what some perceive as a conflict of interest between his duties to that group and his membership on the board of directors for Union Pacific Railroad. Union Pacific opposes climate action legislation, as an estimated 20% of its business comes from shipping coal. Donohue has agreed to Union Pacific's policy for its board members, which calls for them to back Union Pacific's interests in other contexts. There have been calls for him to resolve the conflict by resigning one position or the other. Thus far, he has refused. (National Public Radio, 9/28/09.)

Washington Watch: EPA Finalizes Greenhouse Reporting Rule

As expected, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in late September issued its final Mandatory Reporting of Greenhouse Gases Rule. The rule will require approximately 10,000 industrial facilities to monitor and report their greenhouse gas emissions. The first reports are due on March 31, 2011 for calendar year 2010 emissions. Monitoring and recordkeeping activities must begin January 1, 2010, at covered facilities. EPA rejected arguments to delay the rule's implementation for a year.

If nothing else, this helps reinforce the message to potential obstructionists in Congress and lobbying groups that action is coming on climate change. Congress can set the policy—or, the Obama Administration is signaling, the executive branch has the existing authority under previous clean air legislation to act on its own through rulemaking.

Conservationists: Remembering Margaret Pollard and Margie Ellison

Two strong environmental activists with a history of special service to North Carolina's minority communities passed away recently. Margaret Pollard was a Chatham County Commissioner, and a trail-breaker as an African-American women in that post. A community organizer for decades, she also served at times as a member of the N.C. Environmental Management Commission and as a member of the board of directors of CCNC. N.C. House Speaker Joe Hackney (D-Chatham), speaking at Pollard's funeral, told mourners, "She had a real passion for helping poor people, for helping provide good nutrition for them and building houses for them."

Margie Ellison, also African-American, served as NC WARN's organizing director since 2006 and was a founder of the Grassroots Energy Alliance. Her work for Chatham County included chairing its Human Relations Commission, and serving on both its Economic Development Board and its Green Economy Task Force. In a statement, NC WARN said that "Margie's life was dedicated to the struggle for civil rights and for social, economic, and environmental justice."

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