Ask your Representatives to vote to OPPOSE S76, which would make the “rush to frack” even more dangerous for communities in several regions of NC:
Stop the rush to frack! Will you join us and call your representative today? Ask them to oppose S76!
- Last year’s Senate Bill 820, required one final vote of approval after seeing the regulations developed by the Mining and Energy Commission, BEFORE permitting could start. SB76 ignores this promise and would allow permitting to start in March of 2015, no matter how unprotective the regulations are!
- It would put the livelihood of NC fishermen and coastal tourism and health at risk by promoting offshore oil and gas drilling
- It would repeal the requirement for “landmen” to register in North Carolina, leaving property owners vulnerable, and limiting public access to records about companies operating in NC
- It would legalize deep injection of oil and gas wastes, increasing the chance of earthquakes, spills and contamination in areas far from where fracking would occur, probably coastal areas!
- It prevents local governments from assessing any taxes to pay for the increased costs of road maintenance, emergency and other public services when the industry moves in.
Note: S76 has been pulled from the May 22 agenda but we know it’s going to come up again soon! Legislators need to hear from you so please let them know why you’re opposed to this bill.
Even as legislation to override local regulations and seize municipal water systems teeters on the brink of passing the NC General Assembly, local governments, with the support of local residents to whom they are accountable, are standing up to protect local decision-making on water and environmental concerns.
Senate Bill 612, which mandates that local ordinances cannot be more restrictive than state or federal regulations, is headed to the House after passing in the Senate. House Bill 488, which forcibly removes control of the Asheville drinking water system from Asheville’s elected officials with no compensation, and puts it in the hands of an unelected regional authority, awaits the Governor’s signature. How are local governments responding?
In Anson County last night, county commissioners unanimously approved a moratorium and ordinance banning hydraulic fracturing in the county! Expect more news on this inspiring story of local organizing and action soon. Anson County’s ordinance becomes the second anti-fracking ordinance in the state (the other belongs to the town of Creedmoor).
Meanwhile, in Asheville, the City Council unanimously approved a resolution to legally challenge the water merger mandated by House Bill 488. Citizens in the City and County have been strongly against the merger, which places the water system in the hands of an unelected body; in November 86% of residents in the City voted “no” to such a merger. Clearly listening to the public outcry, and concerned about the huge impacts seizure of the water system could have on the local economy, City leaders are looking to the courts. “In the larger question, taking without compensation, forcing change onto the local system that nobody asked for and the customers haven’t asked for, the citizens voted against by a substantial majority, it’s wrong,” said Councilman Cecil Bothwell. “I believe we have a pretty good legal basis.”
Update, May 3, 2013: H488 has passed in the NC Legislature. Please take the time to email Governor Pat McCrory or call his office at (919) 733-5811, and ask him to veto the bill. To quote a Winston-Salem Journal editorial, “McCrory’s platform included a strengthening of the state’s urban areas, the state’s economic and population drivers. Now he must rein in a legislative leadership that appears determined to meddle in local affairs.”
Let’s call on the former Charlotte mayor to stand up for the rights of municipalities to continue managing public water systems for the good of the people, without Raleigh lawmakers stepping in.
House lawmakers recently introduced H488, unprecedented legislation forcing a municipality, the City of Asheville, to transfer its water system to a regional authority. The move ignores 86% of City residents who voted against the transfer in a referendum last fall, and leaves local officials out of the final decision. The bill gives the City NO compensation for the system, and has very WEAK protections against privatization. If it passes, H488 could set a precedent for lawmakers to take away local control of water from other municipalities throughout the state without local input. (Read about why CWFNC supports local, public control!)
H488 would set a precedent of legislative interference in local government decisions. It could damage the economic vitality of municipal utilities, and make it hard on local economies and small businesses. (Why invest in infrastructure with the knowledge that Raleigh lawmakers could take assets without compensation?) This comes at a time when we already have massive unfunded infrastructure needs in North Carolina.
The language in the bill that nominally protects the new regional system from privatization would still allow public-private partnerships for operation and maintenance of the system. Public-private partnerships, or P3s, have been linked to many of the same negative impacts as full privatization, and communities across the state should be watching for attempts to push this model – the NC legislature last year had a study committee on public-private partnerships and has introduced at least one bill this session to enable them.
Intrusive legislative decisions impacting individual water and wastewater systems are no substitute for public engagement and local cooperation to meet water and wastewater needs in ways that serve the public interest.
What can you do?
Can you take action to keep water and decision-making local? Call your state representative TODAY and ask them to oppose H488!
As of March, 45 towns and cities had passed a resolution opposing legislative transfers like the one that could soon affect Asheville. Is yours on the list? Find out at http://saveourwaterwnc.com/ and if not, consider writing to your local officials and asking them to support such a resolution!
Key reasons to contact your Representatives to stop this bill that makes the “rush to frack” even more dangerous:
- Last year’s Senate Bill 820, which started the process of developing regulations for fracking, required one final vote of approval after seeing the regulations, BEFORE permitting could start. SB76 ignores this reasonable step and lets permitting start by default.
- It would put the livelihood of NC fishermen and coastal tourism at risk by promoting offshore oil and gas drilling
- It removes the requirement for “landmen” to register in North Carolina, leaving property owners vulnerable, and limiting public access to records about companies operating in NC
- Perhaps the most damaging of all, it would legalize deep injection of oil and gas wastes, even worse than fracking, increasing the chance of earthquakes, spills and contamination in areas far from where fracking would occur, probably coastal areas!
Republican Representative Hager has stated that he is very concerned, too.
Here’s where to find your legislators’ contact info, listed by county. Simply click on the link to your Representative’s name to get contact information to reach them in Raleigh Monday night through Thursday noon, or their home district offices on Friday and Monday! Call both, just to make sure they know how you feel.