You remember a few years back, in 2013, when John E. Skvarla III, the new secretary of Gov. Pat McCrory's N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, had some deep thoughts about climate change, which maybe isn't real, and oil, which maybe is renewable? (Neither of those things is true, by the way, but it's not like you could expect the head of the state's environmental agency to know that.)
Last December, Skvarla, whose DENR tenure was noteworthy primarily for its fealty to industry, hopped over to the commerce department. In his stead we got Donald R. van der Vaart, a deputy secretary and adjunct engineering prof, who also has some deep thoughts about climate change—specifically the White House's plan to finally do something about it.
In a jarringly odd op-ed published Friday in The News & Observer, van der Vaart—again, worth noting, the head of the state's environmental agency—blasted both the EPA and Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democrat who is expected to run for governor.
The EPA's new climate change rules—in development since 2007, when the Supreme Court said the EPA had to do something about climate change under the Clean Air Act—will require the state to reduce its carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030. Sounds like a lot. But consider this, as van der Vaart himself notes: "North Carolina has already reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent since 2005 without the Clean Power Plan, and it is on track to meet the president's goal of a 30 percent reduction by 2030 without intervention from the federal government."
So why, you ask, is the state dragging its heels over a compliance plan that it's on track to meet?
Obama Derangement Syndrome, mostly. There's also a study van der Vaart cited that says the average power and gas bill will increase by a scary 22 percent. Other studies, of course, disagree. As the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions put it in a recent report on a number of analyses of the Clean Power Plan, including van der Vaart's favorite, "The majority of the studies project either cost savings to power users or increases of less than $10 billion a year." (That works out to a less than 3 percent bump.)
But there's also this: Right now the Legislature, especially the wackadoo Senate, is doing its damnedest to get rid of the very things that have led to our climate success. There are bills pending right now to do away with clean-energy tax credits and the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards. There's also a bill proposed to get rid of around half of our state's air quality monitors.
But no, van der Vaart says, there's no need for federal intervention. The state is doing just fine.
Which is true, until it isn't.
This article appeared in print with the headline "Cops find drugs at a Phish show, very proud of selves"