October 31st, 2013
North Carolina has always had a reputation for being a picturesque state, with our long Atlantic Coast shoreline and mild inland climate. However, in recent years this perception has been under attack, thanks largely to many pieces of legislation that have reduced environmental safeguards throughout the state, especially in rural areas.
Citizen watchdog groups within North Carolina have been disturbed by the implications of recent laws passed by the state legislature. Environmental activists have been vocal about the passage of bills this year that put rural groundwater supplies at risk of contamination as well as reduce regulations for landfills and trash transportation. Many are worried that upcoming legislation may also pave the way for the use of fracking technologies, which can pose a huge risk to the water supply.
In late October, about 40 members of the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network took to the streets in Raleigh to protest this legislation right at the headquarters of the state’s Department of Environmental and Natural Resources. These protesters have accused state representatives of protecting higher income communities at the detriment of lower income, rural communities scattered throughout the state, creating what some have called “environmental racism,” according to this article published by the Winston-Salem Journal.
The North Carolina League of Conservation Voters has come up with more recent reports that are somewhat chilling to environmentalists within the state. Each year, the NCLCV grades state legislators based on their voting record on environmental issues. In 2013, the group gave 82 state legislators scores of zero; they had only handed out a total of 48 zero scores between the years of 1999 and 2012. Most of those poor scores went to Republican members of the state’s House of Representatives and Senate. According to this report from the Institute for Southern Studies, state Republicans and Democrats were within a much closer range of scoring until 2010, when Republican scores from the NCLCV began to sink rapidly.
The health of a state’s inland environment will go a long way in affecting that same region’s coastal environment. Capt. Stacy Fishing Charter is a supporter of anyone who believes that North Carolina’s citizens deserve to breathe fresher air and enjoy clean water.