Jim Davis wrote that his environmental record should be judged on "public service record or public statements." I agree. Two respected environmental advocacy groups, N.C. League of Conservation Voters and Environment N.C., looked at a wide range of important environmental legislation voted on this year and graded legislators if they voted for positive environmental regulations that would protect both our environment and N.C. citizens. Among the bills considered were those to move the state toward fracking, limit control over air and water protections, and dissolve or restructure important environmental regulation boards. Davis scored a perfect negative score of zero by both organizations.
Let's examine a couple of these issues more closely. The Koch brothers, owners of one of the leading pollution industries in the U.S., devised the "No Climate Tax Pledge." Signing politicians promise not to spend any money to address climate change without an equivalent amount in tax cuts. Davis proudly aligned himself with the Koch brothers by signing this pledge. He then went much further in representing big industrial polluters against the interests of N.C. citizens by sponsoring the bill "Limit Regulation of Greenhouse Gas Emissions." This bill would "bar state agencies or local government from adopting, implementing or enforcing a rule or ordinance that regulated greenhouse gas emissions ..." even when these gases were being regulated to protect human health. The N.C. League of Conservation Voters wrote of the proposed bill, "It's a sweeping, ideologically-driven rejection of the very concept of cutting carbon emissions." Davis's bill was so radical in eliminating any possible future regulations that may help control climate change and protect human health that even his Tea Party colleagues did not vote this out of committee.
During the 2012 campaign Davis frequently stated we should raise N.C. limits on arsenic pollution which would help save money for polluting manufacturing plants. The problem is that arsenic is documented by the EPA to be a human carcinogen causing bladder, liver, lung, and skin cancer, and liver and kidney failure, and severe nerve damage. Rather than introduce a bill to raise limits on a known carcinogen, Republicans snuck into the Budget Bill a section allowing the legislature to fire all current members of the Environmental Management Commission and replace them with pre-selected members. They eliminated the much needed position of a public health expert. After this unprecedented power grab, the new commission proceeded to raise the previous limits on arsenic pollution in the atmosphere by 900 percent. Ignoring the requests of environmental experts, the new commission did not even consider how raising the limits on arsenic air pollution would soon lead to higher levels of arsenic ingestion from our water and food supply as the arsenic in the air always settles to the ground. Davis in these and in all 13 important environmental votes this year voted consistently for the interests of big industry and against the health of our environment and WNC citizens.
Ed Morris, MD, PhD – Franklin, N.C.