In recent years environmental policymakers in the General Assembly have focused on reducing emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) in what is, at best, a misguided attempt to thwart global warming.
In 2007 the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 3 (SB3), which requires North Carolina's electric companies to generate 7.5 percent of the electricity that they sell in the state from renewable sources, such as wind and solar energy, and to induce its customers to reduce their energy use by another 5 percent. The measures are referred to as "energy efficiency" although the term efficiency in this case simply means reduction in use.
Global warming is likely to continue as the focus of environmental policy for the foreseeable future. In 2005 the legislature created the N.C. Legislative Commission on Global Climate Change (LCGCC) to evaluate the issue and to determine what, if anything, should be done about it. From the beginning the Commission's leadership, Rep. Joe Hackney, replaced by Rep. Pricey Harrison, and lawyer and environmental activist John Garrou, all have been strongly in favor of imposing CO2 controls and energy use restrictions on North Carolina’s industries and consumers.
The LCGCC completed its work in May 2010. Its final report recommended a laundry list of policies formulated by an environmental advocacy group, the Center for Climate Strategies, that was hired by the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources for its own commission called the Climate Action Plan Advisory Group (CAPAG).
CAPAG was formed to investigate ways to control CO2 emissions and was specifically forbidden to have any discussion regarding the science of global warming. All of its investigative approaches were developed by the Center for Climate Strategies. Most of the CAPAG recommendations are now being proposed to the legislature by the LCGCC.
Given that former LCGCC chair Rep. Joe Hackney is now Speaker of the House, it is very likely that these recommendations will be taken seriously and ultimately be introduced as legislation in the coming months and years.