by Donna Martinez
Former Senior Writer and Editor, John Locke Foundation
At a news conference late Wednesday, Gov. Roy Cooper said the GOP used H.B. 90 as political vehicle to advance partisan goals. Meantime, Senate Leader Phil Berger continued questioning governor’s authority to create the $57.8 million fund. From Carolina Journal’s Dan Way:
Gov. Roy Cooper insisted $57.8 million from energy companies building the Atlantic Coast Pipeline was a voluntary contribution, but said at a news conference he doesn’t know whose idea it was originally to seek the money he planned to distribute.
During a 20-minute meeting with reporters Wednesday, Feb. 20, Cooper accused the General Assembly of hijacking the escrow fund he planned to create. In doing so, lawmakers risked losing the windfall he intended to use for environmental mitigation, renewable energy, and economic development projects. He also attacked GOP lawmakers for using a needed class-size reduction funding measure as a political vehicle to enact the pipeline provision alongside a plan merging the state elections and ethics boards.
The governor failed to mention any constitutional authority he has to claim control over the fund without subjecting it to the legislative appropriations process. Nor did he clarify who originated the idea for a mitigation fund developed separately from the permitting process for the pipeline.
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