The legislature passed a law, SB 3, which would require North Carolinians to pay for electricity used by out-of-state residents. SB 3, which is the new, hastily drafted energy bill, was touted as requiring utilities to provide at least 7.5% of their electricity from renewable resources. However, North Carolinians likely will not be the recipient of a significant amount of this electricity.
North Carolina is headed toward imposing major new regulations and taxes on the consumption and production of energy, all in the name of fighting global warming. But the climate hysteria on which they are based has nothing to do with reality. Whatever the risks of future climate change, they pale in comparison to the risks of the “wrenching transformation” sought by climate alarmists.
The Senate has passed a major electricity bill that includes something called a renewable energy and energy efficiency portfolio standard (REPS). The REPS consists of two separate requirements: A renewable portfolio standard that requires utilities to provide customers 7.5 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, and energy efficiency measures that require a 5 percent reduction in energy use.
There are three new proposals that would impose hundreds of millions of dollars in new taxes on North Carolinians in the name of fighting global warming. None of these proposals are actually called taxes.
House members approved a $20.3 billion budget for fiscal year (FY) 2007-08, up 7.6 percent from FY 2006-07; 1.5 times the 5.1 percent combined rate of inflation and population growth.
Proposed spending is $1.4 billion ($158 per person or $632 for a family of four) higher than in FY 2006-07. Nearly all of the increase is in K-12 education, even though dropout rates have been increasing.
North Carolina’s air quality is worth celebrating. Despite scare tactics from environmental advocates, N.C.’s air is cleaner than ever and only getting better. The EPA monitors six common air pollutants. It is clear that across the board, N.C.’s air is doing extremely well in relation to all of these pollutants.
Any recommendations made by North Carolina’s Global Climate Commission this spring will lack much of the underlying analysis required by the Commission’s enabling legislation. Senate Bill 1134, which established the Commission in 2005, was explicit. It stated that the Commission “shall conduct an in depth examination” of a list of important scientific and economic issues. After over a year of meetings the Commission has ignored what any reasonable observer would conclude are the most important questions.
There is a consensus on global warming, but it is not the consensus that environmental groups and many in the media suggest. There is no consensus on the extent of future climate change or the extent to which current climate change is human induced or a result of natural variation. The true consensus — where there seems to be no disagreement whatsoever among scientists — is on the proposition that there is no public policy currently being considered to restrict carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by any level of government, including the State of North Carolina, that would have a measurable impact on the climate, either in the short or the long run (a century or longer). That proposition so far remains undisputed. (Revised February 20, 2007.)
The North Carolina Public Utilities Commission is considering charging an extra fee, separate from existing rates, to electric utility customers. This extra charge will help support what is called a “public benefits fund.” The fund would support programs that have nothing to do with the supply of electricity. Consumers would be required to pay the “fee” if they want to receive electricity, and the more electricity they use, the higher their fee will become. To environmental extremists and other proponents of this extra fee, the use of electricity, which allows us to warm our homes and function in modern society, is a “sin” and needs to be reduced.
North Carolina utility consumers may face higher rates for no justifiable reason if extreme mercury regulations are adopted. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is regulating, for the first time ever, mercury emissions from power plants. The purpose is to minimize potentially harmful mercury levels in fish consumed by humans. However, there has never been any documented case in the United States of mercury poisoning from fish. Data linking fish consumption to any type of adverse effect in humans is very weak. In addition, the EPA acknowledges that it does not know the impact mercury emissions from power plants have on the mercury levels in fish. Despite the lack of benefits and the additional costs, North Carolina’s Environmental Management Commission (EMC) is considering whether to adopt regulations which exceed the new and stringent federal standards.
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