Robert Y. George: Legislators don’t listen to scientists

June 25, 2014 

We witness today in North Carolina policy-makers, either elected by people or appointed by the governor or General Assembly, who simply ignore, point-blank, advice from prominent scientists. Two recent episodes come to mind.

Geologist Stan Riggs of East Carolina University and Dr. Orrin Pilkey of Duke University advised government that sea level would go up along the North Carolina coast by 39 inches in a century. The Costal Resource Commission, dominated by pro-development members, simply rejected their advice and told the public that the science lacks adequate data.

Similarly the ongoing “frack or no fracking debate” placed scientists in the backseat and put the pro-industry folks in the driver’s seat. The General Assembly decided to go ahead with fracking, despite the risk to water quality warned by scientists. I heard Dr. Amy Pickle of Duke’s Nicholas School of Environment, speak against fracking in a public forum on water quality. She also served on the state Environmental Management Commission. Lo and behold, her warnings fell on deaf ears.

As an active scientist here in North Carolina for four decades, I am of the opinion that there is not much shale in the Triangle counties. We should get our natural gas from Pennsylvania, West Virginia and West New York and leave North Carolina clean. We already have enough mess in our lakes and rivers and even aquifers.

Robert Y. George

Former professor of marine biology, UNC-Wilmington (1972 to 2003)

Wake Forest

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