Under the Dome

June 3, 2014

Morning Memo: EPA rules draw ire of Republicans, McCrory adminstration

The Obama administration’s plan to cut carbon emissions from power plants is drawing fire in North Carolina from Republicans and mixed reactions from Democrats.

The Obama administration’s plan to cut carbon emissions from power plants is drawing fire in North Carolina from Republicans and mixed reactions from Democrats.

First the news: The nation’s first limits on carbon dioxide, announced Monday, would reduce carbon emissions 30 percent by 2030, compared with 2005. Much of the reduction would begin in 2020. The proposal would let states decide how to reach state-by-state targets.

North Carolina’s power plants will be expected to reduce their carbon emission rates 40 percent by 2030, according to EPA figures.

The reaction from Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration: “There are concerns about both the legality and practicality of the rule that could mean costly and unnecessary resources devoted to implementation efforts at the state level while the plan is litigated,” said DENR spokesman Drew Elliot. “In the past, EPA plans have been struck down or modified while states are left holding the bag. Obviously we would like to avoid any unnecessary taxpayer expenses.”

Sen. Richard Burr issued a statement late Monday that criticized the plan. “Despite a weak economy, and the recent addition of staggering health care costs under Obamacare, the EPA and Administration want to add further strain on American families by implementing aggressive regulations that would cost 224,000 jobs and $3,400 of disposable income per household, without any effect on the global CO2 emissions.”

His Democratic counterpart, Sen. Kay Hagan, issued a more cautious statement late in the day saying she was still evaluating the proposal and what it means for the state and its economy. “I want to make sure that the proposal does enough to recognize the progress we’ve made reducing carbon emissions and promoting renewable energy,” she said, mentioning her efforts in the state legislature to pass renewable energy mandates. “North Carolina must not be asked to carry a higher burden simply because we had the foresight and courage to take action.”

It’s quite a contrast in tone with Rep. David Price, a Chapel Hill Democrat. “The Clean Power Plan will help keep the air we breathe and the water we drink clean, it will protect public health, and it will foster innovations and efficiencies that are good for consumers,” Price said in a statement. “After years when Congress has failed to act, I applaud the administration for taking an important step toward addressing climate change and for rejecting the false choice, advanced by some, that we have to decide between growing our economy leaving a cleaner planet to future generations.”

The issue of climate change and what to do about it gets mixed reviews in polling. In a PPP poll for an environmental group, 53 percent of North Carolina small business owners surveyed believe the state is feeling the affects of climate change. More here. A national poll finds red states are looking for action too.

*** 11 protesters were cited and released after sit-in at the Capitol. Commerce nonprofit chief Richard Lindenmuth comes under the microscope and more on Rep. Tim Moffitt’s media company – below in the Dome Morning Memo. ***

TODAY IN POLTICS: Gov. Pat McCrory and the Council of State will meet at 9 a.m. Tuesday. The governor will then attend the Hispanic Contractors Association conference in Durham at 1 p.m.

At the statehouse, the House budget committees begin meeting at 8:30 a.m. to develop the chamber’s spending plan. With the Senate’s budget, the gulf between the two chambers starts wide. The House Education Committee is meeting at 10 a.m. in 643 LOB to consider a bill to replace Common Core standards. The House Transportation Committee will hear a long list of legislation at noon in 643 LOB. The House Agriculture Committee is at 1 p.m. in the same room.

The full House meets at 3 p.m. The Senate is not meeting again until Wednesday.

In Mount Airy, congressional candidate Phil Berger Jr. is promising a major announcement at 3:15 p.m.

In Washington, Sen. Richard Burr will join Sens. Tom Coburn, Jeff Flake and John McCain at 1:45 p.m. in the Capitol to announce legislation to address the wait time at Veterans Affairs hospitals.

#NCSEN --- The headlines from the U.S. Senate campaign trail.

HAGAN TOUTS HER HBCU BILL: Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan visited N.C. A&T late Monday morning to tout legislation she said would help the university recruit and train more minority students in science and technology fields. Read more here.

GREG BRANNON EMAILS: “Not done yet.” Former U.S. Senate candidate Greg Brannon, who lost the GOP primary in May is reaching out to endorse Lee Bright in the Senate race in South Carolina against incumbent Lindsey Graham.

#NCGA --- A roundup of news from the N.C. General Assembly.

LAWMAKER’S COMPANY PROFITS FROM HIS COLLEAGUES: Carolina Public Press, a nonprofit media organization in western North Carolina that gets some of its money from a group that opposes the Republican legislative agenda, looked into Rep. Tim Moffitt’s media company, InTouchNC.

From the story: InTouchNC has received more than $55,000 in payments from the campaign committees of dozens of state legislators. The company’s top client has been Moffitt himself, with the legislator paying his company $9,500 from his own campaign funds. According to Moffitt, he did not vet the idea of establishing the company with the State Ethics Commission, contradicting an early media report that said he had done so. A number of legislators who have received the company’s services have listed no expenditures to InTouchNC in their campaign finance reports. Moffitt said they are paying by other means. Read more here.

SENATE BUDGET ITEM SPARKS PRESS FREEDOM CONCERNS -- AP: A provision in the Senate budget bill passed last week would create restrictions for online jail mug shots and ban companies from charging people to take them down.

Slipped into the $21.2 billion budget, the measure is aimed at companies that profit by posting the mug shots online. It’s one of several provisions in the 275-page budget that does not appear to be directly related to government spending. Critics have lamented so-called “special provisions” in previous budgets saying they should be considered separately.

John Bussian, attorney with the North Carolina Press Association, said the provision could have far-reaching impacts on the freedom of the press. Read more here.

MORE: Senate budget eases enforcement of environmental fines. Read more here.

#NCPOL --- More political news from North Carolina.

ONE LINE STORY: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is paying for web ads (missing a great deal of context) that criticize Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers on the government shutdown and opposing the federal health care law.

POLICY WATCH INVESTIGATES McCRORY APPOINTEE: From the story -- The Raleigh businessman and “change agent” selected to steer the McCrory administration’s privatization of the state’s job recruitment efforts came into the high-profile job with no economic development background and a checkered work history.

Richard “Dick” Lindenmuth, 69, will be taking charge of an entirely new method of economic development in the state by leading a quasi-public group funded with a mix of private and public dollars.

An N.C. Policy Watch investigation into Lindenmuth’s background uncovered federal court records showing that controversy has marred his career in recent years. He placed his Raleigh consulting company, Boulder International, into bankruptcy in 2010 and had his fiduciary abilities called into question by a federal bankruptcy judge in a separate incident. Read more here.

11 PROTESTERS CITED, NOT ARRESTED: With concerns about fracking, coal ash pollution, access to health care and fiscal policies that limit benefits for those struggling economically, several dozen demonstrators walked into the N.C. Capitol on Monday with demands for the governor.

They had a letter they wanted to deliver, but Gov. Pat McCrory was not in the building and the protesters had not made an appointment. When the State Capitol Police asked everybody to leave about seven minutes after 5 p.m., the routine closing time, 11 protesters settled onto the floor for the second capital city sit-in this legislative session. ...

Glen Allen, chief of the State Capitol Police, said each demonstrator had been detained, then cited for second-degree trespass, a misdemeanor that requires them to go to court. Allen said he cited the demonstrators instead of arresting them because the procedure would not be as taxing on the courts. Read more here.

CANNON TO ENTER GUILTY PLEA THIS MORNING: Former Mayor Patrick Cannon, returning to the public spotlight for the first time since his stunning arrest, is expected to plead guilty Tuesday to a federal corruption charge.

New documents released Monday say Cannon will stand before U.S. Magistrate Judge David Cayer at 10:45 a.m. to offer his plea to a single count of honest services wire fraud. The charge is commonly used in cases where public officials take kickbacks or bribes.

Cannon and his lawyers signed a plea agreement with prosecutors on May 8, but the terms have remained secret until they were unsealed Monday morning. Read more here.

QUICK LOOK --- More headlines from across the state.

Wake County will raise its teacher-pay supplement from the second-highest in the state to the highest. Read more here.

Raleigh, other cities license sweepstakes industry despite ban. Read more here.

N.C. State, state agriculture department invest big in new technologies. Read more here.

NC crime lab gets international certification. Read more here.

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