The Energy Modernization Act

The Energy Modernization Act: A Green Response

On Thursday, May 26 the North Carolina legislature passed, with no public input and no committee debate, Senate Bill 786, which is a bill to expedite fracking for natural gas in North Carolina. This bill is odious in many ways, but there are two provisions in particular that stand out as representative of the open contempt of the government for the citizenry and for the exercise of democratic government.
The first and most publicly discussed is the provision that protects the contents of fracking fluids as trade secrets, and makes their disclosure to the public by anyone other than the owners of the product a felony. This provision is deliberately intended to cow the opponents of fracking. It places the interests of private companies over that of the citizens who might be affected by the companies’ actions, and it reveals the legislature as a tool of those interests. This cannot be disguised by any amount of braying about job creation and cheaper energy. And it reveals that the legislature's and the governor’s attitude towards the citizens of NC is one of disdain for their voice, disregard for their future and sneering contempt for the idea of a government that works for the good of all.

The second and less discussed provision of the bill, but possibly the one with the greatest impact from the Green point of view, is section 113-415.1. Titled explicitly "Local ordinances prohibiting oil and gas exploration, development, and production activities invalid; petition to preempt local ordinance.", the provision contains the following language " It is the intent of the General Assembly .... to place limitations upon the exercise by all units of local government in North Carolina of the power to regulate the management of oil and gas exploration, development, and production activities...".

The Green principal of decentralization of power is clearly violated by this language. Greens maintain that the concentration of power in the hands of a central authority leads to concentration of wealth, militarization and a diminution of democracy. All of the seeds of those consequences are contained in the sweeping and arrogant language of this provision.

Additionally, this language makes a mockery of the "small-government" ideas so publicly beloved (and privately belittled) by the Republican Party and its extremists. In effect it says, "Small government for me, but not for thee." That this dissonance is not acknowledged by the bill's proponents speaks volumes about the intellectual and moral barrenness of the Republican Party, and that of the Democrats that voted with them.

The North Carolina Green Party calls upon the citizens of North Carolina to reject the ideas inherent in the passage of this bill and decry the ill-concealed anti-democratic intent of the legislature and the governor in creating, passing and signing into law this deliberately malicious piece of legislation.

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