I think Governor Perdue showed a lot of courage by vetoing S709, The Energy Jobs Act.
The bill was sending North Carolina headlong into hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. It was opposed by a wide array of environmental groups.
Last Tuesday Elaine Chiosso from the Haw River Assembly asked me to speak to a group of protesters across from the Governor’s Mansion in Raleigh. Elaine has been fighting the good fight for several decades in Chatham County, and so I offered my usual response: “Happy to.”
I’m not a big protestor. Tami had arranged a dinner party at the lake that night. Just the same, I trundled off to Raleigh in my uniform to say a few words as requested. On the way I noticed the dirt under my fingernails. I thought of Michael Tiemann. One time when I was questioning my own credentials he simply responded, “You are the one with dirt under your fingernails. You’ll be fine.”
I called him as I sped across the lake, heading into rush hour traffic. His remark was “Thanks for participating in democracy.”
A bunch of people showed up at the rally. Apparently it was an impromptu affair. I didn’t know anyone.
They kicked it off with a few songs from the Raging Grannies. Elaine was masterful with the megaphone. The Capital City Police were chill, and stern, making sure the sidewalk was not blocked and that jaywalkers were kept in line.
The Mayor of Creedmoor spoke. So did our own Mayor Randy Voller. So did a guy from Interfaith Power and Light, representing the faith community. So did an economist from NC State. It slowly dawned on me that they had chosen their speakers as a cross section of society. I was there as “Mr. Businessman.”
In my remarks I said the last time we thought turning to the earth’s crust to extract fossil fuels to power our economy the Governor of North Carolina would have been taking a horse and buggy to work. The streets of Raleigh would have been overflowing with manure and fossil fuels would have represented a “clean technology breakthrough.”
Over a century later, with sea level rising, and asthma rates on the rise, why on earth would we turn back to the earth’s crust for another round of fossil extraction?
My second point was that accidents happen. That is one thing I have learned as an “industrialist.” I said to the crowd, “Secondly, I have been involved in designing, building, and operating chemical plants for the past decade, and the one thing I can say for sure is that accidents will happen.”
If we turn over our forests, and meadows, and farms to the extractors of natural gas we expose ourselves to the risk of errors. And accidents could cost us our drinking water. To me the stakes are too high. If we lose our drinking water we lose our quality of life.
It’s not worth it for a few more disposable BTUS, the byproducts of which will just push our atmosphere further into sickness.
Last night I bumped into Elaine at a party in Silk Hope. She was hopeful for a veto. Today it came.
Tonight I took the kids to the movies, and on my way home I passed the “Frack Free Zone” signs in Bob and Camille’s yard and in front of Edible Earthscapes. I was pumped.
Our side won one thanks to Governor Perdue.