News | March 26, 2021

N.C. gov’s proposed budget invests in healthy air and water, clean energy jobs

Governor Cooper’s budget proposes significant investment in a cleaner, healthier and more resilient

Governor Roy Cooper has released a forward-thinking budget that will create good-paying jobs and promote economic development and equity in North Carolina, while also curbing statewide climate-warming pollution.

The governor’s budget recognizes that climate change is an issue that must be tackled throughout state government, not just at the Department of Environmental Quality. It recognizes the magnitude of the opportunity to transition North Carolina to a clean economy through investments at DEQ, the North Carolina Department of Transportation and the North Carolina Department of Commerce.

North Carolina needs to put its money where its mouth is and invest in common-sense, concrete solutions that cut carbon pollution, and this budget would do exactly that.

Gudrun Thompson, Senior Attorney

It includes funding for the Department of Transportation to produce a clean transportation plan—something that has been lacking in efforts to date to reduce North Carolina’s climate emissions. Strong investments in alternative forms of transportation would move the state away from automobile focused transportation: $10 million would be invested to help communities move bike and pedestrian projects forward, and $30 million is set aside for commuter rail.

“We are pleased to see a budget that finally recognizes the key role that transportation plays in the climate crisis,” says Senior Attorney Kym Hunter, noting the transportation sector is set to become the leading cause of climate change in North Carolina this year.

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Adds Hunter, “We hope that the governor will couple these budget recommendations with strong policies at NCDOT that help our state move away from the failed transportation policies of the past 50 years that only cause congestion, pollution and poor health, and transition us instead to vibrant, livable communities where all North Carolinians have access to the transportation options they need.”

The budget also invests in our communities and workforce to address climate change.

For example, the budget invests $100 million to expand access to clean energy, spur innovation and build clean energy jobs. Fifty million dollars would be invested in local communities and schools—in both urban and rural areas—so they can make investments in clean energy and transportation. Healthy schools mean healthier kids. And investments in clean technology will save these communities money in the long term.

The state must lead if we’re going to protect our families and communities from emerging contaminants. Governor Cooper’s budget will enable state government to play that critical role.

Geoff Gisler, Senior Attorney

The governor’s budget would also place energy managers in all cabinet agencies to help cut energy waste and save taxpayer dollars. Likewise, an additional $23 million invested in low income households and weatherization efforts will save otherwise wasted energy while also reducing utility bills for people least able to afford it.

“The governor’s budget outlines a smart investment strategy that will advance our state as a leader in clean energy jobs while protecting clean air and clean water for all North Carolinians,” says Senior Attorney Gudrun Thompson. “North Carolina needs to put its money where its mouth is and invest in common-sense, concrete solutions that cut carbon pollution, and this budget would do exactly that.”

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In addition to investments in clean transportation and energy, Governor Cooper’s commitment to ensuring that all North Carolinians have clean water is clear in his proposed budget, which includes funding to address the emerging contaminant crisis facing the waters of North Carolina. We are hopeful the state legislature will recognize it is past time to ensure that our citizens have clean water to drink.

“The state must lead if we’re going to protect our families and communities from emerging contaminants,” says Senior Attorney Geoff Gisler. “Governor Cooper’s budget will enable state government to play that critical role.”

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