Press Release | June 30, 2011

Governor’s veto keeps N.C. coast for beach balls, not tar balls

Vetoes defend safe, healthy environment for North Carolina

Today’s vetoes by Governor Perdue of two bills–S.709 and S.781— defend North Carolina’s clean energy economy and a safe, healthy environment for residents and tourists, said the Southern Environmental Law Center.

“We applaud the governor’s decision to keep North Carolina’s coast open to beach balls but not tar balls,” said Derb Carter, director, Carolina Office, Southern Environmental Law Center. “Despite last year’s BP oil spill, legislators sought to risk oiling North Carolina’s coast—and its multi-billion dollar tourism and multi-million dollar fishing industries—for less than a three-months supply of oil.

“The bill also chained state energy policy to polluting fossil fuels and diverted the state from renewable energy and efficiency pursuits, but today’s veto keeps North Carolina’s innovative, clean energy economy moving forward,” said Carter.

The governor’s veto of S.781 rejects the General Assembly’s efforts to halt all environmental rulemaking.

“The first legislative session under new Republican leadership was disturbing in its assault on clean air and water protections and willingness to increase people’s health risks for the benefit of large polluters,” Carter added. “Vetoing these bills was the only responsible step the governor could take to protect clean water and clean air as requested by people across the state.”

Today’s vetoes follow her earlier veto of an unconstitutional bill passed by the General Assembly, H.482, that sought to dismiss a $101,480 fine against a county that illegally dumped sewage into streams for over three years.

The Mid- and South Atlantic coasts combined hold the equivalent of just about three months supply of oil (1.91 billion barrels) at current rates of U.S. consumption, according to the best available assessments. Despite political assertions, the Energy Information Administration projected that if the United States tripled offshore oil production, there would be no price impact at all until 2020 and only 3 cents to 5 cents a gallon in 2030.

Just hours before state senators introduced S.709 on the one-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon blowout and oil spill, the Gulf Coast Claims Facility reported that more than a half million individuals and businesses had filed claims for economic losses caused by the oil spill.

North Carolina’s beaches are among its most famous attractions for the state’s travel and tourism industry, which generated a record $17 billion from visitor spending and more than $1.5 billion in state and local tax revenues from visitor spending in 2010 according to a study by the U.S. Travel Association.
According to the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries, finfish and shellfish landings brought in $77 million in 2009.

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