THE NEW FACES
For the first time since 1870, the Republican party controls both the executive and legislative branches in North Carolina government. With the General Assembly sporting veto-proof majorities in both its chambers, and Pat McCrory’s election making him the state’s first Republican governor in 20 years, the political landscape in North Carolina has morphed.
Whether it’s for the better is undecided, as McCrory has a mixed environmental record. As mayor of Charlotte, he pushed for air quality protection, light rail development, tree preservation and smart urban growth.
McCrory, however, is vocal in his support of bringing offshore drilling and fracking to the state. He sidestepped the sea-level rise debate last year in the state legislature, saying he wanted to wait before “developing harsh regulations against facts that are still being debated.”
His administration will likely cut back on the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ regulatory powers. His pick for head of DENR, John Skvarla, has been the CEO since 2005 of Restoration Systems, an environmental firm that restores damaged wetlands and collects credits to offset development elsewhere.
Since his appointment, Skvarla has commented that he wants to find common ground, as soon as possible, with environmentalists and that determining the most cost-effective regulations will be one of his biggest priorities.
During a recent interview with Laura Leslie and WRAL-TV, Skvarla said that North Carolina is “not going to go backward in air and water quality protection.”