Thursday, August 23, 2007

Greetings From Raleigh 08-23-07

Last week's newsletter summarized the highlights of our session completed on August 2, 2007. For the next several weeks, I will try to focus in more detail on specific issue areas. This week's focus is on conservation and environmental protection.

One of the bright spots of this session is the success we had in protecting our land, air, and water. It was one of the goals we had set for the session and by many accounts we had a landmark session in this regard. We became the first state in the Southeast to establish a renewable energy standard. We permanently banned the construction of new hog lagoons and continued to put money into finding safer, cleaner, and more affordable alternatives for farmers who operate existing ones. We established stronger rules to govern the construction of landfills in our state, which will protect our communities and prevent North Carolina from becoming a dumping ground for other states. We also authorized $100 million in bonds for the Land for Tomorrow preservation program to protect valuable land from being developed and an additional $20 million to preserve beach access. We allocated $8 million to preserve farmland and gave the Clean Water Management Trust Fund $100 million to protect our waters. We also set aside $100 million in grants to help communities replace their aging water and sewer systems.

Investments in these projects and others will protect the natural resources that have made North Carolina such a desirable place to live. They will also ensure that we continue to enjoy the quality of life we have now even as our population continues to grow.

We also made several changes to improve and strengthen the state's energy policies. These changes will reduce our dependence on foreign oil as well as our carbon footprint, strengthen the local market for alternative energy, and save us all money over time. I will share some of those new policies with you in more detail in the next newsletter.

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