Happy Groundhog Day 2018 folks! The marmot in Pennsylvania saw his shadow this morning in a completely overcast day meaning six more weeks of winter. I’m beginning to think the groundhog might be more accurate than the climate change crowd, but what do I know?
The story we broke yesterday about Gov. Cooper having a potential $58m honeypot from whence to dole out favors is spreading across the state and the N&O had their coverage of the story front and center today. The natural gas pipeline cometh, but in exchange it appears the Gov will have sole discretion over the money for all manner of favors including but not limited to “economic development” according to his spokesman Ford Porter. Environmental groups are starting to scream but not as much as they would or should. Other groups, like Civitas, are also crying foul. This stinks, it’s going to get worse! (http://www.newsobserver.com/news/business/article197889219.html)
We discussed the issue with Tim Boyum of Spectrum Cable News and he agreed that this is quite a problem for the Governor’s administration. In Virginia, the same fund was set up with third party groups via the state government. ONLY in NC is the Gov that man holding the funds.
Col. Francis DeLuca, outgoing President at Civitas, joined us next to discuss his perspective on this issue as his group was quoted in the aforementioned story. Fines and forfeitures go to the schools, but this falls in a huge shady area not clarified by law. It may well end up being unconstitutional, but time will tell. DeLuca also pointed out that this could easily look like a Pay to Play situation wherein a permit was approved in lieu of money given.
Former DEQ Secretary Donald van der Vaart joined us at the top of the second hour to discuss how such approvals are made. He was clear in stating that some folks were “reassigned” within the administration and that one resigned following the GenX approvals even though they were acting as scientist. It is clear that politics is at work within the NC DEQ.
Van der Vaart discussed the serious nature of this situation by stating that anyone looking at the approval process would have difficultly NOT seeing that the $58m would be returned if the permit was not issued. He also detailed the differences between the Virginia situation which removes the Governor from the issuance of funds and the NC situation wherein Gov. Cooper has sole discretion over how the money is spent.
The Virginia agreement was signed in December, why did NC take until now and why was the Gov’s office the sole beneficiary of the money? Considering that natural gas is a NEED for the state and remediation could have been handled by the federal government, why is the Gov involved at this level? Is there a political motivation behind securing the funds?
In the end, this is but the beginning of what appears to be a dark cloud forming for Gov. Cooper and his staff acting in their own interest and not that of the state.
We briefly touched on the offshore drilling issue as Att. General Josh Stein has decided to oppose it as well. It’s the “poll driven” thing to do but not in our national energy interest. Of note, the Russian and Iranian governments are also hoping we don’t compete with oil resources on the global market. Worth considering! (http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/article197943094.html)
President Trump’s approval rating at Rasmussen has jumped to 49%, his highest levels yet, on the heels of the SOTU and the tax cuts. The pending memo may push this even higher. Poll driven democrats don’t understand it, but are reeling from following polls rather than leading on issues. (http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/trump_administration/prez_track_feb02)
Wrapping up we had to ponder as to why democrats and the media (redundant) are so eager to protect government secrets and how that seems to be only a current phenomenon. (https://spectator.org/from-publishing-the-pentagon-papers-to-suppressing-the-nunes-memo/) And while we didn’t discuss the Spectator piece, it is worth the read. We did, however, discuss the piece over at the WSJ on what to look for beyond the partisan spin as the memo comes up. (https://www.wsj.com/articles/memo-reading-for-nonpartisans-1517530297?shareToken=st2970f114d2f540e48731de9fa29f34e8&reflink=article_email_share)
Until Monday, by which time a lot more stuff is likely to hit the fan!