Saturday, March 07, 2015

Mike Hager Tried To Pull a Fast One for the Frackers

Mike Hager
It was a little "innocent" sentence tucked inside a "technical correction" bill, but it was far from innocent. It would have lifted air pollution rules at fracking sites around the state. Air emissions from fracking have been linked to health effects including respiratory problems, birth defects, blood disorders, cancers, and neurological issues.

NC House Republican Majority Leader Mike Hager (R-Rutherford) did the dirty deed, and it shouldn't surprise anyone to discover that he's also the top recipient of oil and gas contributions in all of North Carolina state politics. At least he was in the most recent election cycle. 

Hager is also a former employee of Duke Energy and perhaps the biggest enemy of renewable energy in the General Assembly. He led the effort to kill the state's renewable energy standard, calling it an "entitlement program."

But back to the "technical correction" bill that would have sneaked in a provision lifting air pollution rules for frackers. It passed its first reading in the House 108-6, but then environmental groups sounded the alarm. It failed its second reading 41-77, with 33 Republicans voting against it, an unprecedented comeuppance for the Republican Majority Leader.

Not that 33 House Republicans are suddenly born-again environmentalists. No, many of them are saying, "Oh, we'll pass that amendment in due course. We just didn't like the underhanded way Mike Hager was trying to do it. We're fully capable of unleashing the fracking industry in an open-handed way!"

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