Vote for Clean Water!

Making informed voting decisions, in spite of the crap in your mailbox.

Ahh voting season…that wonderful time of year when we can’t seem to escape from the relentless tv ads berating this or that politician. My 11-year-old son can recite them verbatim. The other day he said, “Mom, did you know that Kay Hagan is responsible for runaway spending? And Thom Tillis doesn’t care about education?” His conclusion was that neither one of these people offer voters the best choice. I’d have to agree with him.

The problem is, all this propaganda is the last thing we should be basing our voting decisions on. For example, take this flyer from Charles Jeter I pulled out of my mailbox today:IMG_7297

If you live in the Mountain Island Lake area, you probably received it too. Reading this flyer would make you think that Mr. Jeter is the hardest working man in the NC House when it comes to Mountain Island Lake (although that’s certainly not saying much). Beautiful photo of the lake, picture of crystal clear drinking water on the other side. The flyer states in big yellow print that Rep. Jeter is “doing what’s right” and will “protect our environment and families.”

But is that really true? Not exactly.

I did some research, and Mr. Jeter made only two votes to protect the environment during the entire session. The League of Conservation Voters gave him a measly 20 (out of 100) score when it comes to protecting the environment. To his credit, Jeter voted for strengthened rules to permit fracking (hydraulic fracturing) in North Carolina. And he voted no on the “fast track” fracking bill. But that’s where the credit ends.

Although Jeter claims on his flyer that he and his colleagues ensured that the coal ash site on Mountain Island Lake would be cleaned up, the bill passed in the North Carolina General Assembly amounts to even FEWER protections for our drinking water than before the bill was passed. That’s right; it WEAKENED existing laws on the books. It would have been better if our General Assembly had done nothing on coal ash rather than pass this bill. In an editorial in the Raleigh News Observer, Amy Adams called the bill an “affront” to the people of North Carolina. When it comes right down to it, the only reason our General Assembly passed the bill was so they could say they had done something.

The bill specified four coal ash sites for priority clean up. Riverbend/Mountain Island Lake happens to be one of those four. However, Duke Energy had already committed to making these four sites high priority because they are ranked as “high hazard” by the EPA and due to lawsuits filed by the Southern Environmental Law Center and the US government’s Grand Jury investigation. The bill basically ignored the other ten coal ash dumps in the state.

If your drinking water is important to you, if Mountain Island Lake is important to you, I encourage you to take a hard look at how the candidates have voted when it comes to protecting this precious resource. The League of Conservation Voters provides an easy to use, in-depth voter guide here.

If you’d prefer a quick run-down of candidates in our area, here you go. (Warning: it’s not pretty.)

All scores from League of Conservation Voters

NC House:

  • John Torbett, Gaston County: Score: 0/100
  • Charles Jeter, Mecklenburg: : 20/100
  • Rodney Moore, Mecklenburg:  Score: 45/100
  • Kelly Hastings, Gaston County: Score: 0/100
  • Thom Tills: He missed so many votes he didn’t even get a score
  • Ruth Samuelson also missed too many votes to get a score

NC Senate

  • Kathy Harrington, Gaston County: 0/100
  • Jeff Tarte, Mecklenburg County: 0/100
  • Bob Rucho, Mecklenburg County: 0/100
  • Jeff Jackson, Mecklenburg County: 80/100
  • Joel Ford, Mecklenburg County: 60/100

Here are a few more of our General Assembly’s claims to fame in the 2014 session:

• Tripled the amount of wetlands that can be destroyed by development with NO state control or mitigation required

(FYI Reps. Jeter, Torbett, Hastings, and Senators Tarte, Ford, Harrington and Rucho all voted FOR this bill)

  •  Met behind closed doors on important issues
  •  Disallowed public comment on committee meetings
  •  Regularly withheld information on bills until last minute
  •  Held meetings at last minute to prevent public comment

We have to assume that these candidates are counting on the voters to be uninformed and glean all their information from glossy mailers and slick tv commercials. Please, don’t be that voter. Take the time to do your research and make an informed decision. It matters to all of us.

Visit the Catawba Riverkeeper‘s in-depth website to learn more.

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