Facing South
Facing South

The crazy late-night vote that legalized fracking in North Carolina

Facing South
Facing South
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The controversial practice of fracking -- heavily pushed by energy interests and most Republicans, staunchly opposed by environmentalists and most Democrats -- had been debated for months in North Carolina.

But when it came to the final vote on fracking's future in the state's General Assembly, the decision to legalize the practice ended up being the result of a botched vote.

Late at night, the N.C. House was trying to override a veto Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue had used to block a bill that would give the green light to fracking. The Republican leadership needed 72 votes -- exactly the number they ended up getting.

One of those votes came from Rep. Becky Carney, a Democrat from Mecklenburg County. Carney had voted against fracking in the past, and had spent the day lobbying Democrats to uphold the veto. But when it came time to vote, she pushed the wrong button.

She said her "yes" vote was "very accidental." She immediately went up to talk to Republican House Speaker Thom Tillis about changing her vote, but he wouldn't recognize her. (House rules prevent changing votes if it would alter the outcome.)

Another surprising vote came from Rep. Susi Hamilton, a Democrat from coastal New Hanover county. Hamilton had been recognized by the League of Conservation Voters as a 2012 "Rising Star." She had also co-authored a letter to Gov. Perdue asking her to veto the fracking legislation.

But Hamilton voted in favor of overriding the governor's fracking veto -- and later recanted on her letter to the governor, saying she "did not read the letter before it was released."

Hours before the fracking vote, Republicans slipped in a "technical correction" to their budget bill that steered $60 million in tax breaks to the film industry, based in Hamilton's district in the Wilmington area.

The irony: Republicans and conservatives have long bashed the incentives programs to lure film companies to North Carolina.

In the 2010 elections, Real Jobs NC -- a conservative group backed by Art Pope and other Republican donors -- spent $1.5 million in election attacks, including a mailers that attacked Democrats for the exact same film incentives. One against Rep. Hugh Holliman (D-Davidson) lambasted him for "“rolling out the red carpet for Hollywood fat cats while NC taxpayers pay the bill."

The Civitas Institute, a think tank largely backed by Pope, has similarly ranted against the incentives in their attacks on Democrats. In a typical piece last January -- entitled "Gov. Perdue Favors Hollywood Millionaires Over Struggling North Carolinians" -- Civitas writer Brian Balfour said "such tax incentives are merely another example of government’s attempt to centrally plan the economy, while dispensing special privileges to targeted industries and companies."

But apparently everything's fair game when a big vote is at stake.

 

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Comments

Seeing red beneath a pink sky

This is an absolutely incredible story that demands that those who "ooops, I made a mistake" immediately introduce a bill to outlaw fracking. The evidence is in and fracking IS dangerous. For those who have not seen it, check out "The Sky is Pink" on YouTube.

Why don't I have a say? I

Why don't I have a say? I live in NYC but if a fracking-related earthquake destabilizes a nuclear power plant in North Carolina, it WILL impact me - along with everyone else on the Eastern Seaboard.

States should not be able to approve corporate activities which could negatively impact a region far beyond their own boundaries, without input from the citizens who could be affected.

It's OUR water, too.

The Love of Money........

TIRED!!!??? YES I'm sick and tired of HYPOCRITES and politicians who are for sale to the higest bidder.As it has often been said before we have the best legislators money can buy!!!In regards to Becky Carney;anyone who has an ounce of decency and personal resoonsibility,would have resigned immediately after supposedly hitting the wrong button to cast a vote!!! The nerve of anyone who;for what ever reason screws up that badly,opening the door for enviromentally disasterous consequences for the State of NC and the best EXCUSE they can come up with is my bad,"I was tired"?????? Susi Hamilton apparently is a rising star in the HALL OF SHAME and HYPOCRISY!!! She has no problem selling our states natural resources and jepordizing our long term health and safety for the film industry and her counties short term gain.She added insult to injury by previously proclaiming loudly and in a letter her total opposition to allowing Fracking??? She told the truth the first time and has been lying ever since she took the money!!! SADLY,this is the current state of affair in NC!!! May God help us, because with so called legislators like these two we can only expect the worst for the future of our great state!!! Susi Hamilton should have consulted the states motto for political guidance in casting her vote,instead she choose to make a mockery of it,us, and our state!!! "ESSE QUAM VIDERI"

veto over-ride

I know two representatives that should be sent packing. Rep. Hamilton should know that water runs down, and I hope if more pollution occurs that she will be directly affected. Maybe they will make a film! Join your two faced friends with the big bucks and the heck with the working poor in NC. 60 million dollars would go a long way in giving the governor the funds needed for education. Why do I feel sick?

Rep. Carney from Mecklenburg should be sent packing for acting so carelessly. All other voting representatives were working the same hours. Send her to Wilmington. She can get into acting there! No EXCUSES!

Fracking

I am sorely disappointed with the override veto vote which will allow fracking in NC. I hope our representatives understand that a film deal or any other promise is NOT worth our polluting our water supply which many communities value so highly to overcharge for it.
If our water supply is damaged, it will ruin tourism, watersports, fishing, etc. We will be in the same position as Jamestown, VA where no one will fish or eat anything that comes from the James River.
It is time for our representatives to represent the BEST interests in NC instead of voting the way the party bosses tell them to vote. If this trend continues, then our state legislature will soon be as corrupt as the US Congress. So what will be your next fiasco of poor judgment?
I would love for someone to explain to the public which YOU are supposed to support how fracking is going to help North Carolina.
You should be ashamed of yourselves and resign your position of trust.

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