January 4, 2017

Judging from Governor Cooper’s pick of Michael Regan to run the Department of Environmental Quality, farmers and timber growing landowners better hold on to their wallets because massive new regulations may be close at hand.

Regan, a former honcho at the Environmental Defense Fund, has a record of advocating more regulations on farmers and North Carolina’s timber growing industry, which alone generates three quarters of a billion dollars for our economy.

In 2010, Regan recommended to the Legislative Committee on Global Climate Change that the state put “third party sustainability standards” on timber growers producing wood biomass for renewable energy.

Renewable biomass is a fancy term for the wood chip industry, which produces wood for electricity generation. It’s an important part of the economy in rural North Carolina, where substantial amounts of wood products are exported to the European Union for green energy electricity generation. New restrictions will hurt timber growers, wood mills and our ports.

Even though North Carolina’s forest resources have actually increased 45% in the last 40 years through wise stewardship and management by North Carolina landowners, Regan and his EDF want a crackdown on landowners who grow timber as a renewable energy resource. In fact, the EPF, Regan’s outfit, actually sued to block tree harvesting.

We can rest assured that the “third party sustainability standards” will be written by the radical environmentalists and rubber stamped by Governor Cooper’s new anti-timber growing head of DEQ.

In his recommendation to the Legislature in 2010, Regan also identified hog farmers as a leading source of greenhouse gas emissions, putting a target on the back of another vital North Carolina farming industry for more regulations.

And while we’ve been told by the environmentalists that poultry and hog waste can be converted to green energy, Regan’s EDF bitterly opposed the construction of commercial plants to generate electricity from poultry waste, killing an important revenue opportunity for farmers.

Today, after years of under performing other states, North Carolina has the best performing economy in the country. That’s partly due to regulatory reforms passed by the conservative majority. Regan’s EDF, however, opposes regulatory reform and fought against House Bill 765, which sensibly requires the government to prove a person being fined is guilty and allows businesses to come clean about their environmental problems and fix them without heavy fines. It also helped farmers by relaxing state regulations of seasonal streams that don’t flow year round.

With a DEQ secretary carrying a record of advocating more regulations on farmers and landowners and a Governor who caters to Raleigh and Charlotte, rural North Carolinians better hang on to their wallets.

Exercising their Constitutional power to advise and consent, the Legislature passed a bill requiring Senate approval of Cabinet appointments. The appointment of a radical like Regan proves why this Legislative oversight is needed.

The North Carolina Pork Council, Farm Bureau, the poultry growers and the Forestry Association should demand tough scrutiny of Governor Cooper’s new Environmental warrior against rural North Carolina.