By Patrick Cooney
As a "follow up" to Fracking Harms Fish, this article discusses the politics surrounding fracking in North Carolina. As such, this is not one of our normal weekly fisheries related posts with The Fisheries Blog. Please feel free to leave constructive comments following this "follow up" should you feel inclined to discuss, and please check back in on Monday for another fisheries related topic.
The following is an account of what occurred in the first few days of July, 2012 in the North Carolina Assembly with regards to the Clean Energy and Economic Security Act.
Captain America, the Marvel inspired, patriotic shield throwing, and communist crushing Super Hero, sold the final legitimate vote to allow fracking in North Carolina.
Let's take a step back a few days to figure out just how Captain America gained such incredible Super Power.
North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue vetoed a bill on Sunday (7/1/2012), thereby preventing fracking in North Carolina. She cited that only 5.6 years worth of methane deposits are available in North Carolina, and fracking would only create a temporary boost in jobs, but would require indefinite mitigation of environmental consequences and costs.
In response, the Senate promptly voted on Monday morning (7/2/2012) to override the Governor's veto. On the other hand, the House needed 6 members to switch their votes from against fracking to for fracking in order to reach the super majority needed to override a veto.
Whispers of large sums of money started filling the halls in an effort to sway votes. Pro-frackers did everything they could Monday morning and afternoon to wheel and deal in the name of politics, and came up with enough money and incentives to buy 4 votes. But don't you worry, Captain America knew better, and held out for more money, as profits are important in his industry.
As the end of the political session neared, and the do-or-die moment came, the Pro-frackers looked like they didn't have the last two votes needed to start pumping unknown chemicals into the ground. But Captain America has been around since 1941, and knew that when someone is cornered, they are most vulnerable to wheeling and dealing.
On what some consider the real Independence Day for America, Captain America wielded his power in a backroom deal, and with shield flying, cast the fifth vote in favor of fracking, leaving the Pro-frackers only one vote shy.
But how, you ask, could a fictional character be so powerful to somehow cast a vote in the House of Representatives in North Carolina in favor of fracking?
To answer that question, look no further than Representative Susi Hamilton who represents the second smallest county, New Hanover, in North Carolina. Susi was recently labeled as a "Rising Star" by an environmental conservation group because of her championing of environmental stewardship. Susi even wrote a letter to Governor Bev Perdue requesting she veto the fracking bill because of the dangers the industry posed the environment.
Yet, despite Susi championing against fracking just a week prior, the power of Captain America trumped Susi's previous worries about fracking polluting water, land, and air.
You see, Susi Hamilton represents the county where Captain America, the box office smash, was filmed in 2010. A sequel is being considered, and Captain America wants a lot of money in the form of tax breaks if he is to film the sequel in New Hanover County. The legislature was not in favor of paying this large of a price tag for a movie...that is, until they were desperate for those precious few votes to allow fracking.
Once an environmental defender, Susi Hamilton sold her vote from against fracking to for fracking in return for $60 million...yes $60 million...in tax breaks for the film industry to lure Captain America 2 to North Carolina. This money must go a long way for Captain America, especially combined with the $176 million already raked in at the domestic box office from Captain America: The First Avenger. Considering the money, do you think Captain America will go back to North Carolina to fight against those who contaminate well water and pollute streams?
|Susi Hamilton is already billed as the heroine|
in the Captain America sequel with her $60 million vote.
But wait you say, that was only 5 of the 6 votes needed to override the veto. How did fracking become legal if Captain America's $60 million vote still left them one shy of their target? This is where the even crazier bit comes in.
The final vote did not occur until 11:00 PM, and tensions were high knowing the vote would be close, especially considering the pork barrels rolling down the aisle. Would anyone else flip with that kind of money being offered?
Representative Becky Carney was working with people all day to try and prevent them from accepting incentives to switch their vote. She was keeping her fingers crossed for a narrow margin to uphold the Governor's veto that would prevent fracking, but then claimed she did the unthinkable. Those crossed fingers of hers accidentally pushed the button on her desk that indicated she was in favor of fracking instead of against. She screamed out that she had pushed the wrong button, and made a dash to the front to be recognized before the final tally was taken. The pro-frackers perked up at her shriek, and rather than allow her to fix her mistake, called for an immediate "clincher" to make her vote unchangeable.
And there you have it folks. The wrong push of a button and $60 million just opened the door to frack North Carolina. Maybe as a promotional activity they can give away a free bottle of contaminated fracking water with the purchase of a Captain America 2 movie ticket?
|Free Bottle of Captain America Frack Water!!!|
Should you be interested in learning about fracking, read our article about how Fracking Harms Fish. Further, a licensed geologist caught wind of our series on fracking and weighed in on the his perspective on the future of fracking in North Carolina.
|Hamilton High-Five. |
(Credit: News & Observer)