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Environmental TV ad thanks U.S. Sen. Hagan

A TV ad will run in North Carolina thanking U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan for voting to confirm the new Environmental Protection Agency Administrator.

The U.S. Senate delayed a vote to approve Gina McCarthy as the leader of the EPA. But after she was finally confirmed, the Environmental Defense Fund decided to launch an ad campaign showing appreciation for senators in six states, including North Carolina.

The Hagan ad rotates through shots of various children smiling, while a narrator says that her vote for McCarthy was a vote for “clean air.” Now parents of children with asthma – and those children – can “breathe a little easier.”

Ad campaign designed to boost president's climate change message

The Environmental Defense Fund is airing television advertisements in North Carolina to boost President Barack Obama's climate change message in the State of the Union address.

Perdue urges quick action on green

Gov. Bev Perdue told the first meeting of the Energy Policy Council on Wednesday that she wanted her advisors to come up with a plan make the state more energy efficient and environmentally friendly by April in time for the short session of the legislature.

The governor said she wanted the council to look at what taxes should be changed, whether utility regulations should be altered and whether the work force is being properly trained for new green jobs, Rob Christensen reports.

"I am urging you all to make some decisions very quickly on how we can push North Carolina into a national leadership position in green around the green economy," Perdue told a meeting held on the Centennial Campus at N.C. State University.

The council is headed by Tim Toben of Chapel Hill, developer of Greenbridge Development and includes executives from Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas, the Environmental Defense Fund, a biofuels company, a solar fuels company, legislators and others.

Co-chair already against drilling

The co-chair of a legislative task force on offshore drilling editorialized against it last year.

In a guest editorial in the Charlotte Observer on Sept. 3, Doug Rader wrote that drilling for oil and natural gas off the coast of North Carolina will not reduce gas prices, jeopardize the state's fishing industry and threaten rare coral wilderness.

"The bottom line is clear: oil drilling off North Carolina's coast is not relevant to gas prices we are likely to experience in the coming decades," he wrote.

Rader was appointed by House Speaker Joe Hackney to co-chair a task force that will spend as much as $100,000 and up to a year looking into offshore drilling.

The chief ocean scientist for the Environmental Defense Fund, he served on a panel for Republican Gov. Jim Martin in 1989-90 which came out against exploratory drilling off the coast.

After the jump, the editorial.

Hog bill pokes holes in 1995 reform

A bill that would soften 1995 protections for neighbors of hog farms passed a senate vote Wednesday.

The bill, among other things, would allow hog farms to get approval to rebuild or change the use of existing structures without getting the permission of neighbors. The bill applies to buildings and structures that were built prior to a 1995 law that required buildings to be a certain distance from homes, schools and churches.

Sen. Charlie Albertson, a Duplin County Democrat, said the change would not have any adverse effects on the environment, especially since farmers would not be able to increase the size of their operation.

"If I saw anything that I thought was going to be harmful to the environment, I would not be supporting this bill," Albertson said. 

Environmental groups say the bill gives hog farm operations the ability to permanently avoid reforms that went into effect 13 years ago. It shuts neighbors out of possible changes to a hog farm. Simply housing a different group of hogs in a building could have a noticeable effort on emissions and odor, said Joe Rudek, senior scientist with the Environmental Defense Fund.

"The industry would be getting a back door for new farms," Rudek said. "They would be able to change the very nature of the farm by raising new animal types."

The bill must still pass another Senate vote before moving to the House. The bill is HB 822.

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