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Morning Memo: McCrory cabinet pick faces more questions, legislature returns

SKVARLA FACES NEW QUESTIONS: Secretary John Skvarla's memo to staff at the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources this week is getting a good bit of attention and creating more questions than it answers. As reported here first, the agency's new mission statement includes this line: "environmental science is quite complex, comprised of many components, and most importantly, contains diversity of opinion." The memo also suggests the agency is more service organziation than state regulator. It raises big questions for the McCrory administration: Is climate change a scientific fact? What about sea level rise? And are human's responsible for global warming?

McCRORY DODGES GLOBAL WARMING QUESTION: As the DENR secretary questions the validity of science, the new Republican governor is sidestepping the global warming issue entirely. Pat McCrory told Travis Fain at the News & Record: "John (Skvarla) and I aren’t going to get caught up in the political semantics of either the left or the right on climate change or global warming. We believe in clean air, clean water and clean ground. ... As my father used to say ... we must walk the fine line between continuing our economic prosperity while also protecting the quality of life and the environment which brought may of us here. And that’s the fine line leadership must continue to walk.” Expect this question to re-emerge Wednesday.

Morning Roundup: Meet McCrory's new environmental chief

The man Gov.-elect Pat McCrory appointed to run the state's environmental agency isn't convinced about global warming. And he’s anxious to move the needle back from what he sees as over-regulation toward what he promises will be a middle ground that protects the environment without hindering economic growth. Meet John Skvarla here.

More political news:

--President Obama cuts short his vacation with automatic budget cuts looming.

--More than 300 shipyard workers in North Carolina could stop loading and unloading cargo ships as of midnight Saturday, the result of stalled contract talks that threaten to idle more than 14,500 dockworkers at 15 of the nation’s major shipping ports.

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