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Environmentalists: Protecting Environment is not a Partisan Issue in NC

Photo: Sunset North Carolina coast. Courtesy: Kitty McGarth, North Carolina Coastal Federation
Photo: Sunset North Carolina coast. Courtesy: Kitty McGarth, North Carolina Coastal Federation
January 25, 2013

NEWPORT, N.C. – North Carolina lawmakers are gearing up in Raleigh for this year's legislative session, which starts next week.

On the agenda are some environmental issues, and activists are reminding lawmakers about the importance of supporting policies that protect the state's environment.

A recent poll commissioned by the North Carolina Coastal Federation found that 70 percent of Democrats and Republicans who responded said the environment was at least as important to them as economic development.

Todd Miller, executive director of Public Policy Polling, says the decisions lawmakers make about the environment will impact their public perception.

"When it comes to the environment, it's really not a Republican or Democratic issue,” Miller says. “It's something that everyone is concerned about. Their performance will be judged on whether or not they're good stewards of the state's environment."

Under discussion this year will be funding for environmental conservation funds, and Miller also expects existing environmental regulations to be discussed.

Miller says one problem greeting lawmakers is budget cuts made to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources over the last two years. He says the cuts make it difficult for staff to enforce existing regulations.

"The Department of Environment and Natural Resources budget was cut by 40 percent,” Miller explains. “More cuts to that department are not going to be good in terms of the state's capacity to make good decisions."

According to the North Carolina Coastal Federation survey, 75 percent of respondents said the environment was very important or somewhat important when it comes to whether they will reelect Governor Pat McCrory in 2016.

Stephanie Carroll Carson/Scott Herron, Public News Service - NC