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Climate Change Order May Harm NC Economy

North Carolina's clean-energy potential could be impacted by the executive order President Trump signed on Tuesday that rolls back environmental protections. (Raymond Bosma/flickr.com)
North Carolina's clean-energy potential could be impacted by the executive order President Trump signed on Tuesday that rolls back environmental protections. (Raymond Bosma/flickr.com)
March 29, 2017

HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. – The executive order issued by President Trump on Tuesday: rolling back environmental protections with a purported effort to grow the economy, is predicted by some to have the opposite effect in North Carolina.

With numerous reports highlighting the potential in the state for wind and solar energy growth, environmental advocates say a reversal of environmental protections may actually stall economic development as developers pursue fossil-fuel growth under eased regulations.

Julie Mayfield, the co-director of the environmental and conservation nonprofit, Mountain True explains:

"North Carolina is the poster child for a strong economy as it relates to clean energy," she said. "To say that that shouldn't be part of North Carolina's economy and diversification is just ridiculous."

The Solar Energy Industries Association ranks North Carolina second in the country for solar-energy capacity, more than sunnier states such as Texas and Arizona. In his order, Trump rescinds the moratorium on coal mining on federal lands, and will initiate a review of the Clean Power Plan initiative.

A recent analysis of Department of Energy data by the Sierra Club found that clean-energy jobs from solar, wind and energy efficiency outnumber the fossil-fuel jobs nationwide. Mayfield says a clean environment and economic growth can work in tandem.

"What I have read about this executive order is Trump is choosing to prioritize jobs over climate change," she added. "It's very frustrating that at this point in our history that he is still defaulting to a decade's-old false choice between the environment and the economy."

According to the Department of Energy, there are more than 80,000 green jobs in North Carolina, compared with roughly 28,000 in electric power generation and fuels.

Reporting by North Carolina News Connection in association with Media in the Public Interest and funded in part by the Park Foundation.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC