With NC Native Heading EPA, Local Officials Build on Renewed Climate Focus
Tuesday, April 27, 2021
DURHAM, N.C. -- North Carolina leaders said the state is well-positioned to tackle climate change while boosting local economies, especially with support from the Biden administration.
Last week, President Joe Biden and climate envoy John Kerry hosted a world leaders summit to recommit the U.S. to taking action on global warming and clean energy.
Rep. Zack Hawkins, D-Durham, pointed out native North Carolinian and former secretary of the state Department of Environmental Quality Michael Regan now oversees the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
"We're poised to move forward over the next few years in ways we have not been able to even under the Obama administration," Hawkins explained. "There's so much more data available."
Hawkins said Regan understands firsthand how climate-related challenges such as hurricanes and extreme flooding are impacting residents.
He added the state continues to make progress on climate-change mitigation and adaptation efforts that have kicked into high gear with Gov. Roy Cooper's 2018 executive order to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 40% by 2025.
A recent report found more than 25,000 clean-energy jobs are based in rural North Carolina, and Hawkins noted most state lawmakers agree bringing clean-energy jobs to the state is a top priority.
"One of the things that just passed in the North Carolina House is an energy-efficiency measure that will at least allow state buildings, schools, etc., to start to look at ways they can better use energy," Hawkins reported. "That was a bipartisan effort."
Hawkins emphasized his district is ramping up efforts to increase renewable-energy use.
"Through the federal government, we were able to get a total of six electric buses," Hawkins remarked. "And so those are going to operate mainly in low-income areas, no emissions, incredibly quiet, those kinds of actions all align."
Hawkins also pointed to recent legislation he's co-sponsored, House Bill 634, which aims to improve local air quality by placing restrictions on idling heavy trucks.
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