Jeffrey Warren: Geologist, former adjunct associate professor and recording artist of a kids’ rock album Synonym Toast, he is also a powerful architect of state environmental legislation.
Warren’s LinkedIn page lists 56 bills on which he says that he served as an “advisor/strategist” for the Senate. Most of the legislation focused on weakening environmental protections for the coast and water and air quality.
(There were a couple of exceptions: The Opossum Right-to-Work Act, which allows Clay County residents to capture a wild marsupial, place her in a plexiglass box and lower her at midnight on New Year’s Eve, amidst the ruckus of fireworks. The Historic Artifact Management and Patriotism Act forbids local governments from permanently removing state monuments from local property. This bill, now law, arose from the controversy over monuments honoring the Confederacy, and by extension, slavery.)
Below are Warren’s Top 15 Greatest Hits. These bills became law unless otherwise noted.
1. Energy Jobs Act (Vetoed by Gov. Bev Perdue) Would have promoted oil and gas drilling off the North Carolina coast, required the governor to enter an agreement with her counterparts in Virginia and South Carolina to develop an offshore plan.
2. Clean Energy and Economic Security Act (Vetoed by Perdue; House and Senate override)
Legalizes fracking but delayed permitting kept secret chemicals used in fracking fluids.
Limited how scientists can measure sea level rise using certain historical data
Delayed (again) Jordan Lake rules
Set stage for restrictions on local governments’ ability to regulate fracking and on compulsory pooling, which requires property owners to allow drilling on their land under certain circumstances
Prohibits the Department of Environmental Quality from setting regulations on fracking, further curbed local governments’ regulatory power on fracking
Allowed for “terminal groins,” hard structures to prevent erosion on beaches. However, terminal groins only protect roads and private property, not the beaches.
8. Coal Ash Management Act of 2014 (Became law without Gov. Pat McCrory’s signature)
Prohibits local governments from regulating coal ash. While sets a timeline for coal ash ponds to close, the timelines are long, prone to delays. Established the Coal Ash Management Commission, the appointment of which was later ruled unconstitutional.
Prohibits DEQ from passing environmental rules that are stricter than federal regulations.
Allows DEQ to start permitting fracking wells.
Deals a setback to wind and solar energy by prioritizing swine and poultry waste for renewable energy technology. Farms and logging operations could withdraw water beyond permitting requirements.
12. Implement Clean Power Plan (died in committee))
This legislation would have achieved the opposite. It would have forbidden any state agency from implementing the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, designed to more closely regulate and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
Forces DEQ to rank all but seven of the coal ash sites low priority, instead of all the sites being designated high or intermediate risk. This delays the deadline for cleanup of low priority sites. It also permanently eliminates the Coal Ash Commission, an oversight body.
14. Regulatory Reform Act of 2015 Rolls back protections of intermittent streams and certain wetlands; sets the stage for the discontinuation of TV recycling. Establishes immunity for owners and operators of facilities from civil and administrative penalties for a violation of environmental laws if those violations were disclosed voluntarily after an audit.
15. Military Operations Protection Act (died in committee)
Would inhibit wind power by adding regulatory requirements and approval not only from DEQ, but from the FAA.