Environment

North Carolina’s First Congressional District is one of the most beautiful and pristine Congressional districts in the nation.  Over the long term, the value of having a beautiful and pristine environment will accrue much value to the residents of the district.  As such, it is imperative that our environment be protected from environmental degradation and any current degradation be repaired.

As a Libertarian, I believe in maximizing returns on investment.  In the case of the environment, two questions immediately emerge: returns to whom and with costs to whom?  These become interesting questions and I’ll attempt to answer them by addressing what I consider to be the three most important environmental concerns in District 1.

FRACKING

This is clearly a return on investment calculation, both the financial and environmental returns. Let’s look at three aspects of the situation:

Revenue. The price of natural gas has fallen to historic lows recently. Why would we extract and sell our natural gas at historically low prices when we could wait for higher prices?

Expenses. Fracking is a technology. In general, technology comes down in price over time. Why extract our natural gas now if we could wait and extract it at less cost in the future? If there is environmental degradation, who will pay to clean it up?

Environmental Risks. These are unknown. Why not let other states experiment for a few years, thereby letting the other states shoulder the environmental risks?

We have the opportunity to maximize returns on these resources by gifting them to future generations, thereby mitigating our environmental risks. Sounds like a win-win-win to me.

WATER QUALITY

In 2016, coal ash is the water pollutant most in the news. Duke Energy has numerous HUGE coal ash ponds around the state, two in District 1. Coal ash can be safely disposed of, but at a cost. The North Carolina Rate Board (the state agency which controls electricity rates) needs to grant the increase necessary to cover the cost of eliminating this environmental exposure. Otherwise, this cost is simply externalize; that is, paid for by someone other than the consumers of the electricity.

Water quality in District goes well beyond coal ash disposal. From the trout waters in the mountains to the bass lakes in the Piedmont to the flounder and spottail estuaries, water quality in our state and our district is high and we need to ensure it stays that way. As our friends in California run out of water and our friends in Michigan drink lead-laden water, the value of our water resources is constantly increasing.

RECREATIONAL AND COMMERCIAL FISHING

Fishing is a large commercial venture in North Carolina. From the trout farms in the state’s western counties to bass tournaments in the lakes of the piedmont to the commercial fishing operations all along our coast, fishing is important to our economy. Our declining fish stocks are alarming and unsustainable. The commercial fishermen blame the recreational fishermen and the recreational fishermen blame the commercial fishermen. Who is correct? They both are! Who owns these fish? What is the cost of a fish? How do we manage our fish stocks most effectively and efficiently? Our government has done little to address these issues and I intend to address them directly.

Resources

Mother Nature's Invisible Hand Strikes Back Against the Carbon Economy
Externalization of Costs
What are Externalized Costs?
NC Sues EPA for failing to act in northeastern states' air pollution dispute
NC's Air Quality - Clean Air Carolina

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