Shameful Tactics On Veto Override
D espite secret deals, questionable tactics and back-room arm-twisting, Republican legislative leaders in Raleigh can at least claim that two of last Monday's three late-night overrides of Gov. Beverly Perdue's vetoes were arrived at fair and square.
But surely nobody can claim that those words apply to the third override, the details of which again qualified North Carolina for national ridicule - as if we needed any more of that in the wake of such embarrassing episodes as the one in which it was ordered that our state will officially ignore any predictions of future rises in sea level, despite overwhelming scientific consensus to the contrary.
The subject of the third veto override, giving the go-ahead to that troubling method of natural gas extraction known as "fracking," is of extremely high interest to Moore County and a couple of its neighbor counties to the north, since we sit atop shale-oil deposits that make us a prime target for that environmentally threatening procedure.
A Simple Mistake
As for the grossly unfair tactic that House Republicans used to get their way, it went like this:
Rep. Becky Carney, a Democrat from Mecklenburg County, was against fracking, which meant she was against an earlier bill authorizing its use in North Carolina. That meant she was in favor of Perdue's veto of that bill, which meant she was against overriding that veto. Given that confusing situation and the lateness of the hour, Carney ended up voting "yes" when she meant to vote "no."
Given the circumstances, and the fact that the GOP leaders were already ahead of the game, you would think they might have taken the gentlemanly course of taking another vote, just to make sure that all members were expressing themselves as they intended to. And you would be wrong.
Though Carney burst into tears and had to be consoled by colleagues when she realized what she had done, leaders claimed that the vote had to stand. House rules, they said, specified that a member can change his or her vote only if it doesn't make a difference in the final result.
Though that sounds backward to us, perhaps it is so. Still, what do you bet that the leaders wouldn't have found a way around that silly rule if doing so had swung the vote in the other direction?
Vigilance Is in Order
It has been clear all along that there is no massive public outcry in favor of rushing into the highly questionable fracking process, which involves the massive trucking-in of water and spiking it with still-unidentified chemicals before forcing it underground under high pressure to blast pockets of gas loose from their shale deposits. The agitation to pass this legislation came mostly, of course, from corporate interests.
Though some roadblocks have now been removed, a massive fracking rush seems unlikely any time soon, especially given the steep recent declines in natural gas prices.
Still, Perdue was right to veto the bill, which she said didn't have enough safeguards to help North Carolina keep from repeating some of the nightmare scenes that have been reported from states like Pennsylvania and North Dakota, where fracking has polluted groundwater and created massive disruptions in the lives of nearby residents.
That's the last thing we need here. Locally, extreme vigilance should still be our watchword.
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