When polluters do not pay, we all pay instead. Cleaning our air of mercury, carbon dioxide and methane will grow the economy, create jobs and protect our natural resources for the next generation of North Carolinians. Mercury contamination of fish already prevents many North Carolinians from safely eating many of the fish which grow in our state’s waters. Carbon dioxide and methane pollution are disrupting our climate through the greenhouse effect. Methane pollution could be captured for liquid fuel instead of leaking from wells, pipes and swine waste pits. Carbon dioxide can be reduced, by powering more of our homes, schools and businesses with the sun’s abundant energy. In fact, North Carolina is a national leader in all these areas, but the fossil fuel industry boosters would rather keep us addicted to their products. We need federal and state solar tax relief extended to keep this trend going and to give homeowners and businesses the freedom to choose energy sources which do not pollute our air and water.
Mercury damages nerves and the brain. Many wild fish caught in North Carolina’s waters are now high in mercury due to air pollution from coal-fired power plants. As obsolete fossil fuel-fired plants have been retired under North Carolina’s Clean Smokestacks Act, our air emissions of mercury have been reduced as well, but not enough to make our fish safe to eat. In addition, EPA’s proposed mercury rule will help protect North Carolina from pollution generated by coal-fired plants in states south and west of us. Women and children are advised not to eat some wild-caught fish at all, including many popular fish like largemouth bass, yellow perch and wild-caught catfish. Adult men are advised that they should eat no more than six ounces of these fish per week, a filet about the size of a single fast food fish sandwich portion.
Energy from the Sun hits Earth each day sufficient to meet all our current energy needs, but harnessing it has been technically and economically challenging, until now. Many solar opponents base opposition on old data regarding solar power’s costs. Many of these opponents are funded by fossil fuel industry backers like the Koch brothers, such as the Beacon Hill Institute. Solar power is saving people money in North Carolina and creating jobs, thanks to the Renewable Energy and Efficiency Portfolio Standard and to tax relief offered to businesses and homeowners who install solar. Private business installation is on the rise and costs are coming down.
While North Carolina is enjoying a solar revolution, the fossil fuel industry is fighting back, hoping to keep us addicted to fossil fuels. Allowing the solar energy tax credit to expire at the end of 2015 will increase taxes on those who install solar panels on their homes and businesses. Solar tax relief will keep this boom going in North Carolina. Many principled conservatives understand the value of energy choice and support solar tax relief. North Carolina’s successful solar policies have inspired conservative legislatures in other southern states to promote solar energy as well. North Carolina’s solar industry can help us save money, clean up our air and water and create high tech jobs.