Tell NC: Art Pope Must Go!

  • by: Susan V
  • target: Gov. McCrory and UNC Board of Governors
UPDATE; MSNBC exposes NC's hegemony and Art Pope's influence.

Multi-millionaire Art Pope has turned NC into a red state run by climate change deniers and renewable energy subverters - intent on reversing any progress NC has made on clean energy, as well as human, civil and labor rights.

"Pope's money was so decisive" in the 2010 state legislature elections, says Facing South's Chris Kromm, that Democrats refer to NC's new GOP leadership as "bought and paid for" by Pope.

Pope heavily supports ALEC's task force of climate-science denying groups like Americans for Prosperity and the John Locke Foundation. Another group he backs, American Tradition Institute, joined other climate-science deniers with ties to the fossil-fuel industry in presenting misinformation about wind power to a small group of legislators - all Republicans - months before they voted FOR fracking. These groups are bent on discrediting wind power in particular and using underhanded tactics to do so.

Pope is not only financing this war against renewables, he's supporting attacks on scientists whose research supports global warming. And Pope didn't just contribute heavily to candidates that back conservative, oil, and coal interests, he financed racist and slanderous smear campaigns against Democratic candidates - remininsent of white supremacy tactics used in 1898 and during Jim Crow. 

But despite Pope's questionable ethics, his actions have not only not been widely publicized or condemned, they've won him an important seat on Pat McCrory's cabinet and an appointment to UNC's Advisory Committee.

Tell Gov. McCrory and the UNC Board of Governors that these appointments are unacceptable. Pope Must Go!

We, the undersigned, are outraged that the University of North Carolina and the newly elected governor of North Carolina would reward a man with Art Pope's reputation by putting him in charge of spending and academic priorities at UNC and in charge of the state's budget.

McCrory's gratitude toward Pope should be no surprise, however his appointment of Pope as budget director is a shock, Chris Kromm told Huffington Post.

And it's not just partisan politics speaking when NC's Democratic Party spokesman Clay Pittman commented that "It appears that a full-scale Pay-to-Play system has taken hold of the executive branch, where special interests, high-dollar donors, and the leaders of the right wing will have control of the Governor’s Mansion." There's plenty of evidence on Kromm's website (Art Pope Exposed) and in reports byThe Guardian, The New Yorker, Greenpeace's Polluter Watch and other sources to back up his statement.

Governor McCrory's and Pope's connections to Duke Energy and Duke Energy's duplicitous stance on renewables and connections with ALEC make Pope's appointment even more outrageous. Greenpeace has noted repeatedly that even though Duke CEO "Jim Rogers says we must wean off foreign oil," Duke conspires with multinational oil companies to attack climate solutions."

Along with McCrory's other industry-friendly appointments, including even the head the state's Dept of Environment and Natural Resources, his appointment of Pope has completed a circle of top appointees that will certainly work to undermine efforts towards protecting NC's environment and supporting renewable energy - among other regressive actions - and undermine the health of NC citizens.

Just as disturbing is Pope's appointment to UNC, especially considering his involvement with groups like ATI that are harassing scientists at other universities who support the science on climate change and global warming. It also seems hypocritical for a University that has prided itself on "going green" to welcome someone with Pope's connections to dirty energy.

Gov McCrory said at his inauguration ceremony last week that "Government should not be a barricade or an obstacle to progress." But that depends on what you consider progress. For most people it doesn't mean going backwards, distorting the facts or buying our government.

This excerpt from Facing South's report on Pope-supported anti-wind presentations speaks volumes about the seriousness of these appointments.

Bakst opened the Dec. 5 forum at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington with a broadside attack on Senate Bill 3, a North Carolina law passed in 2007 that made the state the first in the Southeast to adopt a minimum requirement for the use of renewable energy sources by investor-owned electric utilities. The law requires that 12.5 percent of all electricity sold in the state by 2025 come from renewable sources such as wind and solar or from improved energy efficiency. Bakst dismissed the law as an "energy tax."

"Who gets hurt the most when energy prices are very high? I'll tell you who gets hurt the most -- the poor get hurt the most," he said, ignoring the fact that low-income communities are disproportionately impacted by coal power and climate disruption, and that North Carolina utilities are seeking substantial rate hikes to pay for coal and nuclear plants.

"Don't tell me these coal plants … are causing a problem," he said -- ignoring the fact that last year alone the nation's 100 top-polluting coal plants reported releasing over 194 million pounds of toxic chemicals to the air and another 2 million pounds to surface waters, and that fossil-fuel plants are the leading source of U.S. carbon emissions. And though Schnare holds a master's in public health from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, he didn't acknowledge any of coal's well-documented public health impacts. He also dismissed concerns about mountaintop removal, saying mining companies leave the sites in good condition -- when in fact scientific studies have found that mountaintop removal causes severe environmental damages that are "pervasive and irreversible." 

In light of the facts presented by Facing South and other investigative reports on Pope's questionable ethics and his support of misinformation that could have very serious adverse effects on North Carolinians and the environment, we request that both the governor and UNC either dismiss Art Pope or call for his resignation.

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