- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Recent editorials from North Carolina newspapers:

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Jan. 22

The Fayetteville Observer on lawmakers’ attack on a wind farm:

There they go again. North Carolina legislative leaders have stepped up their jihad against alternative energy once more, this time taking aim at a wind farm on the North Carolina coast that will power Amazon “cloud” storage facilities.



In a letter to the Trump administration’s incoming Homeland Security secretary, the leaders of the N.C. House and Senate, along with other key Republican lawmakers, ask the feds to shut down Amazon’s wind farm in Pasquotank and Perquimans counties. They say it will interfere with a military over-the-horizon radar system nearby.

Only one problem: The Navy says it doesn’t have any problem with the wind farm, that it won’t interfere with its radar. Further, the contractor building the wind farm, which is near completion, has worked closely with the Navy to prevent problems.

The Navy is also the leading American military force in adopting alternative energy, which it sees as essential in a world where global warming is an increasing geopolitical threat and where unstable nations can easily disrupt the flow of conventional energy supplies.

At least Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore are being consistent. They also were instrumental in killing this state’s successful solar-energy support program, which had helped North Carolina become the No. 2 state in the country in solar development. Solar farms created thousands of new jobs and brought revenue to failing farms fighting the decline in tobacco and cotton. But now the industry is moving into neighboring states, which acted quickly to attract the solar industry with incentives of their own.

Instead, our lawmakers tried mightily to open this state to the petroleum industry, hoping our comparatively minuscule reserves of shale gas would attract “fracking.” So far, no interest.

This does show us how shortsighted our legislative leadership is. For a host of reasons, our energy future is in the sky, not under the ground. The coal industry is dying fast. Many energy companies acknowledge that natural gas is only a bridge to the wind and solar era - energy sources that are already close to competitive with conventional power.

Developing solar and wind resources - and the next generation of super batteries to store their power - is our future. We wish North Carolina’s elected leaders could understand that and give up on their dogged attempts to send us back to the 20th century.

The world is changing, and for a while, we were helping lead it. We’d like to get back to that position.

Online: https://www.fayobserver.com/

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Jan. 22

The Winston-Salem Journal on UNC President Margaret Spellings’ comments on HB2:

It’s not enough that House Bill 2, the hastily-passed, continually-embarrassing and seemingly-indestructible discrimination bill passed into law by our Republican-dominated state legislature, has turned millions of dollars’ worth of business investments away from us. Now we learn it’s damaging our university system, too.

Academic candidates have ruled out accepting jobs in our university system because of HB2, University of North Carolina system President Margaret Spellings recenlty told The Associated Press. She added that she’s unaware of any academic talent embracing a move to North Carolina because of the law.

“I know people have withdrawn their candidacy,” Spellings told the AP during an interview Wednesday. “But how many? To what effect? Were they not coming anyway? We’ll never know.”

The UNC system, with about 220,000 students, is a defendant in a lawsuit filed on behalf of transgender students and university employees. The plaintiffs say requiring them to use restrooms that don’t match their gender identity is discriminatory.

Spellings has said the campuses must obey the law, but won’t change any policies or enforce the bathroom requirements, the AP reported.

“We’re in a competitive world and our competitors have used this issue against us to some extent,” Spellings told the AP. She’s worked as education secretary for President George W. Bush and was tapped for her current post by the GOP legislature. She is no mushy liberal.

Spellings continued: “If I’m in Georgia and I’m in a competitive bidding war for a world-class faculty member, I’m going to say, if this is a transgender or gay person, ‘Is this an environment where you’re going to live and work?’ So I think anecdotally there’s some of that going on.”

The law’s defenders have offered various specious arguments, such as the need to protect people from being molested in bathrooms by men posing as transgender women.

Never mind the notion of denying a right to a citizen because of how someone else might misuse it - apply that logic to gun ownership for an instant - the claim is ridiculous, considering how rare and inconsequential such incidents are. They’re always isolated, committed by some idiot, and they always end with arrest and prosecution.

In the meantime, hate crimes against transgender individuals are on the increase, according to FBI statistics. They’re the ones who need the protection.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, similar legislation is pending in five states. It has already been rejected in 14 other states, including some on the right side of the spectrum, like Kansas and South Carolina. More than half the states know better than to even attempt the mistake our legislature made. Ours is the only state that has passed such a stringent regulation.

Gov. Roy Cooper said last week that he continues to discuss repeal with leaders of the legislature, the AP reported.

We know our legislature can be stubborn. But we’re far past “enough.” End this madness, legislators.

Online: https://www.journalnow.com/

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Jan. 23

The News & Observer of Raleigh on how driverless cars could help traffic on NC 540:

OK, we’ll get to the punchline in a minute.

But here’s the story: The N.C. Turnpike Authority must be a pretty creative group, because out of 60 applications for a special project with the U.S. Department of Transportation, it was chosen.

The project: To have the N.C. 540 Triangle Expressway toll road be one of 10 testing sites around the country for driverless car technology. The road, which connects the Research Triangle Park with Cary, Apex and Holly Springs, will be ready for testing as of January of next year. Still to be determined is whether roads will be closed or if the driverless cars will tour along in traffic with those that have drivers.

And from the Authority executive director comes these encouraging words: “We will not do anything to compromise the safety of our customers or the reliability of their commute.”

Well, OK. It is true, by the way, that no laws exist to govern driverless cars. Understandable for obvious reasons. A driverless car will presumably not change lanes without signaling. A driverless car will not take its eye off the road to grab a spilled coffee out of the floorboard. A driverless car will not daydream or lose attention to changing the radio stations.

Finally, a driverless care will not talk on a cell phone or text while driving.

Hmmmm … maybe we should clear all the roads for the experiment. Permanently.

Online: https://www.newsobserver.com/

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