A Blueprint for Corporate Control of Democracy

by Robert Gardner

February 7, 2013

Duke Energy Burns CoalSomething is happening in North Carolina that has profound repercussions for the rest of the country.

As we speak, Senate Bill 10 (SB 10) has passed the North Carolina Senate and will make its way to the House before it goes to the Governor, who has the option to veto or sign it. Thats nothing out of the usual, until you read the text of the bill.You see, SB 10 is a proposal to fire the members of several key policy-making and regulatory boards, 12 special Superior Court judges, the state Board of Elections Chairman. The effect of the bill is to get rid of all the appointees to these commissions, many appointed by previous Democratic administrations, and replace them with Republicans appointed by the Governor.

That includes the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC), which regulates Duke Energy, the largest power company in the country.

Remember, Governor Pat McCrory worked at Duke Energy for 28 years. Duke is North Carolinas only electric utility and is supposed to be regulated by some of the commissioners that this bill would fire. McCrory now stands to be the benefactor of an unprecedented power grab by the Republican Party.

At a time when Duke Energy is under siege their energy plans questioned by public staff, ongoing mobilizations around their rate hike requests, their investment plans questioned by credit rating companies, and their coal and nuclear plants shutting down their former employee just provided them a way out.

He will simply eliminate regulatory oversight from the equation.

Lets be clear, SB 10 is a corporate power grab by Duke Energy’s cronies in state government who want to gut the agencies that are supposed to be protecting North Carolina’s people and environment.

Thats not ok. But more to the point, it is clear that given the unprecedented losses of the tea party and other ultra-conservative and often corporate funded — groups at the federal level, they are trying now to radically re-shape power politics at the state level. First we saw the redistricting efforts in Virginia and now this power grab in North Carolina.

Im sure Art Pope (of Americans for Prosperity infamy) has had a say in this (he also funds McCrory and the tea party) and Im sure the Koch Brothers are watching. This is the new streamlined American democracy. Brought to you by the same people that are destroying our environment, our free press, and our democracy (think Citizens United).

I wont accept that. You shouldnt either. Their blueprint is clear — more power for polluters and less power for people.

If you live in North Carolina, and are facing this threat, call your state assembly person immediately and tell them to vote against this corporate power grab. Or click here to tell the Governor not to sign this dangerous bill into law.

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