North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory Has Deep Ties to the Fossil Fuel Industry

by Michael Zytkow

October 11, 2016

With Hurricane Matthew claiming lives and causing record flooding across the Southeast, North Carolinians need to elect a governor who will act on climate and protect people, not polluters.

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory

Governor Pat McCrory (R-NC). Photo by Hal Goodtree / Flickr.

Hal Goodtree

Hurricane Matthew has recently devastated the Southeastern United States, including causing record flooding in my home state of North Carolina. Our reliance on fossil fuels is driving climate change and increasing the strength and frequency of extreme weather events like Matthew, and we need leaders that are going to take action — not sit back and deny the science of climate change while their constituents suffer.

That’s why voters across North Carolina are demanding that our Gubernatorial candidates — Republican incumbent Pat McCrory and Democratic challenger Roy Cooper — protect people, not polluters.

Cooper has expressed support for renewable energy and claims he would have handled the state’s coal ash crisis differently but has not offered specifics. He also has been unclear regarding his stance on natural gas and fracking.

In contrast, Governor McCrory has a track record of supporting the interests of fossil fuel companies. He has repeatedly dodged questions regarding his climate stance — refusing to acknowledge the scientific consensus around climate change.

On Face the Nation he stated, “I feel that there’s always been climate change. The debate is, really, how much of it is man-made and how much will it cost to have any impact on climate change.”

The cost of climate change, to answer McCrory’s question, is more the flooding and displacement we are experiencing in North Carolina right now. This weekend’s hurricane-wrought destruction is a sign of what is to come if we do not reverse course away from fossil fuels.

Instead of taking bold action to fight climate change and protect North Carolinians from more damaging extreme weather, McCrory has continued to support fossil fuel profits over the interests of the public.

Governor McCrory’s Fossil Fuel Ties

McCrory has a long, documented relationship with Duke Energy — the largest investor-owned utility in the country — both as a stockholder and former 28-year employee. The McCrory administration has worked to dramatically expand the natural gas industry in North Carolina, and he supports the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (partially owned by Duke) and Atlantic Drilling for Gas.

All of this aligns with Duke’s long term plan to construct more gas plants, pipelines, and merge with Piedmont Natural Gas.

Less publicized are McCrory’s strong ties to three other groups working for the expansion of the gas industry.

1. Americans for Prosperity (AFP)

AFP, founded by the Koch brothers, supports expanded oil and gas drilling. McCrory served as spokesman for AFP from 2009 to 2011, headlining a North Carolina bus tour and recording automated phone messages. His 2012 campaign benefitted from $13,000 in independent expenditures from AFP.

2. Outer Continental Shelf Governors Coalition

McCrory joined the Outer Continental Shelf Governor’s Coalition weeks after taking office in 2013. He became the chair in 2014 and has become a leading spokesperson for its pro-drilling agenda. The coalition comprises coastal governors who seek to expand offshore oil and gas drilling. Through the coalition, McCrory has advocated for opening North Carolina’s coast to offshore drilling. He has also worked with other Coalition governors like Nikki Haley (R-SC) and Terry McAuliffe (D-VA) to press for the opening of essentially the entire East Coast to offshore drilling.

The coalition is more than just a group of governors. According to investigative reporter Suer Sturgis, the group “is largely run and managed by two groups tied to the oil and gas industry […] HBW Resources, a corporate lobbying and public relations firm representing some of the nation’s biggest energy interests, and the company’s sister group the Consumer Energy Alliance, a ‘dark money’ non-profit organization that doesn’t have to disclose its backers.”

3. Moore & Van Allen

Finally, McCrory was employed as a senior director of strategic initiatives for Moore & Van Allen from 2010 to 2012. Moore & Van Allen is a legal and lobbying firm in Charlotte, North Carolina representing energy industry clients. It has led a “targeted educational effort” to promote offshore drilling in the Carolinas.

According to its website, it has “worked with clients to secure appointments to legislative study committees” on this issues. Moore & Van Allen represented Duke and Piedmont during the merger proceedings before the North Carolina Utilities Commission whose members are appointed by McCrory.

 

It’s clear that McCrory has a long history of going to bat for fossil fuel interests before and after he was elected governor. But as governor, he has been able to do significantly more damage — and it’s the people of North Carolina that are suffering the consequences in the form of climate-fueled superstorms like Hurricane Matthew.

This November, North Carolinians will decide whether they believe McCrory has acted in their best interest.

Michael Zytkow

By Michael Zytkow

Michael Zytkow is a field organizer in North Carolina.

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