Duke Dilemma: Can utility companies be clean and safe and keep costs down?

by J. J. Summerell
Chair, Libertarian Party of North Carolina

While I'm no apologist for Duke Energy, I understand the dilemma the company faces in responding to the Dan River coal-ash spill.

Because we must buy electricity, and Duke Energy is virtually the state’s only provider, it is a natural monopoly. Why would it have faced any financial barriers to ensuring the environmental safety of its power plants and transmission facilities? Microeconomics theory indicates that Duke could have easily raised prices to cover the costs of environmental-protection measures.

That didn't happen because Duke operates in a contradictory regulatory environment. 

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There's a Third Option in the Fracking Debate

by J.J. Summerell
Chair, Libertarian Party of North Carolina

The General Assembly just rushed through a bill essentially lifting the moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in North Carolina, even before the rules being drafted by a state appointed commission to regulate the process have had a public hearing.

Many people are adamantly opposed to this, while others are just as certain that this is essential for our state's economic development. Partisans on both sides of the issue have, and probably will continue to, talk past one other, rather than honestly and reasonably discuss the merits or dangers associated with the process This seems another clear case where petty partisan politics gets in the way of good government.

Even for those of us who believe in property rights and the free market, and who oppose unnecessary government regulation and interference in the economy, some provisions of the Senate bill are troubling.

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Free the Vote Freedom Act

Call to Action from Free the Vote NC

It is time to take action to get HB 794, the Voter Freedom Act of 2013, released from the Senate Rules Committee. If we don't act soon, the bill will die and we'll have to start all over again in January 2015 to reform North Carolina's highly restrictive ballot access laws. 

As you may recall, in order to keep HB 794 during the last legislative session, we agreed to have it converted into a study bill. That effort was successful. The bill passed the House with a overwhelming 109-5 bipartisan vote. 

But once it got to the state Senate, it was sent to the Rules Committee where it has languished ever since. 

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