Pressure Builds on Cooper to Answer Questions on Pipeline Scandal

RALEIGH – The clock is still running – it’s been months since questions about a pipeline permit approval and an associated $58 million personal slush fund for Gov. Roy Cooper have gone unanswered. While the governor is crossing his fingers that this all blows over, it appears that the pressure is only building for his administration to address the elephant in the room. The longer he waits, the bigger that elephant becomes, and the more impossible it becomes for even his media friends to ignore.

Hence, this being allowed publication in the Raleigh News & Observer editorial page, usually reserved for distributing the Left’s latest talking points.

“A legislative committee investigator will determine who did what with regard to Gov. Roy Cooper’s $57.8 million fund attached to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project. My concern is why. As a scientist and the state’s former chief environmental regulator, I fear the integrity of North Carolina’s environmental permitting process has been compromised. That’s unacceptable, no matter your position on environmental issues.

The Memorandum of Understanding places inordinate pressure on the Department of Environmental Quality to issue additional permits. It states $58 million will go to Cooper (and can be spent by DEQ) if the project receives all required approvals and is placed into service. Further, “In the event that…the project fails to obtain and maintain the state approvals or any other necessary permits (from DEQ)…the Governor of the State of North Carolina shall deliver…the mitigation funds…to Atlantic [Coast Pipeline].” The Memorandum of Understanding also seeks money for non-regulatory needs. Puzzling, since the pipeline will pay some $11 million to mitigate environmental damages as calculated under state and federal regulations.

Issuance of environmental permits should depend on whether a project meets requirements passed through the legislative process and public rule making. This Memorandum of Understanding leaves scientists and engineers responsible for reviewing permit applications in an untenable position.

Donald van der Vaart

Senior Fellow, John Locke Foundation

Former secretary, N.C. Department of Environmental Quality”

This letter to the editor was published, despite being critical of the medias political darling, because it couches the criticism in the nicest possible terms. To be sure, van der Vaart’s past role as DEQ leader gives him special insight into how precarious a position DEQ employees were put because of this corrupt deal, and that’s the concern he voices here.

But for those less interested in more than a mere letter to the editor, it’d be nice to see the state’s ‘elite’ journalists taking it upon themselves  to do the investigating and ask the hard questions. They pretended to be interested in answers, at first, when the revelations came to light, but dropped the issue as quickly as possible. There has been little no follow up questions of Cooper by his media friends since.

How about the media take the same gusto with which the investigated and reported upon former Gov. Pat McCrory and the coal ash spills, and apply that to Cooper and a conserably more worrisome allegation that he employed a pay-to-play scheme to bolster himself politically. Oh, but that would damage a Democrat, and the media tries to avoid that as much as they can.

Can they avoid it much longer?

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