Jay Chaudhuri is a champion for North Carolina's environment. In the State Senate, he will crack down on the big coal companies that pollute our rivers and air - and will work to combat climate change by making clean, renewable energy like wind and solar more accessible and affordable for North Carolina families and businesses.
PROTECTING OUR ENVIRONMENT AND CREATING GREEN JOBS
As a native Southerner and someone who grew up in North Carolina, Jay has always treasured our State’s natural resources – from the coast and its magnificent sounds to the majestic Smoky Mountains. Unfortunately, much stress has been placed on our unique natural resources, most notably by climate change.
Here’s a fact agreed upon by an overwhelming majority of scientists: climate change is real, and humans are the primary cause of it. Here’s another fact: 15 out of the last 16 warmest years on record, including 2015 as the warmest year, have occurred since 2001. Our General Assembly has only made matters worse: In 2011, our legislative body literally passed a law that outlawed climate change science. If our State fails to act now, we will soon find parts of our treasured coast underwater.
Jay will fight to protect our environment because he wants to make sure that he leaves the same natural resources and beauty of the State behind to his children that he experienced growing up here. Jay will push for real, sustainable policies because he believes that climate change’s challenges present a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create new green jobs.
JAY HAS A TRACK RECORD ON THE ENVIRONMENT:
- As a citizen, Jay served on the Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Advisory Board. During his six-year term, Jay served on the City of Raleigh’s twenty-year vision planning committee and the Moore Square Public Leadership Committee.
- As General Counsel & Senior Policy Advisor to State Treasurer Janet Cowell, he carried out the first-ever environmental risk assessment of the pension fund. Jay partnered with the Nicholas Institute on Environmental Policy at Duke University and CERES, a non-profit advocating for sustainability leadership, to understand how the pension fund’s real estate holdings incorporated climate risk into their investment analysis.
- As General Counsel & Senior Policy Advisor to State Treasurer Janet Cowell, he led a group of pension funds to take on the CEO of one of the worst environmental corporate polluters. In April 2010, after the nation’s worst coal mining accident in 40 years, Jay organized a group of 11 public pension funds that called for the resignation of board members and the CEO/Chairman of Massey Energy. By the end of that year, the CEO/Chair Don Blankenship – referred to by one publication as the “dark lord of coal country” – and a board member had stepped down. Today, these public pension funds’ efforts are viewed as a national model of shareholder engagement.
AS STATE SENATOR, JAY WILL:
PROTECT OUR STATE’S ENVIRONMENT
- Hold utility companies accountable to clean up coal ash basins quickly. The Dan River coal ash spill, the third largest in American history, underscores the immediate importance for our State to make sure we clean up the 32 coal ash ponds. Jay will fight to make sure that we hold utility companies accountable to clean up these coal ash ponds as quickly as possible. Furthermore, Jay will push to make sure that such coal ash be completely removed from the unlined ponds away from groundwater.
- Restore funding to North Carolina’s land conservation trust funds to ensure parks, waterways and greenways become the priorities they deserve. Since the Republicans have controlled the General Assembly, they have cut funding for the State’s parks, waterways and greenways by hundreds of millions of dollars. Jay will fight to restore funding to these trust funds.
- Fight the Republican State Senate and Department of Environmental Quality who wish to opt out of and legally challenge President Obama’s Clean Power Plan. In August 2014, President Barack Obama put in place the Clean Power Plan (CPP), a plan the New York Times described as the “the strongest action ever taken by an American president to tackle climate change.” Specifically, the CPP seeks to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 32 percent by 2030. Most importantly, the CPP is flexible, allowing each State to use their own emission reduction mix to meet their carbon dioxide goals.
Unfortunately, the State Senate, working closely with the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), pushed for a proposal that required the State of North Carolina to sue the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the federal agency responsible for implementing the CPP. Furthermore, the State Senate’s proposal would have limited any state agency from expending resources to develop a State plan in compliance with the CPP.
While the State Senate proposal did not pass, in October DEQ joined 23 other states to file suit against the EPA’s CPP. Jay will fight the Republican State Senate and DEQ, who wish to opt out of and legally challenge the Clean Power Plan.
- Protect our coast by opposing Governor McCrory’s offshore oil drilling push. Due to federal action, oil drilling in the Atlantic Ocean has been prohibited since 1982. However, in 2015, the federal government said it would consider offshore oil drilling in the South with a 50-mile buffer. Governor McCrory has gone further by criticizing the federal buffer; rather, he’s pushing for a shorter buffer of just 30 miles. Jay will fight to oppose offshore oil drilling because he believes such drilling forgets the economic, environmental, and public health disaster of BP Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico that cost those communities more than $100 billion in economic losses. Moreover, Jay will fight to oppose offshore oil drilling because he believes we should focus our energy policies on developing new energy technologies that, in turn, create new green jobs.
CREATE NEW GREEN JOBS
- Maintain and grow our State’s emerging solar industry. Our State’s tax credits and mandate for utility companies to use more renewable energy have boosted North Carolina as a top four state for installed solar capacity and second in the country for large, utility-like projects. Our State’s approach has resulted in more than 23,000 jobs and $3 billion in investments. As Hugh McColl, former Chair and CEO of Bank of America, opined last year, these solar tax credits “could make our North Carolina the next Silicon Valley” in clean energy. Unfortunately, the Republican General Assembly elected to eliminate the solar tax credit despite this new job growth. Jay will fight to maintain and grow our State’s solar industry by pushing for restoration of such tax credits and protecting renewable energy portfolio standards.
- Create opportunities for residents, churches, universities, and military to have access to solar energy. Currently, North Carolina is one of only five states in which consumers are required to purchase power from the utility company that serves their community. Last year, with bipartisan and business support, the Energy Freedom Act was introduced in the General Assembly to change that. The Energy Freedom Act would shift the choice from the utility company to the consumers. The North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association calls this legislation a “game changer” because more competition leads to more renewable energy projects and ultimately more clean energy jobs. Jay will actively support the Energy Freedom Act in the State Senate.