For decades, while protecting polluters, industry and government officials have attempted and often successfully portrayed environmentalists as educated wing-nuts who hug trees, drink lattes, oppose economic development, and embarrass themselves while singing “We Shall Overcome.”

By portraying environmentalists as fringe socialists, the goal of industry polluters and their profiteering political backers is to diminish the credibility of environmental advocates, to distance the masses from environmental causes, and to breed apathy in the minds and hearts of voters who look for any reason not to get involved in environmental politics.

Meanwhile, as polluters and politicians lead their constituents away from seriously considering sticky environmental issues, they rally their supporters around politically safer issues related to family values, patriotism, jobs, and less government.

Here in North Carolina, such negative portrayal of environmental advocates has been happening for decades, though now the portrayal is far worse than ever as the McCrory Administration and his legislative posse take over as a band of marauders pretending to protect the state with “regulatory reform” that they hope will “rebrand the state as more business friendly.” (see: The North Carolina Coastal Federation News, 1.9.14)

Their method of making North Carolina more business-friendly is to pave the way for industries looking for places to locate where there are reduced costs from pollution-friendly laws, lax regulations and enforcement, less liability, and a political culture willing to throw its own people under the bus.

Now, according to the North Carolina Coastal Federation News, a state commission on rules is meeting to review its own rules, which means the fox is guarding the hen house.  In fact, the rules commission will be able to revise and repeal environmental rules that have been on the books for years and that took years to pass, and the commission will be able to write new rules that are more polluter-friendly than ever.

The Republican McCrory philosophy of big-government getting out the way of industry is really a ruse for big industry getting in the way of the people.  It is a philosophy that calculates economic prosperity and jobs on the profit margins of corporations and not on the uncalculated costs of pollution that destroys the environment, natural resources, and public health.  It is a philosophy based on skewed facts, politicized science, faulty logic, and outright deception.

North Carolinians have only to look to Charleston, West Virginia, to see where the McCrory Administration is taking this state. The recent leaking of a dangerous toxic chemical into the water supply of nine counties and more than 300,000 people — a leak that could have been prevented if there had been rules and regulations which required safety inspections of such chemical storage tanks  — clearly shows how when safety measures and oversight are minimal and non-existent, dangerous and possibly lethal consequences are inevitable.

Surely, we can’t depend on our government  to protect us. In fact, what we can depend on is that our government will hurt us.  So, the only choice we have as responsible citizens and defenders of our children and their children’s future is to become citizen watchdogs over industries in our own communities.