The other night I went to the Nicholas School of the Environment for a panel discussion on environmental public policy in North Carolina, and what some of our leaders thought of the changes in administration, and the burning issues related to NC and the environment. You can go to the Nicholas School website to see a webcast of the discussion. I am very interested in public policy, how laws are enacted and changed, along with how programs get funded on a federal, state, and local level. I am always amazed at the high level of funding for certain programs, and none for others. (The Scrap Exchange receives very little public funding, and I think our budget should be triple what it is, along with having a waste recovery and resource system in place for other counties and cities in North Carolina and beyond).
Some topics that were touched on were: drought, offshore drilling, smart growth , open spaces, farmland preservation, statewide reduction goals for greenhouse gas emissions, ozone layer depletion, and climate change just to name a few. I was waiting for someone to mention waste reduction/conservation of resources, etc.
Ellen Reckhow, Durham County Commissioner, gave a shout out to Clean Energy Durham for their grassroots efforts of going house to house to reduce energy consumption. And a refreshing yet depressing attitude was from a gentleman by the name of Ernest Carl, who informed the audience that the suggestions of the other panelists would be “dead on arrival” and nothing would happen for the next 5 years due to the budget crunch. I just love the fact that he did not sugar coat anything, and was not even hopeful.
Our organization will be watching these issues and what the new administration is up to. I have to say, The Scrap Exchange has reached out to the county and the city for funding (by applying for grants), and has been horribly disappointed by the amount of support we have not received (we did receive limited funding from the City if Durham, but nothing from the County). So we hope that all this talk of going green isn't just talk and translates into some green for environmentally sustainable programs like The Scrap Exchange.
Meanwhile, 260 tons of municipal solid waste are being thrown away daily in Durham County daily (over 290,000 tons annually), and teachers are spending their own money on resources.
We are going to need some partners if we are going to move ahead on both of these issues.