North Carolina editorial roundup
Recent editorials from North Carolina newspapers:
The News & Record of Greensboro on legislative opposition to wind farms:
Counties in northeastern North Carolina are making real progress in developing wind energy. Unfortunately, the Republicans who control the state legislature are doing all they can to put the brakes on that progress.
Pasquotank and Perquimans counties are home to the Amazon Wind Farm, with 104 turbines capable of powering 61,000 homes. The developer of that wind farm is working on plans to develop an offshore wind project near Kitty Hawk.
This should be good news for North Carolina, and beyond. It makes sense for the United States to develop green energy rather than relying heavily on carbon-based fuels. The supplies of coal, oil and gas are dwindling fast, and burning them is polluting our air and contributing to climate change, with all its bad effects.
For the people in the rural, poor areas in the northeastern part of the state, green energy projects can be a real boon. Farmers get needed income by leasing some of their land to wind farms and solar farms. Often, those leases make it possible for the farmers to continue farming rather than selling their land for development. And the energy projects mean jobs for some local people.
But Republican legislators keep trying to block development of wind farms.
Earlier this year, a bill was introduced in the state Senate to ban wind farms permanently in areas where they might be in conflict with military bases. When that bill stalled, it was rewritten as a three-year moratorium on new wind energy projects. That bill recently passed the Senate, but legislators were already saying they would probably rewrite it yet again.
The sponsors call the bill the Military Base Protection Act. They say they are trying to make sure that wind turbines don’t cause problems in flight paths around military bases. They talk about interfering with national security, as well as putting military bases in North Carolina in jeopardy if there is another round of base closings. Opponents of wind farms have also said the ones in northeastern North Carolina might interfere with military radar just across the state line in Hampton Roads, Va.
But the Pentagon has said more than once that the wind farms pose no threat to national security. The military has a process in place for reviewing wind farm proposals and recommending any needed changes, and it’s handling it just fine without this kind of help from North Carolina’s legislators.
The Pentagon also has other, bigger-picture worries. Sea-level rise related to climate change is a real threat to national security at Navy and military bases along the Virginia and North Carolina coasts, for example, and the military is working to move away from heavy dependence on fossil fuels. Green energy development can help.
Some of the same legislators who are so opposed to wind farms have been supporters of the fossil fuel industry.
On the federal level, the Trump administration is pushing coal and fossil fuels and doing little or nothing to promote clean energy.
The battle over wind energy has moved largely into the states.
A three-year moratorium on new wind energy projects in North Carolina could be almost as devastating to the promising new industry as an outright ban. Companies will look to other, more welcoming states rather than waiting to see what happens here.
Once again, North Carolina’s legislators will be dragging the state back into the past, at the expense of us all.
The Winston-Salem Journal on how to avoid snakebites:
It sounds like the makings of a creepy summer blockbuster: Venomous snake bites are on the rise in North Carolina, according to Dr. Michael Beuhler, the medical director of North Carolina Poison Control. His office received 62 calls related to snake bikes between January and April, when the average for that period in previous years has been 37. That’s about a 67% increase, Beuhler said in a post to Atrium Health’s “Daily Dose” blog.
But though the news will be a bit frightening for some, there’s no need to panic — just be appropriately cautious. And do be aware that snake bites can happen anywhere, not just in the wild. “A surprising amount of bites were also found in urban areas,” Beuhler said. “Anyone can be bitten just about anywhere.” He recounted incidents of people being bitten while doing yard work or while walking through their driveway.
And he does mean anyone. Forty percent of the bite patients were either 60 and over or under 18.
There’s no definitive explanation for why snake bites have increased, but several factors could help explain why, according to Beuhler. They include the wet winter, which kept snakes active, or an increase in the amount of available food sources. Increased human-snake interaction could also play a role.
Or it could simply be that more people are calling for help after a bite.
North Carolina has six types of venomous snake: copperhead, which is the most common type of venomous snake here; cottonmouth (or water moccasin); and three types of rattlesnakes: eastern diamondback, pigmy and timber. There are also eastern coral snakes, which are extremely rare and reclusive.
Learning about them can be fascinating.
None of these snakes go looking for trouble. They tend to strike when threatened or cornered.
“Antagonizing the snake in any way, such as picking it up or throwing something at it only increases your chances of being bitten,” Beuhler said. “Instead, leave the snake alone, stay at least six feet away from it, and give it some space to move.
“There’s no reason to try to kill it,” Beuhler said. “After all, the environment is still reliant upon snakes to keep rodent populations in check.”
For the most part, preventing a bite is a matter of common sense: “Basics like good footwear, a flashlight, and not putting your arms and legs in places you can’t fully see are important,” Beuhler said.
In the event of a bite, according to the poison center, one should:
—Sit down and stay calm.
—Gently wash the area with warm, soapy water.
—Remove any jewelry or tight clothing near the bite site.
—Keep the bitten area still, if possible, and raise it to heart level.
—Call the Carolinas Poison Center: 1-800-222-1222.
Note: If a snakebite victim is having chest pain, difficulty breathing, face swelling or has lost consciousness, call 911 immediately.
Keep in mind, too, that not every snake bite, even from a venomous snake, will contain venom.
One should not:
—Cut the bitten area to try to drain the venom. This can worsen the injury.
—Ice the area. Icing causes additional tissue damage.
—Make and apply a tourniquet or any tight bandage. It’s better for the venom to flow through the body than for it to stay in one area.
—Suck or use a suction device to remove the venom.
—Attempt to catch or kill the snake.
A snake bite could put a serious damper on summer fun. But with a little caution and spatial awareness, we should all be safe.
The StarNews of Wilmington on the argument for Medicaid expansion in North Carolina:
It looks as if a showdown is brewing between Roy Cooper and the Republican-run legislature over the issue of Medicaid expansion.
The governor says Medicaid expansion has to be on the table if he’s going to think about signing the state budget. The House and Senate leadership, as usual, aren’t too thrilled with the idea.
Cooper is taking to forums around the state, preaching the message. He did so Tuesday (June 18) in Wilmington, meeting with local day-care teachers. (Maybe he read our comments earlier in the week about grabbing the bully pulpit -- his Tuesday appearance was at a local church.)
Now, it appears to be the public’s turn. Citizens are going to have to tell their senators and representatives that this issue is important to them, and they want action.
Why? Let’s quickly review:
Under the Affordable Care Act (yes, Obamacare), states can vote to extend coverage to some people with low incomes.
These are folks caught in a trap: They’re mostly workers who make too much to qualify for regular Medicaid, but not enough to get coverage under the ACA. Many of these are low-wage workers; some are in the “gig” economy, juggling two or more part-time jobs but not qualifying for health insurance through employers.
Voting to extend coverage would help more than 500,000 such North Carolinians, according to Cooper. Again -- at least at first -- doing so wouldn’t cost the state a dime; the federal government would cover the cost, along with some fees on the private sector.
Some 33 states, including some very red ones, have already expanded Medicaid coverage. It’s the smart move.
Many Republicans, though, aren’t buying it. They’re afraid of ballooning costs later on, and the costs of Medicaid in general. The conservative John Locke Foundation estimates that expansion would cost the state $6 billion between 2020 and 2030.
Maybe. That argument, however, ignores the fact that NOT expanding Medicaid is already costing us money.
New Hanover County Board of Commissioners Chairman Jonathan Barfield, for example, pointed out that local hospitals have to write off some $41 million a year, mainly because uninsured folks use the emergency room as a primary care clinic. The hospitals can’t just run these people off, so the money gets passed along in the already-hefty bills for those able to pay. Many of these folks would be covered under Medicaid expansion.
Without health insurance, many workers forgo preventive care; conditions often go undiagnosed until they land a patient in the hospital for much more serious -- and expensive -- treatment.
Such scenarios are hitting rural areas especially hard, putting the future of hospitals in those areas in serious jeopardy and worsening the already-stark disparities between rural and urban parts of the state.
Some business leaders have argued that going without expansion will impede innovation. Workers with ideas are reluctant to give up company health plans in order to go out on their own and, perhaps, form new, job-generating companies.
The problem of extending health care coverage to everyone in society who needs it is a complex one, and it will undoubtedly be a big talking point in the 2020 elections. Extending Medicaid coverage in North Carolina, though, is a sensible first step. It’s about time.
Let your senators and representatives know that this is an important step forward for the future of our state and hard-working families. In fact, it’s a step we can’t afford NOT to take.