Editor’s Note: Third-term North Carolina state Rep. Mike Hager (R-Rutherford) serves as the House majority leader and vice-chairman of both the Public Utilities Committee and the Finance Committee. He serves on the Committee on Commerce and Job Development, the Environment Committee, the Judiciary Committee, and the Regulatory Reform Committee.
Burnett: In successive sessions, you’ve offered bills to cap and then end North Carolina’s renewable power mandate. Why?
Hager: The REPS mandate passed in Senate Bill 7 in 2007 requires North Carolina’s utilities to provide a certain percentage of their energy from renewable sources. This requirement’s costs are being kicked back onto our taxpayers and ratepayers in multiple ways. Coming from a rural district, it is important that my constituents have a low energy bill each month. This REPS rider is not helping. Lower energy bills attract new industries, such as data centers and heavy manufacturing.
Burnett: You’ve also co-sponsored legislation to amend the North Carolina State Constitution to limit the use of eminent domain. What prompted this effort?
Hager: Property rights are a fundamental right of our citizens and should be set aside only in extreme circumstances.
Burnett: What proposed federal environmental laws or regulations are you tracking?
Hager: A few federal environmental laws I am keeping an eye on for sure are bills to expand offshore drilling and allow development of the Keystone XL Pipeline. It is important that we as a country become energy independent, instead of relying on other countries for our oil and gas. I am also keeping an eye on the 111D rule[, a recent Obama administration regulation] limiting carbon emissions from [existing] power plants, because it will likely result in increasing energy costs.
H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. ([email protected]) is managing editor of Environment & Climate News.