Wednesday News: Robeson Rises


ENVIRONMENTALISTS FILE PETITION WITH DEQ TO REVOKE PIPELINE PERMIT: The North Carolina Climate Solutions Coalition and Friends of the Earth filed a petition with the state Department of Environmental Quality to revoke the permit the agency issued last year to the pipeline's developers under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act. The groups say the facts that were presented in the application for the permit were incorrect and are no longer accurate. The 600-mile pipeline is expected to carry natural gas from West Virginia to North Carolina, crossing eight eastern North Carolina counties from Halifax County to its terminus in Robeson County. Activists for low-income and Native American communities in North Carolina have been protesting the pipeline since state regulators approved it in January 2018. They claim the pipeline will put dangerous, dirty natural gas infrastructure in the middle of one of the largest Native American communities east of the Mississippi River.

STORMS AND A LAWSUIT FORCE NC DOT TO LAYOFF TEMP WORKERS: The N.C. Department of Transportation plans to lay off hundreds of temporary and contractual workers statewide to help cover the costs of repairing roads damaged by hurricanes and other harsh weather and to settle lawsuits related to a 30-year-old law that was declared unconstitutional. The layoffs will hit a wide variety of workers, including laborers who patch pot holes, inspectors on construction sites and contractors who review highway plans. The exact number was not clear Tuesday, but Bobby Lewis, NCDOT’s chief operating officer, said the department is reviewing more than 1,000 positions to see which ones it can do without for a while. “We’re looking at any temporary workers that are not absolutely essential for critical activities,” Lewis said in an interview late Tuesday.

AFTER GERRYMANDERING A&T CAMPUS, REPUBLICANS TRY TO USE THE HBCU IN BUDGET BATTLE: North Carolina's leading Republican legislators visited a public university to highlight millions of dollars in funding for campus construction and programs in their proposed state budget, held up in a stalemate with Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. House Speaker Tim Moore, Senate leader Phil Berger and other lawmakers visited North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro on Tuesday. The News & Record reports Moore later visited UNC-Greensboro, which also would benefit from budget provisions. Cooper vetoed the budget in June, criticizing the presence of corporate tax cuts and absence of Medicaid expansion. House Republicans have lacked enough override votes. Moore said later Tuesday he isn't giving up on an override and urged community members to ask Democratic lawmakers to join Republicans.

MOSCOW MITCH STIFLED SANCTIONS WHILE KENTUCKY GOT SWEETHEART ALUMINUM INVESTMENT FROM RUSSIA: “It is shocking how blatantly transactional this arrangement looks,” said Michael McFaul, who served as the U.S. ambassador to Russia during the Obama administration and now teaches at Stanford University. Democratic senators have called for a government review of the deal, prompting a Rusal executive in Moscow last week to threaten to pull out of the investment. The Rusal-backed project is one of several issues fueling broader scrutiny of McConnell’s posture toward Russia and its efforts to manipulate American voters. In 2016, McConnell privately expressed skepticism about the intelligence reports on Russia’s activities in the election and resisted a push by the Obama administration to issue a bipartisan statement condemning the Kremlin. Last month, he blocked consideration of election security bills that have bipartisan support, despite warnings from the FBI and the intelligence community about the risks of foreign interference in the 2020 election.

BORIS JOHNSON APPEARS TO BE HEADED FOR A "NO CONFIDENCE" VOTE IN SEPTEMBER: It all begins with signals from some lawmakers that when Parliament reconvenes in September, it will pass a vote of no confidence in Mr. Johnson’s government, based on his intention to pull Britain out of the European Union by Oct. 31, “do or die,” deal or no deal. Traditionally, that would stop a government in its tracks. These days, lawmakers have 14 days after such a vote to try to put together a new government. If they cannot, the prime minister is then supposed to call a general election. But as Mr. Cummings has let it be known, even if a rival were to attract enough support to form a government, the prime minister could legally call for a general election and refuse to vacate Downing Street. The Fixed-Term Parliaments Act of 2011, which guides the procedures for a no-confidence vote, does not specifically require prime ministers to step aside at that point, even if custom and respect for democratic norms would seem to dictate that they should. At this point, constitutional experts say, the queen could conceivably step in and dismiss Mr. Johnson, using her “reserve prerogative power.”