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Fri Aug 31, 2018, 02:09 AM

Pipeline fund battle continues: Lawmakers seek further review of Governor's deal with Dominion

The $57.8 million carrot is wilting.

The purpose of the voluntary fund, agreed to by Gov. Roy Cooper and Dominion Energy last January as part of a deal involving the controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline, had already been derailed. But several factors, including some of the governor’s own making, have exposed the agreement to legislative outrage, a power struggle, and election-year opportunism — all on full theatrical display yesterday when Republican lawmakers formed an oversight committee to investigate how and why the fund and its memorandum came about.

“Why did Gov. Cooper think he had the right to appropriate and get these funds?” asked Sen. Paul Newton, a Cabarrus County Republican, at yesterday’s Joint Commission on Government Oversight. Among the lawmakers’ arguments is that Cooper has no constitutional right to raise or appropriate funds. “There have been inconsistencies and omissions.” (Newton also committed his own omission: He neglected to mention that he used to work for Duke Energy, a co-owner of the pipeline.)

“This is starting to smell,” added Sen. Ralph Hise, who himself has been the subject of an ethics complaint involving finances.

The fate of the funds has been in limbo since March when legislators passed a law redirecting the money to public school districts in the eight counties along the route: Northampton, Halifax, Nash, Wilson, Johnston, Sampson, Cumberland and Robeson. Since the original MOU was voluntary, it’s unclear if the utilities will still offer the funds when they are due.

Read more: http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2018/08/30/pipeline-fund-battle-continues-lawmakers-seek-further-review-of-governors-deal-with-dominion/

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