Not sure what exactly to make of the failure a few minutes ago of House Bill 1224.
One thing I do know. The economic development part of the bill would have provided some $13 million (depending on which article one reads) to extend and expand natural gas service to Canton, home of the Evergreen Packaging paper mill formerly operated by Champion International. Local news sources, including the Asheville Citizen-Times, are portraying this as a vote against the mountains.
Recent reports claim that nearly 60% of the state's economic development money over the past 5 years has gone to three counties: Mecklenburg, Wake, and Durham. Headline stories have noted $100 million to MetLife, $85 million to the Carolina Panthers, and $36 million to Sealed Air.
The paper mill in Canton employs 1,000, with much of the workforce represented by a union. While not perfect, the mill has made great strides over the past two decades in cleaning up its act. Switching to natural gas boilers would improve air quality in Haywood and surrounding counties, although I'm sure there are many who would engage me in debate over that.
With all that said, it is indeed puzzling that legislators on the right are rushing headlong to literally push natural gas out of the ground, but don't seem interested in allowing us to use it.