Whenever you see a curious environmental regulation plugged randomly into a state budget, you have to ask: who benefits?
Consider this latest curiosity … a special provision of the proposed Senate budget bill (shoved between a section on funding for cancer research and a subsection about the powers of the House and Senate appropriations committees). It reads:
“At least twenty percent (20%) of any area designed to be used for vehicular parking, except for a covered area or multilevel area, shall be a pervious surface.”
A pervious surface. Okay. What’s a pervious surface? Why is it so important to the state of North Carolina that twenty percent of our parking lots be pervious? In short, pervious parking lots would contribute to the expansion of wetlands, the enlargement of old growth forests, and an increase in carbon offsets. No, seriously: pervious substances permit the flow of water, which should help control problems associated with storm water runoff. Sounds reasonable enough on the face of it.
But you start doing a little digging and you find out that some Raleigh company called the Rose Group has won awards for their designs using porous pavement… Fine. UNC got a green award for paving some of its lots that way. Not terribly suspicious… But when you Google “pervious” “concrete” “north carolina” – what’s the first thing that pops up? The website for Dare Concrete, aptly named for Dare County. Now this amendment came from someone within the N.C. Senate.
Who is the most powerful senator in North Carolina? Senator Pro Tempore Marc Basnight, a Democrat from – you guessed it – Dare County.
As it turns out, Dare Concrete is eager to take advantage of such opportunities. According to their Web site:
”Never has the opportunity been so great for Town officials and commissioners, the concrete industry and developers to work together to create a win-win solution that will benefit the community and the environment.”
So a major supplier of pervious concrete in North Carolina clearly stands to gain when it comes to this new regulation. Does Senator Basnight stand to gain something, too?