Remember when Republicans were the party of personal responsibility? Pull yourself up by your bootstraps and all that stuff? Seems that only applied to poor people.

When it comes to corporations–who are also people, you know–it’s a whole different story. Look no further than the coal ash spill. Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources John Skvarla seemed shocked that anyone would suggest that Duke Energy actually pay to clean up and move all 14 of their leaking sites to safer facilities. In Skvarla’s view, such a move is unreasonable, presumably because of the high cost.

Skvarla likes to consider everybody “partners.” He’s called the business community that he regulates “partners” and the environmentalists he ridicules “partners.” But nobody here are partners. They may be stakeholders, but they are not partners. “Partners” assumes some mutual goals and that’s not always possible.

Duke’s goal is to maximize profits, in part, by keeping overhead as low as possible. Of course they aren’t going to want to pay for cleaning up their messes. It’s Skvarla’s job to hold them accountable, not determine how clean ups might hurt their bottom line.

And that’s how Skvarla needs to view his job. He’s not an economic developer. He’s not a partner with business. He’s not even a partner with environmentalists. He’s a regulator. He needs to understand his role and he should do his job. And if he needs some ideological justification for it, look no further than the GOP rhetoric about personal responsibility.

Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >

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