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North Carolina Strikes a Climate Deal That Eludes Washington

Environmentalists say law coddles Duke Energy, but it sets ambitious goals

Water floods Highway 12 during Hurricane Dorian in Nags Head, North Carolina, Sept. 6, 2019.

Water floods Highway 12 during Hurricane Dorian in Nags Head, North Carolina, Sept. 6, 2019.

Photographer: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

North Carolina’s body politic is cleaved in two: Democrats hold the governorship and Republicans a large majority of both legislative houses. Yet last week, lawmakers mandated that the power sector make a deep cut in carbon dioxide emissions.

The story of how the bitterly divided state passed a bill that few like, but which nevertheless enshrines CO2 reductions in law, may offer lessons to Washington. In the nation’s capital, Congress is gridlocked by both inter- and intraparty wars on President Joe Biden’s energy plan.