Friday, September 25, 2015

Big week for coal-ash happenings in N.C.

Posted By on Fri, Sep 25, 2015 at 2:56 PM

Unless you haven’t been paying any attention at all, you are aware that North Carolina has a shitton of coal ash. And by “North Carolina” I really mean “Duke Energy.” This week both the company and activists held events on the topic. Allow me to summarize …

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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Two science-banning bills up for vote in the House

Posted By on Wed, Mar 4, 2015 at 11:42 AM

Here's a bit of Wednesday WTF news for you.

Just last November, the House of Representatives passed two bills that restricted two valuable resources for the Environmental Protection Agency — scientific advice and data. After months of criticism from the science world, these two bills are now back in the House to be reconsidered.

But first, here’s some background to catch you up.

The Science Advisory Board Reform Act bans scientists from advising the EPA in justifying regulations. Essentially, scientists are forbidden from sharing their expertise in one of the few places it counts most.

The Secret Science Reform Act prohibits the EPA from using science that includes private data, or data that can’t easily, or affordably, be reproduced. According to The Congressional Budget Office, the EPA relies on about 50,000 scientific studies a year.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Caroling for clean energy

Posted By on Tue, Dec 23, 2014 at 11:21 AM

Christmas has her 6-year-old so excited, Danielle Hilton and her daughter are celebrating the season by writing carols together. But these aren’t your traditional “Deck the Halls.”

Hilton, who is concerned about the state of the environment and natural resources that her daughter’s generation will inherit, has been posting videos to YouTube of her family, friends and strangers singing carols for clean energy. She and a group of carolers are headed to the Duke Energy building in Uptown today around lunchtime to serenade the corporation, part of an action organized by the state’s Moms Clean Air Force.

“I’m encouraging anyone to record a song to contribute,” Hilton says. “I know it’s time to be with family, but take a moment to record two to three lines about clean energy and hopes for the future,” she says.
Songs on the YouTube channel include a parody of Donny Hathaway’s “This Christmas” called “Who Did This” and a spoof of Jingle Bells called “Benzene Smells.”

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

What McCrory didn't mention in his praise of the new natural-gas pipeline

Posted By on Wed, Sep 3, 2014 at 10:24 AM

On Tuesday Gov. McCrory’s office applauded a new natural-gas pipeline that will “bring hundreds of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars of economic activity to North Carolina.” It was yet another opportunity for the governor to make a major announcment in his effort to “turn North Carolina around” and into a state that welcomes industry at the expense of transparency and, in many cases, the environment.

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline would transport 1.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day collected from fracking - a word curiously left off McCrory’s press release - the Marcellus and Utica shale basins in West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The gas would travel through Virginia and end in Robeson County, North Carolina, which is in the east.

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Friday, August 22, 2014

Really, senator? The coal ash bill is something we should be proud of?

Posted By on Fri, Aug 22, 2014 at 11:23 AM

Submitted for your consideration, this entry into the “most blatantly, obviously absurd statements by a politician in this election year” category: After the General Assembly finally ended what should have been a short session to handle a budget shortfall on Wednesday, in which it passed a bill to address Duke Energy’s third-worst coal-ash spill in U.S. history earlier this year — a bill that was mired for months in the highest drama, conflict and controversy — the senator who led the work on that bill, Republican Tom Apodaca of Henderson, told the Charlotte Observer, probably with a straight face, “This makes North Carolina the leader in coal ash management in the United States. I think we can go home proud.”

Really, senator? We’re now the leader in handling coal ash in the nation? And this bill — well, this law, assuming Gov. McCrory signs it, as everyone expects him to do — is something we should be strutting around about? Let’s take a moment to examine that assertion just a bit, shall we?

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Regarding coal ash transfer to airport, city issues Duke Energy an unexpected counter proposal

Posted By on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 5:41 PM

City staff charged with reviewing a proposal to move coal ash from basins around Charlotte to the airport said Monday that they've issued a counter proposal to Duke Energy. The details of the plan were withheld, however, to allow Duke time to assess the plan's details and respond, assistant City Manager Hyong Yi told City Council's Environmental Committee during a meeting Monday.

Though the counter proposal does include the airport, it will presumably ax a plan to move the coal ash under runways, which city staffers deemed unsafe, no matter how small the risk may be of a spill, Yi said.

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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Coal ash cleanup - finally?

Posted By on Thu, Jul 3, 2014 at 1:41 PM

It might have been the upcoming holiday staring them in the face. Or maybe it was Hurricane Arthur barreling up the coast. But for a while this week, it appeared that the General Assembly was set to finally pass some major legislation to deal with Duke Energy’s coal ash ponds following one of the worst environmental disasters in the state’s history earlier this year when contaminated sludge was released into the Dan River. But by the close of business on Wednesday — and pending additional negotiations, maneuvers and voting on Thursday — there was a general consensus among environmental watch dogs that legislation beng considered may not have been worth the effort. What’s more, arguably one of the most critical elements of any legislation, at least from the perspective of the state’s tax-payers — the question as to who will pay for the clean-up of Duke’s 33 ponds — was not even being discussed in Raleigh.

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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Learn how to solarize your home

Posted By on Thu, May 29, 2014 at 11:00 AM

Now that we've all (finally!) wised up to the ills of using coal for energy production, it's time to seriously consider alternatives. Enter Solarize Charlotte, a newly formed nonprofit that aims to up our solar panel usage.

On Thursday, June 3, Solarize will host a panel discussion for "anyone interested in reducing their electrical bill and carbon footprint with a home solar system." Participants will explain how to install the panels and low-interest loans and tax credits available to interested homeowners.

Show up at the Plaza Midwood International House, 1817 Central Ave., at 5:30 for the meet and greet and stick around till 6 for the panel.


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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Shady loopholes written into the weak, just-introduced coal ash bill

Posted By on Wed, May 14, 2014 at 4:11 PM

Sam Perkins sounds frustrated. A few hours before the Catawba Riverkeeper and I talk on the phone Wednesday, Sens. Phil Berger and Tom Apodaca had introduced the long-awaited coal ash bill, the legislation many in North Carolina hoped would lay out assertive steps to finally - after years of frustration, litigation and outcry - deal with the unlined coal ash basins that dot the state and contaminate our groundwater.

"The problem with [the bill] is that it, almost verbatim, is a revival of the proposed settlement that was not only rejected by 5,000 people in comments, it was withdrawn by the state because it was so inadequate," Perkins said.

Coal ash spills into the Dan River.
  • Waterkeeper Alliance Inc. (Flickr)
  • Coal ash spills into the Dan River.

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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

General Assembly's attempt to block cities from regulating trees concerns more than just their huggers

Posted By on Tue, May 6, 2014 at 3:02 PM

A draft bill that would strip North Carolina municipalities of the authority to remove, replace or preserve trees on private property has more than environmentalists concerned.

Some on city council say the bill - expected to come up in the short session, which begins next week - is another overreach by legislators in Raleigh, those supposed defenders of limited government.

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