US bars Atlantic drilling; Obama builds environmental legacy
By MATTHEW DALY, Associated Press March 15, 2016
WASHINGTON — In a major reversal, the Obama administration said Tuesday it will bar oil drilling in the Atlantic Ocean, a move cheered by environmentalists and consistent with the president's aggressive steps to combat climate change... "President Obama has taken a giant step for our oceans, for coastal economies and for mitigating climate change," said Jacqueline Savitz, vice president of Oceana, an environmental group. read article
Lawsuit challenges panel that made NC fracking rules
January 5, 2015 WRAL
By JONATHAN DREW, Associated Press
A lawsuit filed Monday by conservationists asks that rules on fracking in North Carolina be thrown out, arguing the panel that developed them was formed in violation of the state Constitution. Lawyers representing the Haw River Assembly argue the state Legislature violated provisions separating the branches of government when it formed the Mining and Energy Commission in 2012, according to the lawsuit in Wake County Superior Court...
The lawsuit asks the court to declare as unconstitutional the portion of the law forming the Mining and Energy Commission. It also asks the court to nullify the commission's actions, including fracking rules expected to be delivered this month to lawmakers who will have the final say on them. The measures cover issues including permitting, chemical disclosure, well shafts, water testing and buffer zones.
The lawsuit contends the Republican-controlled General Assembly pushed the commission members it appointed to promote fracking and "get the rules passed as quickly as possible." It says the rules are inadequate to protect the state. "We have a commission making important decisions about the future of North Carolina that is ultimately accountable to no one," said Derb Carter, an attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center...
The set of about 120 rules developed by [Vikram Rao, chairman of the Mining and Energy Commission]'s panel was approved last month... The Legislature is expected to receive them later this month. ... Republican Gov. Pat McCrory signed a law last summer clearing the way for permits to be issued this year for fracking, which involves injecting water, sand and chemicals to break apart underground rocks so oil and gas can escape. read article
Senate Rejects Keystone XL Pipeline Bill, In A Close Vote
November 18, 2014 BILL CHAPPELL NPR
The controversial Keystone XL pipeline project to expand an oil pipeline running from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico has failed the approval of Congress, after the Senate voted against the project Tuesday. The House passed its version of the bill Friday. An early tally showed 35 for and 30 against the bill; subsequent calls for senators' votes failed to net the 60 votes needed for passage... final tally was 59-41.
The vote came after President Obama stopped short of saying he would veto the bill, but he encouraged Congress not to take action before a long-awaited State Department review of the project is fully complete...
Several Democrats spoke against the Keystone extension during a floor debate before this afternoon's vote. "We're going to see higher gas prices because of this," said Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer ... read article
N.C. officials host closed meeting on drilling
November 6, 2014 10:15 pm
Associated Press/ Winston Salem Journal
Officials from North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia met privately Thursday with federal regulators and groups funded by oil and gas companies to discuss plans for drilling off the Atlantic coast. A coalition of environmental groups sought to be allowed inside the Mid-Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Five-Year Program meeting, which is being held at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh. Reporters were allowed to attend the end of the session only to hear closing remarks by Gov. Pat McCrory, but only after a police officer posted at the door checked their credentials. By then, many of the 60 people on the list of invited attendees had left...
"We can't recall any other administration convening a meeting of public officials to talk about a public process for developing a public resource, held in a public location, that is closed to the public," said Dustin Chicurel-Bayard, spokesman for the North Carolina Sierra Club. "It's hard to understand why the McCrory administration is being so secretive and shutting the public out of the conversation about the future of our coast." read article
Is Fracking a Good Fit for NC?
by Mike Timmons Sept. 7, 2104
Gov. McCrory and NC’s GOP-dominated Legislature have pushed a bill to accelerate the development of hydraulic fracturing, known commonly as fracking, to exploit natural gas re-serves that may reside in our state’s shale rock deposits.
...there are strong reasons to question fracking in NC. There are unmeasured risks to NC’s environment, to its drinking water supply and air quality. It is not clear yet if adequate regulations will be promulgated by the NC Energy and Mining Commission. Economically, fracking in NC does not make a case for extending risks to its environment, proven re-serves being much smaller than in many other states. The industry is a dangerous one, with death rates about 8 times greater than the rate when all industries are combined. Anecdotal evidence for health risks for humans, pets, and livestock is increasing as the duration of fracking continues in states like, PA, OH, TX, CO, and ND. So, to some of us, fracking does not seem to fit NC. read comprehensive article
Learn About and Comment on the Obama's Clean Power Plan Proposed Rule
Comments on the Clean Power Plan Proposed Rule must be received by December 1, 2014.
What the massive snowfall in Boston tells us about global warming
By Chris Mooney February 10
...The snowfall in Boston lately is simply insane...
You could treat this as ordinary weather, or, you could think about it in a climate context. Counter-intuitive though it may sound, the fact remains that ... some kinds of winter precipitation could indeed be more intense because we’re in a warming world.
...“Sea surface temperatures off the coast of New England right now are at record levels, 11.5C (21F) warmer than normal in some locations,” says Penn State climate researcher Michael Mann. “There is [a] direct relationship between the surface warmth of the ocean and the amount of moisture in the air. What that means is that this storm will be feeding off these very warm seas, producing very large amounts of snow as spiraling winds of the storm squeeze that moisture out of the air, cool, it, and deposit it as snow inland.” ...Heavy snows mean the temperature is just below freezing, any cooler and the amount would be a lot less,” adds Kevin Trenberth, a climate expert at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. “Warmer waters off the coast help elevate winter temperatures and contribute to the greater snow amounts. This is how global warming plays a role.”
... sooner or later we’re going to have to get past the idea that global warming and huge amounts of snow are somehow contradictory. read article
The US and China Just Announced a Huge Deal on Climate—and It's a Game Changer
The surprise agreement aims to double the pace of carbon pollution reduction in the United States.
By Tim McDonnell and James West
Tue Nov. 11, 2014 Mother Jones
In a surprise announcement Tuesday night, the world's two biggest economies and greenhouse gas emitters, United States and China, said they will partner closely on a broad-ranging package of plans to fight climate change, including new targets to reduce carbon pollution, according to a statement from the White House. The announcement comes after President Obama met with Chinese President Xi Jinping today in Beijing, and includes headline-grabbing commitments from both countries that are sure to breathe new life into negotiations to reach a new climate treaty in Paris next year.
According to the plan, the United States will reduce carbon emissions 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, nearly twice the existing target—without imposing new restrictions on power plants or vehicles. Tuesday's announcement is equally remarkable for China's commitment. For the first time, China has set a date at which it expects its emissions will "peak," or finally begin to taper downward: around 2030. China is currently the world's biggest emitter of carbon pollution, largely because of its coal-dependent economy, and reining in emissions while continuing to grow has been the paramount challenge for China's leaders. The White House said in a statement that China could reach the target even sooner than 2030. It "expects that China will succeed in peaking its emissions before 2030 based on its broad economic reform program, plans to address air pollution, and implementation of President Xi's call for an energy revolution." read article
Obama urges global action to combat climate change: 'Nobody gets a pass'
World's top polluters pledge action at UN summit; Obama calls on all nations to address challenges of a warming Earth
September 23, 2014 Al Jazeera
President Barack Obama warned on Tuesday that the world’s climate is changing at a faster pace than efforts to address it, issuing a forceful appeal for greater international cooperation on carbon caps. "Nobody gets a pass," Obama declared. "We have to raise our collective ambition." The president’s plea was made during the United Nations Climate Summit in New York, attended by leaders from both the political and business worlds and aimed at galvanizing support for a global treaty to be finalized next year. Obama said that the United States is doing its part and that it will meet a goal to cut carbon pollution by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020. He also announced modest new U.S. commitments to help other countries address climate change challenges. But Obama's strongest remarks came as he sought to unify the international conclave behind actions to reduce global warming. read article
The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources has produced about 900 files responding to public records requests submitted by multiple organizations on coal ash. March 2014
Click to Search
NC's coal ash records on WRAL
Food & Water Watch
Is a national organization with a fantastic website of resources. And they have an office right here on Gilbert St. in Durham.
Rene Maas is the local organizer--she is the Senior Organizer responsible for working with communities in the Carolinas, Kentucky and Tennessee from Food & Water Watch’s North Carolina office. Renée connects, educates and challenges people in her region to stand up for their rights to safe food and clean water, particularly in the face of the threatening forces of factory farming and fracking.
Contact her at: Rmaas@fwwatch.org 919-794-6380
“Fracking” Map in NC
Where Could Hydraulic Fracturing (“Fracking”) Occur in North Carolina?
The map above shows the potential affected areas and include Sanford, Lee, and Chatham counties in North Carolina. read more
FEDS OVERRIDE NORTH CAROLINA ON DRAINING COAL ASH DUMPS
By MICHAEL BIESECKER Oct. 03, 2014 AP/WTVD
Federal environmental officials spurred North Carolina regulators to reverse a policy allowing Duke Energy to drain massive amounts of polluted wastewater from its coal ash dumps directly into the state's rivers and lakes... The Southern Environmental Law Center released documents Friday showing that the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources quietly gave Duke approval on Aug. 28 to start emptying liquids from all of its 33 coal ash dumps across the state through existing drain pipes at the facilities.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency responded with a lengthy memo on Sept. 16, expressing concern that Duke's draining would likely violate federal water quality standards...
"The applicable permits only require monitoring for a limited number of pollutants once every six months," wrote Mark J. Nuhfer, an EPA official at the agency's regional headquarters in Atlanta. "As a result, Duke Energy could draw the ponds down completely without taking a single sample to assess effluent quality, permit compliance, or water-quality impact." The EPA agrees with the state's goal of draining the dumps, but Nuhfer said the company should be required to provide more information about the potential environmental impacts of releasing such large amounts of wastewater in a short period of time.
Following the EPA's letter, state regulators sent a new letter to Duke on Sept. 19, revoking its earlier approval. read article
Climate Change Awareness
Sept. 22, 2014 Comedy Central
Awesome Daily Show coverage of the US House Committe on Science, Space and Technology. watch video
General Assembly sends compromise coal ash bill to the governor
By Mark Binker
Aug 20, 2014 WRAL
Both the House and Senate voted Wednesday to approve a measure that leaders are calling a "first in the nation" bill that manages the removal of coal ash from 33 unlined pits throughout the state, despite objections from some environmental groups that the measure leaves too much of the decision making to an appointed board... The bill now goes to Gov. Pat McCrory for his signature or veto.
...One thing the compromise ash bill does not do is say who will pay of the cleanup of the ponds. Duke Energy has committed to paying for the cost of cleaning up the Dan River spill, but company executives have said they may seek rate hikes in order to help pay the disposal costs. The measure does place a moratorium on Duke asking for any rate increases associated with coal ash cleanup, but it expires on Jan. 15. read detailed article
Coal ash could become campaign hazard
Aug 14, 2014 WRAL By Mark Binker
North Carolina's 33 coal ash ponds could pose a political hazard this fall as the General Assembly adjourns for the time being without finishing work on legislation to address the environmental hazard posed by the unlined pits filled with toxin-laced material. After a Feb. 2 spill from a shuttered Duke Energy plant dumped roughly 40,000 tons of coal ash into the Dan River, Republican leaders in both the House and the Senate vowed to craft legislation that would lead to the cleanup of the ponds that sit along waterways at 14 plants across the state. Progress on that legislation hit a snag earlier this month after legislative leaders couldn't resolve their differences over two different versions of the bill.
Lawmakers say they will return after the November election to take up both coal ash legislation and a Medicaid reform package. In the meantime, not only will state House and Senate members face voters without tackling what was supposedly a top priority for the summer session, but House Speaker Thom Tillis will campaign against U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan with a significant item remaining on his chamber's to-do list. read article
Fracking company makes offers in Durham
by Billy Ball Tue, Jul 22, 2014
Almost two months after fracking was legalized in North Carolina, a Pennsylvania company is offering to buy mineral rights from landowners in Durham. And since the company’s agent has not registered with state officials, he could be breaking the law.
Leaders of the Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association, a conservationist nonprofit in Durham, say they recently have received offers from Crimson Holdings Corporation...seeking to buy mineral rights on multiple tracts... Crimson Holdings has also approached at least one other landowner near Falls Lake in northeast Durham County, according to documents obtained by the INDY... State law bars local governments from imposing drilling bans within their borders...
Hope Taylor, executive director of Clean Water for N.C., said landowners should also be wary of unregistered landmen... Talylor added that while it’s surprising for a company to be making lease offers in Durham, it’s important for Triangle residents to be prepared should gas companies contact them. “If anything, it says they’re pretty bold if they think it’s ok to reach out to land conservation groups...”
...The state’s Mining and Energy Commission, which has created a draft of fracking regulations, will hold public hearings on the rules next month. The first scheduled hearing is set for Aug. 20 at N.C. State University’s McKimmon Center in Raleigh.
Coal ash cleanup plan gets final Senate nod
June 25, 2014 WRAL
For the second time in less than 24 hours, the state Senate was unanimous in its support of a bill that would require Duke Energy to close and clean up all of its coal ash ponds across North Carolina within 15 years. With the Senate's final approval Wednesday, the measure now heads to the House... The bill would require Duke to close four "high-risk" coal ash sites, including the Dan River site, by Aug. 1, 2019... read article
'Conclusive link' between fracking, aquifer contamination found in Texas
By Jon Queally, Common Dreams
June 9, 2014 Facing South
Independent scientists who have reviewed a water analysis conducted by state authorities of a Texas resident's drinking well say the chemical signatures found in the water may provide "the nation's first conclusive link" between fracking operations and aquifer contamination. Though a state investigation -- conducted by the Texas Railroad Commission in response to an official complaint filed by landowner and Parker County resident Steve Lipsky -- said it found the chemical analysis of the water inconclusive, experts shown the results say the commission was simply wrong. "And not just by a little," reports local ABC-affiliate WFAA News who shared the results with several scientists, "but by a lot." read article
WRAL Gov't Coverage @NCCapitol
"For those playing along at home, the fracking bill went from house committee debut to senate concurrence and off to gov in 48 hrs"
Lawmakers OK fast-track 'fracking' bill
May 29, 2014 By Laura Leslie and Bruce Mildwurf WRAL
House and Senate lawmakers gave final approval Thursday to a proposal that would speed up the start of natural gas drilling in the state. The House vote was 64-50, and the Senate voted 33-10 without any debate to concur with the House version of the bill. Senate Bill 786 now goes to the desk of Gov. Pat McCrory, who has already said he supports it.
...House Democrats tried to amend the legislation 10 times Thursday, but none succeeded. Republican leaders used a parliamentary maneuver to derail four proposals. Those amendments would have banned the disposal of toxic wastewater from drilling in open pits, required landowner permission to disturb surface land, allowed cities more power in setting rules for drilling and reinstated a 2012 requirement for lawmakers to vote to approve state regulations before any drilling could begin. The parliamentary maneuver, known as tabling, allows amendments to be killed without a recorded vote on the topic of the amendment.
...Ed Harris, whose Lee County land sits atop a shale deposit that could be drilled, said he is upset with lawmakers for their headlong rush to open the state to gas exploration... "My land belongs to me," Harris said. "It does not belong to... the Mining and Energy Commission and it doesn't belong to the North Carolina legislature."
A amendment proposed by Rep. Grier Martin, D-Wake, would have banned compulsory, or forced, pooling by removing the state's 1940s forced pooling law from the books. Martin said forced pooling isn't required for... "fracking," noting that Pennsylvania and West Virginia don't allow it.
"This amendment here is not whether you support or oppose fracking. This is about whether you think the government should be able to come in and tell you you have to engage in it,” he said.
Other Democrats compared forced pooling to the abuse of eminent domain and said it would be impossible for oil and gas companies or landowners to value leases if the rules for pooling aren't clear. "We are transferring and changing the property rights of the citizens of this state," warned Rep. Rick Glazier, D-Cumberland...
Glazier argued the benefits of fracking with current technology don't outweigh the risk. "It scares the absolute heck out of me," he said. Rep. Pricey Harrison, D-Guilford, said, "Three hundred eighty-seven jobs and 12 days of gas does not seem like it's worth the risk to our natural resources and our public health. We have plenty of time to get it right. Nothing about this process makes any sense to me." read article
See Pricey Harrison on MSNBC's ALL IN 05/29/14
Fracking on its way to being legal in North Carolina
A new North Carolina law makes it illegal, for the first time, to disclose what chemicals are used in the drilling process. watch video
Inside Scoop: Harrison files coal ash legislation
By Amanda Lehmert
News & Record
May 27, 2014
...Rep. Pricey Harrison and fellow Democrats filed a bill today that proposes a slate of coal ash regulation changes, including prohibiting ash from being put into North Carolina storage ponds after August of this year.
It's the latest legal remedy proposed in the wake of the coal ash spill into the Dan River in Eden. The bill, filed this afternoon, also goes a step beyond the legislation proposed by Senate Republicans and Gov. Pat McCrory and sets a deadline for when coal ash ponds must to be closed. Harrison, D-Guilford, said House Bill 1226 includes much of what Democrats promised earlier this year. read article
North Carolina GOP Pushes Unprecedented Bill to Jail Anyone Who Discloses Fracking Chemicals
May 21, 2014 by Molly Redden
BillMoyers.com first appeared at Mother Jones.
As hydraulic fracturing ramps up around the country, so do concerns about its health impacts. These concerns have led 20 states to require the disclosure of industrial chemicals used in the fracking process.
North Carolina isn’t on that list of states yet — and it may be hurtling in the opposite direction.
On Thursday, three Republican state senators introduced a bill that would slap a felony charge on individuals who disclosed confidential information about fracking chemicals. The bill, whose sponsors include a member of Republican party leadership, establishes procedures for fire chiefs and health care providers to obtain chemical information during emergencies. But as the trade publication Energywire noted Friday, individuals who leak information outside of emergency settings could be penalized with fines and several months in prison.
“The felony provision is far stricter than most states’ provisions in terms of the penalty for violating trade secrets,” says Hannah Wiseman, a Florida State University assistant law professor who studies fracking regulations. The bill also allows companies that own the chemical information to require emergency responders to sign a confidentiality agreement. And it’s not clear what the penalty would be for a health care worker or fire chief who spoke about their experiences with chemical accidents to colleagues. read article
Environment North Carolina
is dedicated to protecting our air, water and open spaces. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public and decision-makers, and help the public make their voices heard in local, state and national debates over the quality of our environment and our lives. visit site
by Kayoua Lee
From the NC Democratic Party
Need clarity on what fracking will mean to you and your community? Need talking points? This 10-part series will help, covering a range of topics "from the effects of hydraulic fracturing to our economic concerns, to the parties at the forefront fighting for and against" North Carolina's Senate Bill 786 (Energy Modernization Act).
Part 1, Fracking 101, appeared July 25
Look for this, and a new post every Friday here
Voter ire over handling of Duke Energy coal ash disaster transcends party politics
By Sue Sturgis 07/28/2014 Facing South
Three-quarters of North Carolinians -- of all political affiliations -- don't think the state legislature has done enough to address Duke Energy's recent coal ash spill into the Dan River.
That's the finding of a poll of 519 North Carolina voters released today by the NC League of Conservation Voters (NCLCV). The environmental advocacy group has undertaken a $1 million coal ash campaign that includes TV ads criticizing state House Speaker Thom Tillis (R) for failing to take adequate action to protect the environment and Duke Energy's ratepayers... The PPP poll, which was conducted last week, also found that voters overwhelmingly think:
* Duke Energy should clean up the coal ash left in the Dan. A solid 80 percent of voters surveyed say Duke Energy should have to clean up the 36,000 tons of toxic ash that remain in the Dan River...
* Lawmakers need to get coal ash away from waterways. The poll found that 76 percent of North Carolina voters think the General Assembly should require all coal ash ponds to be moved from waterways...
* Duke Energy -- not its ratepayers -- should foot the coal ash cleanup bill. An overwhelming 82 percent of North Carolina voters are concerned and 71 percent are very concerned about the legislature passing a bill that doesn't require Duke Energy to pay for the cleanup of the company's coal ash ponds...
The poll found that the coal ash spill is hurting Tillis politically...In all, 51 percent of North Carolina voters disapprove of Tillis' handling of environmental issues in general... "With a budget deal being struck, time is of the essence to contact legislators and let them know to fix the coal ash bill before going home," said Dan Crawford, director of governmental relations for NCLCV...
PPP's latest poll on the Senate race, released last week, finds Hagan continuing to expand her lead over Tillis, with Hagan at 41 percent, Tillis at 34 percent... The NCLCV coal ash poll also found that the environment will play an important role in how North Carolinians vote this fall. In all, 90 percent of voters surveyed say environmental issues will be important to them when deciding how to vote... There's a consensus on the importance of the environment across the political spectrum, with 94 percent of Democrats and 86 percent of both Republicans and independents saying it would affect their voting decisions. read article
Lawmakers close deal on coal ash
July 19, 2014 By Mark Binker WRAL
House and Senate negotiators reached a compromise on coal ash cleanup legislation today despite publicly saying the measure was done for the year. "I am told that the House and the Senate may have reached consensus on the coal ash bill," House Speaker Thom Tillis told his chamber early Tuesday afternoon. He did not further elaborate, other than to warn House members they may be asked to review a bill Tuesday and vote on it Wednesday or Thursday. read article
Also see NC Policy Watch: The great coal ash blunder
House gives revised coal ash plan preliminary approval
By Matthew Burns Jul 1, 1014 WRAL
The House voted 85-27 Wednesday to give tentative approval to a plan for closing and cleaning up dozens of coal ash ponds across North Carolina. A final vote is expected Thursday morning before the bill is sent back to the Senate to see if senators concur with the House's changes. Under the proposal, four "high-risk" coal ash sites would have to be closed by Aug. 1, 2019, and the state would prioritize the other 10 North Carolina sites where ash is stored in giant lagoons. continue reading
U.N. Draft Report Lists Unchecked Emissions’ Risks
By JUSTIN GILLIS
AUG. 26, 2014
New York Times
Runaway growth in the emission of greenhouse gases is swamping all political efforts to deal with the problem, raising the risk of “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts” over the coming decades, according to a draft of a major new United Nations report... “Human influence has been detected in warming of the atmosphere and the ocean, in changes in the global water cycle, in reduction in snow and ice, and in global mean-sea-level rise; and it is extremely likely to have been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century,” the draft report said...The report was drafted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a body of scientists and other experts appointed by the United Nations that periodically reviews and summarizes climate research. It is not final...
The report found that companies and governments had identified reserves of these fuels at least four times larger than could safely be burned if global warming is to be kept to a tolerable level. That means if society wants to limit the risks… it must… leave a vast majority of these valuable fuels in the ground, the report said...
President Obama, using his executive authority under the Clean Air Act, is seeking to impose national limits on emissions of greenhouse gases, but he faces profound legal and political challenges as he seeks to put his policy into effect before leaving office in early 2017... Continued warming, the report found, is likely to “slow down economic growth, make poverty reduction more difficult, further erode food security, and prolong existing poverty traps and create new ones, the latter particularly in urban areas and emerging hot spots of hunger.” read article
NY COMMUNITIES TRIUMPH OVER FRACKING INDUSTRY IN PRECEDENT-SETTING CASE
June 30, 2014
Albany, NY — Local communities have triumphed over the fracking industry in a precedent-setting case decided today by the New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court. In a test case pitting community rights against the oil and gas industry, the Court ruled that the towns of Dryden and Middlefield can use local zoning laws to ban heavy industry, including oil and gas operations, within municipal borders.
"Today the Court stood with the people of Dryden and the people of New York to protect their right to self determination. It is clear that people, not corporations, have the right to decide how their community develops," said Dryden Deputy Supervisor Jason Leifer... Today's ruling shows all of America that a committed group of citizens and public officials can stand together against fearful odds and successfully defend their homes, their way of life, and the environment against those who would harm them all in the name of profit."...Dryden Town Supervisor Mary Ann Sumner said, “I hope our victory serves as an inspiration to people in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, Florida, North Carolina, California and elsewhere who are also trying to do what’s right for their own communities.” read article
Unveiling New Carbon Plan, E.P.A. Focuses on Flexibility
By CORAL DAVENPORT
JUNE 2, 2014 NY Times
The Obama administration on Monday announced one of the strongest actions ever taken by the United States government to fight climate change, a proposed Environmental Protection Agency regulation to cut carbon pollution from the nation’s power plants 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. The regulation takes aim at the largest source of carbon pollution in the United States, the nation’s more than 600 coal-fired power plants. If it withstands an expected onslaught of legal and legislative attacks, experts say that it could close hundreds of the plants....
Under the rule, states will be given a wide menu of policy options to achieve the pollution cuts. Rather than immediately shutting down coal plants, states would be allowed to reduce emissions by making changes across their electricity systems — by installing new wind and solar generation or energy-efficiency technology, and by starting or joining state and regional “cap and trade” programs, in which states agree to cap carbon pollution and buy and sell permits to pollute. In her remarks, Gina McCarthy, the E.P.A. administrator, repeatedly emphasized the plan’s flexibility...“That’s what makes it ambitious, but achievable. read article/watch video
Also see Washigton Post : Highlights of Obama’s plan to cut carbon
House approves fast-track 'fracking' bill
May 28, 2014
By Laura Leslie and Mark Binker
The state House gave tentative approval Wednesday to a proposal that would allow natural gas drilling to start in the state as soon as rules for the industry are finalized...
The bill repeals a 2012 requirement that lawmakers vote to approve rules for fracking before the state's moratorium on it could be lifted. Instead, the state is directed to begin issuing permits for drilling 60 days after the state Mining and Energy Commission finalizes the rules. The measure also makes it a misdemeanor for anyone to reveal a driller's formula for fracking fluid, though supporters stressed that material safety sheets on site will ensure that, in an emergency, first responders can find out what chemicals they're dealing with.
The bill also prohibits local governments from passing ordinances that could ban or limit fracking, lowers permit costs for wells and requires state regulators to look into whether applicants for permits have had a history of violations in other states.
Rep. Mike Stone, R-Lee, said the bill will bring the state jobs. "North Carolina needs energy independence," he said. Current estimates of the state's shale reserves project they contain enough gas to supply the state's natural gas needs for less than six years. The Commerce Department estimated the industry would create 387 jobs. "That's a lot of risk for not a lot of reward," said Rep. Pricey Harrison, D-Guilford.
"As a father, the main reason I was put on this earth is to protect my daughter," said Rep. Grier Martin, D-Wake. "You want me to vote for a bill that’s going to pump unnamed chemicals into her drinking water? ...
"It is inappropriate and indefensible for us as a body to move forward on a bill so quickly when the public has had absolutely no opportunity to know the bill would be on the calendar," said Rep. Paul Luebke, D-Durham. Democrats tried but failed to delay the vote by a day to give the public time to weigh in. "Why not give the public some confidence that what we did today, whether they agree with it or not, was done appropriately and transparently?" asked House Minority Leader Larry Hall...
Asked about criticism the measure was moving too quickly, Tillis called that "disingenuous," ...But why move so quickly Wednesday? "I think it's just a matter of why not get it done?" Tillis said...
The bill must pass one final House floor vote, expected Thursday. After that, it returns to the Senate for approval of the House's changes to the original proposal. If the Senate agrees, it could be on the governor's desk by the end of the week.
'Fracking' bill headed to House
May 22 By Mark Binker WRAL
The state Senate voted 35-12 Thursday to send a measure that would lift the state's ban on a natural gas drilling process known as "fracking" next summer as opponents raised water quality concerns. Although laws passed during prior sessions had paved the way for fracking, this bill would speed up approvals. Under current law, the soonest a permit could be issued would likely have been sometime in 2016. The measure that passed the Senate would require the state to start issuing permits on July 1, 2015, even if some rules governing the process are not fully in place.... The original draft of a bill would have made unlawfully disclosing those chemicals a felony... An amendment offered by Sen. Chad Barefoot, R-Wake, lowered that offense to a misdemeanor. read article
Fast-track 'fracking' bill moves quickly
By Mark Binker May 20, 2014 WRAL
A bill that would clear the way for natural gas drilling in North Carolina garnered quick approval from two key Senate committees Tuesday, moving swiftly through a process that would normally take two days or more. ...
"North Carolina needs the jobs, and America needs the energy," [Sen. Buck Newton, R-Wilson] said.
"We can't have fracking in this state and protect our water quality," said Elizabeth Ouzts, director for Environment North Carolina... "It prematurely lifts the moratorium"
...Lawmakers moved the measure through both the Commerce and Finance committees Tuesday. ...Rucho said the unusual move was taken as part of an overall effort to keep this summer's "short" session on schedule... The bill now moves on to the full Senate for approval. It would then go to the House for consideration. read article
Climate Change Adjustments Must Be Fast And Major, U.N. Panel Says
by NELL GREENFIELDBOYCE April 13, 2014
A new report from the United Nations' panel on climate change says major action is needed, and fast, if policymakers want to limit global warming to acceptable levels. There's an international target to control climate change: keeping the global temperature rise to just 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels — that's 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change now says it's technically possible to meet that goal. But doing so will require rapid, large-scale shifts in energy production and use. read article
Duke Energy refused to share possible effects of coal ash dam breaches
April 2, 2014 WRAL
By Tyler Dukes
For more than three years, Duke Energy used a provision in a 2009 state law tightening coal ash pond regulations to refuse to provide environmental regulators and emergency responders with information about potential damage from failed dams. Officials from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources say Duke has failed to provide maps that detail how breaches in 29 of the state's 46 high-hazard coal ash dams would affect surrounding areas. Known as inundation maps, these documents form a crucial part of emergency action plans in the event a dam fails. North Carolina is one of 10 states in the country that does not require dam owners to file these emergency action plans... read article
Duke: Disposal of coal ash impossible if EPA declares it hazardous
by Craig Jarvis April 1, 2014
As underlined by an environmental group last week, there are no clear answers about where the more than 100 million tons of Duke Energy coal ash is supposed to go to make it safe and secure. The Sierra Club, the Catawba Riverkeeper and the Southern Environmental Law Center say it should be hauled off to lined landfills... Duke Energy, in a recent court filing, elaborates on the dilemma: “There is no adequately sized lined landfill available to receive this quantity of ash at any Duke Energy facility or at pre-existing offsite landfills within North Carolina...” Duke attorney James Cooney III writes... Cooney notes in his brief that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will decide in December whether coal ash – which has not been regulated – should be classified as a hazardous waste or a solid waste.
“Should the EPA classify coal ash as a ‘hazardous waste,’ disposing of the coal ash in any existing landfill would be impossible and transporting coal ash would become practically impossible,” Cooney writes. That means whatever happens to North Carolina’s 2,800 acres of coal ash depends on what the EPA does, he adds... Duke has said it plans to move the ash from three of its 14 plants once it gets permits, accelerate closure of a fourth site, convert to dry ash at all remaining facilities, and start “dewatering” the remaining retired plant coal ash ponds. read article
Duke Energy roundup: keeping records private, shareholders upset, and Locke Foundation makes snowballs in hell
Submitted by teddyrooseveltp Sat, 03/29/2014
Duke Energy has filed a motion with a Federal judge asking that records requested during the Federal investigation into the company's coal ash debacle be kept from state regulators and environmental groups that had sued Duke Energy... Frank Holleman, senior staff attorney with the environmental law group, said Duke's motion is a stalling tactic. "They are using the fact that they are caught up in a federal criminal investigation related to their coal ash storage as an excuse to try to postpone the enforcement of the law against them," he said. "It's exactly backward from how you think the law would operate."
Meanwhile, a group of 20 institutional shareholders wrote a letter to Duke Energy's Board of Directors to call for a probe of the coal ash spill... Last Sunday, Duke Energy took out a full-page ad in newspapers around the state, saying the company wants to regain the confidence of North Carolinians. IndyWeek
reported earlier in the week that a movement against the Duke Energy monopoly has emerged, joining strange bedfellows, progressive NCWARN and the right-wing extremist John Locke Foundation...
You know things must be completely out of control if one of Art Pope's stink tanks agrees with progressives on something. read article
State tests find poison near ash ponds
March 28, 2014 By Laura Leslie WRAL
State environmental regulators announced Friday that tests of surface water found thallium, a highly toxic metal, near two coal ash ponds. According to a release from the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources, tests of surface water near coal ash ponds at Duke Energy's Cliffside plant in Gaston County found levels of thallium that exceeded recommended water quality standards for drinking water supplies. read article
Sierra Club poll finds support for coal ash regulation in NC
March 25, 2014
By Timothy Cama
In the wake of a February incident that caused coal ash from a Duke Energy Corp. plant to flow into the Dan River, the Sierra Club released a poll Tuesday showing the state’s residents want officials to do more to protect the environment the pollutant.
The poll, commissioned by the Sierra Club and completed by Hart Research Associates, showed that a strong majority of North Carolina residents want regulations to prevent coal ash spills. Majorities of North Carolina residents also think the state is not doing enough to protect waterways and public health from pollution. read article
Enviros: Keep coal ash out of NC landfills
By Laura Leslie March 24, 2014 WRAL
Two environmental groups are warning state leaders against allowing Duke Energy to clean up its coal ash pits in North Carolina by shipping the ash to solid-waste landfills. A report released Monday by the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League says Duke should be required to store the ash safely at its own sites, using hazardous-waste storage technology approved by the U.S. Department of Energy.
BREDL Director Lou Zeller says the liners used in municipal waste sites are not truly leak-proof and won't keep toxins in coal ash from leaching into nearby groundwater. read/watch video
Just in: Judge denies Duke’s request for stay on clean-up of coal ash
Sarah Ovaska March 20, 2014
Here’s the latest in the civil court case involving Duke Energy and the clean-up of coal-ash ponds. Click here for background on the case.
Wake Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway denied a request Thursday from the utility company to delay a previous order to start immediately dealing with contamination from coal-ash ponds Duke maintains around the state. Duke had asked that the clean-up be delayed while it appealed Ridgeway’s decision earlier this month to order Duke to take immediate action to stop contamination by coal-ash ponds. Today’s order means that Duke must be forward with plans to clean up the ponds. read article
Duke Energy's coal ash ponds in Chatham County under scrutiny
BY CRAIG JARVIS March 17, 2014 N&O
State environmental regulators are investigating whether Duke Energy has been pumping toxic coal-ash wastewater into the Cape Fear River in Chatham County.
Officials with the Charlotte-based utility deny any wrongdoing and say workers have been lowering the level of two ponds at the closed plant to conduct routine maintenance... A spokesman for the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources said Monday the agency is checking to see whether it was informed and is still investigating whether the discharge was toxic. read article
DENR pushing Duke to clear ash at three plants
March 14, 2014 By Matthew Burns WRAL
State regulators said Friday that they plan to use wastewater permits to force Duke Energy to clean up the coal ash ponds at three of its North Carolina power plants. Duke Chief Executive Lynn Good said in a Wednesday letter to Gov. Pat McCrory and Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources John Skvarla that the utility plans move the ash from ponds at plants in Gaston County and Asheville to lined pits and is considering a similar move at its Wilmington plant.
DENR said it wants to ensure those actions are taken. "Although Duke committed to near-term actions, the response lacked the detail necessary to ensure Duke Energy abides by the commitments outlined in their letter,” Skvarla said in a statement. “Reopening these permits allows DENR to ensure that Duke Energy resolves this long-standing issue at these facilities.” read article
Climate change links vanish from DENR website
By Laura Leslie March 11, 2014 WRAL
Links and documents about climate change have recently disappeared from the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources website.
As recently as Jan. 21, information about climate change was available on the front page of the Division of Air Quality's website. Sometime in the last two months, the page was edited to remove the link. The link used to connect users to a page full of information and resources about greenhouse gases and climate change. That page no longer exists, either...
DENR Secretary John Skvarla has made no secret of his skepticism on the issue. In an interview with WRAL.com on Jan. 4, 2013, Skvarla was asked whether he believes climate change "is a fact." "I think climate change is a science, and science is constantly in need of scrutiny," he responded. "I don't think climate change is something you just put the needle on the record and say it's fixed..." Gov. Pat McCrory voiced the same skepticism on the CBS News program "Face the Nation" ...
"I feel that there's always been climate change. The debate is, really, how much of it is man-made and how much will it cost to have any impact on climate change..."
Dustin Chicurel Bayard with the Sierra Club says the so-called "debate" isn't one, at least in terms of the scientific community.
"Climate change is accepted. Climate change is real. It's a fact. It is man-made," Chicurel-Bayard said. "Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree that climate change is happening." He said policymakers, planners, engineers and the public should have access to information that can help them plan long-term projects, like roads, bridges and other infrastructure. "This shouldn't be about opinion. This should be about science and facts and information, and that should be readily available, especially when North Carolina taxpayers have already spent money on studies," he added. "The public deserves better." read article
Protesters greet Duke Energy shareholders meeting
May 01, 2014
by Associated Press
Some Duke Energy investors plan to push the utility's board of directors to investigate issues surrounding a massive coal ash spill that dumped toxic sludge into a 70-mile stretch of a North Carolina river. About 200 protesters gathered in front of the Duke Energy headquarters Thursday morning as the company held its annual shareholders meeting.
The Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP, told the protesters that the facts need to be brought out in the open. Barber said many of the coal ash pits are located in rural areas around minority communities... read article
Court Upholds EPA Rule on Cross-State Pollution
April 29, 2014 (AP)
By DINA CAPPIELLO and SAM HANANEL
In a major anti-pollution ruling, the Supreme Court on Tuesday backed federally imposed limits on smokestack emissions that cross state lines and burden downwind areas with bad air from power plants they can't control. The 6-2 ruling was an important victory for the Obama administration in controlling emissions from power plants in 27 Midwestern and Appalachian states that contribute to soot and smog along the East Coast.
It also capped a decades-long effort by the Environmental Protection Agency to ensure that states are good neighbors and don't contribute to pollution problems elsewhere. The rule upheld Tuesday was EPA's third attempt to solve the problem. read article
WNCN investigation gets answer on state's coal ash appeal
Apr 07, 2014 by WNCN Staff
The state of North Carolina has joined Duke Energy in appealing a judge's order for the utility to take immediate action to eliminate sources of groundwater contamination at its coal ash ponds. The N.C. Environmental Management Commission filed the appeal late Monday afternoon, just four days after Duke Energy said it can not immediately clean up the pits as required by Superior Court Judge Paul C. Ridgeway's March 6 order. Duke argued that it needed more time or else the cleanup "will impose significant material costs on Duke Energy and its customers as well as potentially affect its ability to generate power."
But the state’s decision to appeal left many scratching their heads. “Why would the state of North Carolina object to having strong authority to clean up illegal pollution?” asked attorney Frank Holleman with the Southern Environmental Law Center. read article
TELL NCUC: I SUPPORT NET METERING AND SOLAR ENERGY
Duke Energy is trying to thwart the growth of residential solar by undermining NC policies that allow rooftop solar customers to receive fair credit for the energy they contribute to the grid. Duke Energy wants to attack these policies, known as net metering policies, to protect its monopoly.
We need your help to let the NC Utilities Commission know that you support solar energy in North Carolina. Net metering supports solar energy generation and is a transition away from the use of dirty fossil fuels that pollute the air and water, threaten the public health and contribute to human-induced climate change.
Send a message--tell them you support net metering and solar energy! Click to Participate 4-17-14
Lawmakers call special coal ash meeting
By Mark Binker
April 3, 2014 WRAL
The legislature's environmental oversight committee will hold a special hearing on coal ash regulations April 22, reacting to the Feb. 2 Duke Energy ash spill in the Dan River and its aftermath. "The legislature needs to remain educated and briefed on this important issue. We expect to receive comprehensive updates from the stakeholders on the progress regarding the Dan River cleanup and planning for coal ash remediation for the remaining plants across the state," Rep. Samuelson, R-Mecklenburg, said in a statement... The meeting will be held April 22 at 1:30 p.m.
A movement emerges against the Duke Energy-Progress monopoly
by Bob Geary INDY Week March 26, 2014
Oh, how the mighty have fallen! Two years ago, when Duke Energy merged with Progress Energy—swallowed it, actually—you'd have been hard-pressed to find a public figure brave enough to question the giant utility monopoly that bestrode North Carolina. Or who called the merger a mistake. What could possibly be wrong with one company supplying the electricity to 95 percent of our state?
...Then a pipe broke in Eden on Feb. 2. And you know what came next. Coal ash poured into the Dan River from one of Duke Energy's ash pits. Old toxic holes in the ground that Duke (and Progress) should've been required to clean up long ago, except that North Carolina regulators don't tell Duke what to do, Duke tells them. And what of the N.C. Utilities Commission, which is supposed to make sure that Duke serves the public interest?...
It was a wounded Duke Energy that, on Sunday, bought full-page newspaper ads to say how sorry it is—and how it's "a privilege to serve you, our customers." Too late. Duke's façade is shattered, and it is now revealed to be what it is, a profit-seeking corporation that answers, first and foremost, to its shareholders. And in some quarters, we're hearing the question asked: Wouldn't North Carolina be better off, and have lower electricity rates, if we allowed competition in the market and stopped protecting Duke's monopoly? read article
US House votes to allow dumping of coal mining waste into streams
by Renee Schoof on March 25, 2014
The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a bill that would allow coal mining companies to return to an old practice of dumping mining waste into streams. House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican from Ohio, called it part of an effort to stop what Republicans call the “war on coal” and a “pro-growth jobs bill.” Triangle Republican members of Congress Renee Ellmers, Howard Coble and George Holding voted for it, as did Rep. Mike McIntyre, a Democrat. And Democratic Reps. David Price and G.K. Butterfield voted against it. The vote was 229-192... Deborah Murray, a senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, which challenged the rule in court, said in a statement: “We hope the Senate does not take up this damaging legislation, which would set a troubling precedent. read article
Pricey Harrison on MSNBC!
Spill, baby, spill
(Duke Energy piece starts at 2:45 on the video)
ALL IN 03/24/14 MSNBC
Chris Hayes talks to his panel about Duke Energy, a company caught dumping fossil fuel into a river. watch video
Duke Energy Caught Intentionally Dumping 61 Million Gallons Of Coal Waste Into North Carolina Water
BY EMILY ATKIN MARCH 21, 2014 Think Progress
North Carolina regulators on Thursday cited Duke Energy for illegally and deliberately dumping 61 million gallons of toxic coal ash waste into a tributary of the Cape Fear River, which provides drinking water for several cities and towns in the state. The incident marks the eighth time in less than a month that the company has been accused of violating environmental regulations. read article
On Sunshine Week: Public records, diligence reveal problems in DENR/Duke Energy relationship
3/20/2014 by Sarah Ovaska
NC Policy Watch
In fighting for the clean-up of coal ash ponds around the state, the Southern Environmental Law Center has depended on …North Carolina’s public records law, to make its case about the dangers posed by the lagoons of toxic sludge that dot the state. The group has…amassed thousands of pages of documents detailing the level of monitoring of the 30 plus coal-ash ponds and information about contamination of groundwater at 14 coal-fired plants owned by Duke Energy. An account of the state’s mixed track record of regulating Duke, the nation’s largest public utility with headquarters in Charlotte, has also emerged from those public records…
“Public records law and related laws and rules are absolutely essential to protecting North Carolina’s natural resources... For citizens that can’t get direct access to the private property where the pollution occurs, the only way to find out what’s going on is to go through the public records,” [says Frank Holleman, an attorney with Southern Environmental Law Center]... “It’s a cliché, but it’s definitely true – sunshine is the best disinfectant. If things are brought to light and things are brought to the public, change will often happen. If you have a questions about some park or natural resource or river in your area, it’s well worth going to DENR and your local city of county agency and asking for documents to see what’s really going on.” read article
Inspired to file your own public records request? Check out this guide published by N.C Attorney General’s Office.
Internal emails show Duke Energy, DENR negotiating coal ash clean up
March 13, 2014 WRAL
State environmental regulators and representatives of Duke Energy were in early and frequent contact soon after environmental groups threatened in January 2013 to sue the power company over contaminants leaking from its coal ash ponds. North Carolina would eventually sue the company itself, cutting off the Southern Environmental Law Center's attempt to take the lead in that litigation.
Emails obtained by the organization and released to media organizations Thursday show that officials for the company were in contact with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources soon after the SELC filed its notice to sue and maintained a close working relationship throughout the year.
"DENR is supposed to be a public agency that protects the public interest," said Frank Holleman, a lawyer for the SELC. "What you have here is a very cozy relationship between the law enforcement agency and the law breaker." read article
Duke CEO: Customers will cover coal ash removal
March 7 By Laura Leslie WRAL
Duke Energy Chief Executive Lynn Good said Friday that customers will shoulder most of the cost of emptying out the utility's 31 coal ash ponds in North Carolina... Duke spokeswoman Paige Sheehan ... stressed that the company, not its customers, will pay to clean up the recent 39,000-ton coal ash spill in the Dan River. But if the state requires the utility to close down and move its other existing ash pits, then utility customers, not shareholders, will likely pay most of that cost...Duke Chief Financial Officer Steve Young [said] "Approximately 85 percent of our expected environmental compliance investments will be in the Carolinas and Indiana. Both of these jurisdictions have a strong track record of allowing utilities to recover costs related to environmental compliance investments," Young said. Cost "recovery" means a utility's ability to charge its costs back to customers in higher rates, rather than taking costs out of company profits... read article
More metal pipes found at Duke coal ash sites
By Laura Leslie Mar. 5, 2014 WRAL
Corrugated metal pipes similar to the one that ruptured last month and caused a massive coal ash spill at a retired Duke Energy power plant in Eden are in use at eight other Duke plants in North Carolina, the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources said Wednesday.
The Feb. 2 spill in the Dan River prompted a review of Duke's 14 current and retired coal-fired plants statewide. The stormwater pipe in Eden was supposed to have been made of concrete, but the spill revealed that only the visible ends of the pipe were concrete and that cheaper corrugated metal had been used for the underground section of the conduit. At that time, Duke and state regulators said they believed the Dan River coal ash site was the only place the failure-prone metal pipes had been used. read story
Poll: One in four residents say they don't know about NC coal ash spill
Mar. 3, 2014 By Mark Binker WRAL
One out of every four North Carolina voters surveyed said they knew "nothing at all" about a coal ash spill that dumped nearly 40,000 tons of toxic ash into the Dan River, according to the most recent Elon University Poll. However, the fact that roughly three quarter of respondents say they know either "a lot" or "a little" about the spill is "remarkable," said Kenneth Fernandez, the poll's director.
The survey of 925 registered voters asked respondents whether they knew "a lot," "a little," or "nothing at all" about the spill, which has drawn statewide scrutiny to the practice of keeping coal waste in ponds perched near rivers used for drinking water and recreation. read article
Federal case looking at Duke Energy and state regulators begins to unfold
BY CRAIG JARVIS February 21, 2014
The subpoenas that the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Raleigh has served on state environmental regulators and Duke Energy over the past two weeks outline the path that federal prosecutors are taking.
They want to determine whether there was anything improper about the relationship between the power company and the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and see whether that allowed criminal violations of federal safeguards to go unchecked and even contributed to the massive coal ash spill into the Dan River earlier this month.
It’s an unusual case: federal authorities scrutinizing not only a company that polluted but also state regulators. Victor Flatt, an environmental law professor at UNC-Chapel Hill, said it’s not unprecedented for state regulators to clash with the federal government, particularly the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. But this case looks different, he said. “I do think this – investigating DENR’s own activities and the settlement – is unusual,” Flatt said. “It’s not unheard of, but it is unusual. If the state is doing something beyond what’s discretionary – acting improperly – that’s more unusual.” read article
Duke Energy's inside connections to the McCrory administrationBy Sue Sturgis 02/18/2014
Following Duke Energy's massive coal ash spill into the Dan River...the news broke that the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Charlotte, N.C.-based utility giant are the subjects of a federal criminal investigation for a "suspected felony." ...Adding to environmentalists' concern is the fact that Gov. Pat McCrory worked for Duke Energy for 28 years and received over $300,000 in direct campaign contributions from the company's political action committee and its employees, former employees, and their spouses. In all, McCrory's 2008 and 2012 gubernatorial campaigns benefited from a total of $1.1 million in political spending by Duke Energy, according to an analysis by Democracy North Carolina...In addition, McCrory still holds a substantial amount of stock in Duke Energy, though he has refused to say exactly how much... But McCrory is not the only member of his administration with close ties to Duke Energy and its Progress Energy subsidiary. Other former Duke/Progress employees who hold high-level positions in North Carolina state government... read article
Coal ash questions close to home across NC
Feb 21, 2104 WRAL
That may be hard to reconcile with the pictures of black, toxin-laced goop that poured into the Dan River from a retired Duke Energy power plant on Feb. 2. But power companies are currently allowed to store a slurry of water and the residual material left over from burning coal in unlined ponds that are environmentally less secure than a typical municipal landfill.
Many people live or work in buildings partially constructed from the same material that is reportedly leaching arsenic, mercury and other heaving metals into the Dan River. read article
Expert: Concerns about moving ash ponds 'pure speculation'
Feb. 19, 2014
At Wednesday's press conference about the Dan River coal ash spill and state regulation, state Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary John Skvarla said requiring Duke Energy to excavate and relocate its coal ash ponds in North Carolina to lined landfills could pose a risk to the environment... WRAL News asked DENR for a citation or source for the alleged concerns about environmental risk, but DENR was unable to provide any citation.
A renowned national expert on coal ash ponds at Duke University says that's because there isn't one.
Avner Vengosh of Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment has published...several peer-reviewed studies on contamination from North Carolina coal ash sites in at least 11 lakes and rivers... Told about Skvarla's comments, Vengosh says there's no published study that casts any doubt on whether moving coal ash out of leaky landfills is the best move for the environment... "You should follow the EPA guidance," he said. "The state, with all due respect, doesn't have the experience or expertise on the matter." read article/watch video
McCrory on defensive over coal ash spill
Feb 14, 2014 WRAL
A winter storm news conference Friday took a tense turn when reporters pushed Gov. Pat McCrory for details on his response to the recent Dan River coal ash spill. ...During the question-and-answer period after Friday's winter storm update, McCrory took exception to a reporter's question about whether he had communicated with Duke Energy or its lobbyists about his administration's intervention into those lawsuits. read full article/watch video
Feds launch criminal probe into coal ash spill
Feb. 13, 2014 WRAL
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Raleigh has opened a criminal investigation into a coal ash spill that dumped thousands of gallons of toxic sludge into the Dan River from a pond near a shuttered Duke Energy power plant. A subpoena issued to the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources orders representatives of the agency to deliver documents to a grand jury for up to three days starting March 18. WRAL News obtained copies of the subpoena through a public records request to DENR...
In the subpoena issued to the state, the federal government is seeking evidence related to the Feb. 2 spill from a waste pond near a power plant in Rockingham County. Such ponds contain the material left over after coal is burned for power generation. The dust is stored in a slurry, and contains hazardous material like mercury, arsenic and heavy metals. State health officials issued two warnings Wednesday for people to avoid swimming and eating fish caught near the spill site. read article
Judge: Duke Energy must halt coal ash pond contamination
By Laura Leslie and Matthew Burns March 6, 2014 WRAL
Duke Energy must take "immediate action" to stop toxins leaking from coal ash ponds at its North Carolina power plants and develop a plan to clean up contaminated groundwater at the sites, a Superior Court judge ruled Thursday.
Environmental groups hailed the ruling as a first step toward possibly cleaning up the 31 ash ponds at Duke's 14 current or retired coal-fired power plants across the state. "The ruling leaves no doubt: Duke Energy is past due on its obligation to eliminate the sources of groundwater contamination – its unlined coal ash pits – and the state has both the authority and a duty to require action now,” D.J. Gerken, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center, which represented the four environmental groups in the case, said in a statement. “This ruling enforces a common-sense requirement in existing law. Before you can clean up contaminated groundwater, you first must stop the source of the contamination – in this case, Duke’s unlined coal ash pits.” read story
DENR: Six Duke Energy plants lack stormwater permits
Mar. 3, 2014 WRAL
Duke Energy failed to get permits it needed at six power plants to discharge rainwater from those sites into nearby rivers and streams, according to notices of violation the state Department of Environment made public Monday. The state issued two "notices of violation" on Friday to the Dan River Steam station, the retired power plant where a ruptured stormwater pipe allowed nearly 40,000 tons of coal ash to spill into the Dan River near Eden on Feb. 2. Those notices threatened $25,000-per-day fines for discharging water into the river without a permit and undisclosed fines for other water-quality violations... On Monday, the state announced it had issued similar notices to five more plants around the state, including plants in Goldsboro, Roxboro, Wilmington, Stokes County and Rutherford County. The notices indicate that the company never had permission to allow stormwater, which could be carrying pollutants concentrated by the coal-burning process, into nearby rivers. read story/watch videos
DENR threatens Duke with fines over coal ash spill
By Mark Binker Feb. 28, 2014 WRAL
North Carolina's Department of Environment and Natural Resources put Duke Energy on notice Friday that the company could be fined over the Feb. 2 coal ash spill into the Dan River. Environmental regulators issued two "notices of violation" telling the company that it had violated state and federal clean water rules, although the exact size of any fine is uncertain. "The starting points will depend upon what we learn in our investigation," said DENR spokesman Jamie Kritzer.
In the first notice, the state threatens a fine of up to $25,000 per day for discharging water into the Dan River without a permit. Duke Energy first reported the spill on Feb. 2, but Kritzer said the exact number of days that would be used to calculate the fine would depend upon what the agency could prove. DENR used a second notice to enumerate other possible water quality violations and warn the company that it could face further fines over and above the $25,000 per day. read article
Ash Spill Shows How Watchdog Was Defanged
By TRIP GABRIEL
FEB. 28, 2014
New York Times
...Critics say the accident, the third-largest coal ash spill on record, is inextricably linked to the state’s new environmental politics and reflects an enforcement agency led by a secretary who suggested that oil was a renewable resource and an assistant secretary who, as a state lawmaker, drew a bull’s-eye on a window in his office framing the environmental agency’s headquarters.“They’re terrified,” said John Dorney, a retired supervisor who keeps in touch with many current employees. “Now these people have to take a deep breath and say, ‘I know what the rules require, but what does the political process want me to do?’ ” read article
Hagan says coal ash issue needs study
Feb. 24, 2014 WRAL
U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, a Democrat, said she wants to study how best to handle coal ash, the toxin-laced material that spilled from a decommissioned Duke Energy power plant on the Dan River and now covers 70 miles of stream bed in North Carolina and Virginia. "I think we in North Carolina have really woken up to the disastrous problem that has just recently taken place here," Hagan said Monday shortly after she filed the paperwork to file for re-election. "We've got to be sure that we clean this up and make sure this doesn't happen again."
...The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is due to publish regulations by mid-December that would determine how the federal government should regulate coal ash ponds. Regulators could either require that coal ash be regulated as hazardous, and therefore subject to stricter controls, or nonhazardous. As part of a separate action, a bill that has passed the U.S. House and is pending in the Senate would direct the EPA to treat the material as nonhazardous and by and large allow the states to largely regulate coal ash. Asked about this bill, Hagan said the entire landscape of coal ash needed more study. read article
Spill spotlights McCrory ties to Duke Energy
RACHEL MADDOW 02/14/14 MSNBC
Rachel Maddow reports on the growing pressure on North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory for his connection to the Duke Energy and a toxic coal ash spill.
Subpoena looks for dirty deal in toxic spill
RACHEL MADDOW 02/13/14
Michael Gerrard, professor of environmental law at Columbia University, talks with Rachel Maddow about a NC federal investigation into a coal ash leak disaster. watch video
RACHEL MADDOW 02/10/14
Warnings ignored ahead of toxic NC spill
Rachel Maddow reports on how NC state regulators got in the way of environmental lawsuits against an energy company that is now responsible for a toxic spill. watch video
How Gov McCrory And Dirty Energy Just Screwed Over NC’s Dan River
DEBORAH MONTESANO FEBRUARY 9, 2014 Addicting Info
...Gov McCrory Virtually Gave Duke Energy Permission To Pollute The River. The irresponsibility and sleight-of-hand are very reminiscent of West Virginia’s chemical spill last month, which still lingers as a problem in the water there... One of [Pat McCrory's] first major ‘achievements’ was to cut a deal with Duke Energy last July that basically gave the company a free pass for past pollution and allowed it to continue letting contaminants leach into the soil for as long as it likes. Every citizen of the state ought to sit up and pay attention to the details.
The Follies: McCrory needs to do more than issue a news release
2/7/2014 by Chris Fitzsimon NC Policy Watch
One of the silliest headlines of week came in a news release from Governor Pat McCrory’s press office—“Governor McCrory Directs Duke Energy to Bring Coal Ash Spill Under Control.” That ought to get things cleaned up immediately. It’s nice of McCrory to get involved but simply directing his former employer to do what they must do anyway doesn’t accomplish anything.
If McCrory really wants to help with the massive coal ash spill in the Dan River, he can launch an investigation into how the spill happened in the first place and how long it took for the company to notify the public. He can create a task force to take a serious look at the regulation of coal ash in North Carolina. And he can tell his Department of Environment and Natural Resources to take more samples of the river closer to where the 82,000 tons of toxic coal ash tumbled into the water. read article
Whistling past the environmental graveyard
1/22/2014 by Rob Schofield
NC Policy Watch
NC DENR secretary urges employees not to sweat their agency’s demise.
...Pat McCrory – fresh off an electoral victory fueled in part by his late-career embrace of Tea Party politics — has, of course, been forced to confront the anti-government/
governance dilemma. ...most of his [department head] selections have been cut from ultra-conservative cloth.
[One] controversial hire was the man chosen to head the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (perennially one of the right’s chief targets) – corporate executive and climate change questioner John Skvarla. Since his selection a year ago, Skvarla has dutifully overseen and implemented what can only be described as an aggressive downsizing of the state’s environmental protection efforts. As was noted yesterday on The Progressive Pulse blog:
“... Whether it’s the efforts to deny climate change and sea-level rise, fast-track fracking and off-shore oil drilling, stop efforts to clean up Jordan Lake, build artificial sea walls along the coast, roll back scores of rules and regulations, pack various commissions and boards with advocates hostile to environmental protection, limit land preservation, slash funding or just defund, demoralize, break up and change the mission statement of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources itself, the conservative agenda has been (and continues to be) a long and ambitious one.”
Rolling back important progress on solar power
1/28/2014 by Rob Schofield NC Policy Watch
Duke Energy fights to keep profits trumping the common good
There’s been precious little good news on the environmental front of late... One bright and extremely hopeful exception to this trend has been the rapid progress and, in some places downright explosive growth, in solar power. ...people all over the world are embracing and demanding the clean, sustainable electricity that solar power can provide... To make matters even more hopeful, solar has a large and growing cadre of supporters and adherents on the political right who see it as means of securing American energy independence and helping entrepreneurs to bring more competition to the nation’s regulated electric monopolies. Sounds like an obvious and encouraging win-win situation, right?
As usual, big money is the problem
...Here in North Carolina, the battle is soon to be joined over something known as “net metering.” This is the eminently logical and reasonable, but hard-won public policy under which individual homes and business customers who outfit their buildings with solar panels to generate electricity can, effectively, run their electric meters “backwards.” ...the concept has obvious and potentially huge ramifications for the future of electricity generation. As more and more solar panels are manufactured and installed and technology advances, the chance that truly significant segments of the societal demand for electricity can be met by such means starts to look more and more plausible... Unfortunately, North Carolina’s monopoly electricity provider...Duke Energy, has different plans. The giant, multi-billion dollar corporation has signaled its intention to seek an end to net metering in its present form.
A JOURNALISTIC COLLABORATION ON CLIMATE CHANGE. Winter Does Not Disprove Global Warming
JAN. 4 2014 By Chris Mooney Slate
One more reason not to listen to Donald Trump. An intense blizzard, appropriately named Hercules, has blanketed the Northeast. Antarctic ice locked in a Russian ship containing a team of scientists—en route, no less, to do climate research. Record low temperatures have been seen in parts of the United States, and in Winnipeg, Manitoba, temperatures on Dec. 31, 2013 were as cold as temperatures on ... Mars.
So as is their seasonal wont, here come the climate skeptics. read article
EPA Funds for Fracking Impact Study Rejected by North Carolina Officials
October 3, 2013
Mint Press News By Trisha Marczak
North Carolina’s mining and energy commissioners are in the midst of a fracking battle--and they’re winning. They’re arguing that the state’s regulations for clean water protection are over-the-top and unnecessary, all while corralling anti-fracking advocates into the same category as Bigfoot believers... Commissioners are going so far as to recommend a rollback of what are now considered the strictest protections in the nation, to the dismay of landowners living near and above natural gas reserves. As it stands, operators have to test local wells before fracking begins, in order to provide a “before” sample... read article
U.N. panel says it's "extremely likely" climate change is predominantly man-made
CBS/AP/ September 27, 2013
STOCKHOLM --Scientists can now say with extreme confidence that human activity is the dominant cause of the climate change observed since the 1950s, a new report by an international scientific group said Friday.
Calling man-made warming "extremely likely," the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change used the strongest words yet on the issue as it adopted its assessment on the state of the climate system. "It's not just about surface temperature change. It's amazing how many other things we can attribute human influence to..." read article
Petition to the WMO to name extreme storms after climate change deniers.
Since 1954, the World Meteorological Organization has been naming extreme storms after people. As scientific evidence shows that climate change is creating increasingly frequent and devastating storms, and with climate scientists declaring these extreme weather events as the new normal, we propose a new naming system. A system that names extreme storms caused by climate change, after the policy makers who deny climate change and obstruct climate policy. watch funny video/sign petition
Let's be honest--the global warming debate isn't about science
by Dana Nuccitelli The Guardian 4 October 2013
The scientific evidence on human-caused global warming is clear. Opposition stems from politics, not science.
...There are of course open questions yet to be answered by climate scientists--precisely how sensitive the climate is to the increased greenhouse effect, for example. But even in a best case, low sensitivity scenario, we're headed for dangerously rapid climate change if we continue on our current business as usual path. And the worst case scenario, which is just as likely as the best case scenario, would mean we're headed for a global catastrophe.
The IPCC warns that if we want to avoid very dangerous climate change, we're on track to blow through our allowed carbon budget in as little as two to three decades if we continue on our current path of relying on fossil fuels. If we're lucky and the low sensitivity scenario is accurate, perhaps we'll have an extra decade or two, but even in this best case scenario, we're on an unsustainable climate path.
Politically biased media climate coverage is not a coincidence. The scientific evidence is what it is, and it has no political bias. The same is not true of the media outlets that cover the topic. It's not a coincidence that politically conservative tabloids and newspapers like the Daily Mail, Telegraph, Australian, and Wall Street Journal spend a disproportionate amount of time amplifying the voices of the less than 3 percent of climate contrarian scientists, as well as many non-scientist contrarians. read article
Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reached New Highs In 2012, World Meterological Organization Says By Tom Miles Huffington Post (Reuters)
Nov 6, 2013
Atmospheric volumes of greenhouse gases blamed for climate change hit a new record in 2012, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) said on Wednesday.
"For all these major greenhouse gases the concentrations are reaching once again record levels," WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud told a news conference in Geneva at which he presented the U.N. climate agency's annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin... read article
Jordan Lake Rules on hold with McCrory's signature
By Bruce Mildwurf WRAL August 23
Gov. Pat McCrory signed legislation Friday that will delay for three years regulations designed to clean up Jordan Lake. Jordan Lake has been "impaired" by pollution, much of it nutrient-filled runoff that feeds algae, since it was constructed by the federal government decades ago. The so-called Jordan Lakes Rules were put in place in 2009
... much of the cost of cleaning up the lake was incurred by communities in Triad region, where streams that feed the lake originate. Although communities in Alamance, Guilford and Rockingham counties have paid to upgrade sewage treatment plants, rules that would require other measures and potentially limit development in the lake's watershed haven't gone into effect yet. With McCrory's signature on Senate Bill 515, they are on hold until 2016.
At NC environmental regulator, loyalty to McCrory will run deep
By Tyler Dukes
Aug 9, 2013
More than 100 state environmental regulators who will implement upcoming legislative decisions on natural gas drilling, offshore oil exploration and changes to air and water quality rules will soon do so as “exempt” employees who can be fired without cause or appeal. read article
High Levels of Arsenic Found in Groundwater Near Fracking Sites
By Theodoric Meyer and ProPublica
Scientific American Aug. 8, 2013
A recently published study by researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington found elevated levels of arsenic and other heavy metals in groundwater near natural gas fracking sites in Texas’ Barnett Shale. read article
'Fracking' bill goes to governor
By Laura Leslie
WRAL July 23, 2013
A bill to ease regulations on a natural gas drilling process known as "fracking" in North Carolina has won final approval and is headed to the desk of Gov. Pat McCrory.
The final compromise version of Senate Bill 76 is far more modest than the original measure, which would have allowed fracking to move ahead March 1, 2015, without an additional vote by state lawmakers. That provision is absent from the final measure, which reinstates the original requirement for legislative approval of the rules for fracking before permits can be issued and drilling can begin. read article
McCrory, GOP make last-minute push to lift state's fracking moratorium
by John Frank 2013-07-24
Gov. Pat McCrory came to the legislative building Wednesday evening to whip votes on a newly crafted measure to lift the state's moratorium on fracking.
The fracking provision -- which would lift the moratorium July 1, 2015 -- is tucked into a proposed conference report on Senate Bill 127, a measure to reorganize the state's commerce department and privatize part of the state's job recruitment efforts.
Duke Energy, state to settle ash lawsuit
By Bruce Henderson
Jul. 15, 2013
North Carolina’s environmental agency and Duke Energy proposed a settlement Monday in a lawsuit that said coal ash stored at the Riverbend power plant threatens Charlotte’s water supply. In a proposed order that will be open for public comment for 30 days, Duke agrees to assess the sources and extent of contamination at Riverbend and at its Asheville power plant. Duke would be fined $99,000 if the order becomes final.
The environmental groups that prodded the state to take legal action lambasted the agreement as toothless...Frank Holleman, a senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center, said the order could have forced Duke to take immediate steps to stop the contamination. “It gives Duke amnesty for its past pollution in return for a token penalty that amounts to a parking ticket for contaminating Mountain Island Lake,” he said. “And it doesn’t stop one ounce of pollution from entering that lake in the future.” read article
Fracking water injection could trigger major earthquake, say scientists
New studies suggest injecting water for geothermal power or fracking can lead to larger earthquakes than previously thought
Natalie Starkey guardian.co.uk,11 July 2013
Pumping water underground at geothermal power plants can lead to dangerous earthquakes even in regions not prone to tremors, according to scientists...It is already known that pumping large quantities of water underground can induce minor earthquakes near to geothermal power generation and fracking sites. However, the new evidence reveals the potential for much larger earthquakes, of magnitude 4 or 5, related to the weakening of pre-existing undergrounds faults through increased fluid pressure. read article
The President's Action Plan to Fight Climate Change
June 26, 2013
Yesterday, in a 45-minute speech at Georgetown University, President Obama laid out a comprehensive plan to reduce greenhouse gas pollution in America, prepare our country for the impacts of climate change, and lead global efforts to fight it. The Plan is a recognition that climate change is unequivocal, its primary cause is greenhouse gas pollution from burning fossil fuels, and it is threatening the health of our communities, families, and economy. see action plan page, or go directly to:
Obama Administration Approved Carbon Price Increase Amid Obscure Microwave Ovens Measure
By Chris Gentilviso 06/13/2013
Back in January, President Barack Obama proclaimed in his State of the Union speech that if Congress did not act on climate change, his administration would. In a recent Office of Management and Budget order, the administration did just that -- in quiet fashion.
On May 31, the Department of Energy announced new efficiency standards for microwave ovens. The change was lauded as a move that would "dramatically reduce harmful carbon pollution."
A large part of the ability to accomplish that goal was an adjustment by the Obama administration to increase the social cost of carbon. read article
Drilling bill headed to conference committee
by Matthew Burns
June 12, 2013
The Senate voted overwhelmingly Wednesday against changes the House approved to legislation that would open up North Carolina to natural gas drilling..."The House did a remarkable number" on the bill, said sponsor Sen. Buck Newton, R-Wilson, calling on senators not to concur with the House changes.
The Senate voted 41-8 against concurrence, sending the legislation to a conference committee. read story
Fracking changes head for House floor
WRAL By Laura Leslie
June 6, 2013
The House version of a Senate bill that would fast-track fracking in North Carolina is headed for a floor vote after an okay Thursday by the House Environment committee.
The rewrite of Senate Bill 76 restores several key safeguards and protections Senate leaders wanted to remove from current law, most notably a requirement that lawmakers must vote to approve the final rules before fracking can begin in 2015.
The Senate version would allow the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to allow fracking to start without legislative approval. read article
May 1, 2013
"The science is clear," climate scientist Emily Shuckburgh told an audience of nearly 800 people at San Francisco's Palace of Fine Arts on March 4. "Our collective actions have generated a climate problem that threatens our future and our children's future." Shuckburgh's talk was part of the Mathematics of Planet Earth 2013 Simons Public Lecture Series....
Shuckburgh painted a grim picture of the planet's future if we fail to curb carbon emissions, and emphasized that we have years, not decades, in which to come up with solutions to this massive problem. At the same time, she portrayed climate change not just as a threat, but also as an opportunity. "If our collective actions have generated this problem, our collective actions can also help address this problem," she said. read article
Tom Zeller Jr.
The Huffington Post
Public opinion on the topic of climate change is notoriously fickle, changing -- quite literally sometimes -- with the weather. The latest bit of evidence on this: Yale's April 2013 climate change survey, which found, among other things, that Americans' conviction that global warming is happening had dropped by seven points, to 63 percent, over the preceding six months. The decline, the authors surmised, was most likely due to "the cold winter of 2012-13 and an unusually cold March just before the survey was conducted."
...It is this reason that prompted a team of researchers to painstakingly comb through the abstracts of more than 12,000 scientific articles published between 1991 and 2011 to determine just how much scientific agreement exists on the subject of climate change, and humanity's role in driving it. The team was led by John Cook, a Climate Communication Fellow ...The results, published Thursday in the journal Environmental Research Letters, were clear: of the more than 4,000 abstracts that had anything to say about human-driven climate change, 97 percent endorsed the notion. A little less than 3 percent either rejected the idea or remained undecided.
"There is a gaping chasm between the actual consensus and the public perception," Cook said... read article
INDY Week, by Lisa Sorg
March 06, 2013
... if global temperatures continue to rise, as they're expected to do, it's not unthinkable that by 2100 local bananas could sit in bins alongside new heat-tolerant varieties of North Carolina apples.
The results of climate change--hellfire summers, intense hurricanes, long droughts punctuated by deluges of biblical proportions--are already altering the way crops pollinate, mature and produce. Over time, they could change what we eat and when we eat it: Local farmers could grow new types of fruits and vegetables that were traditionally raised farther south, and local food could become scarcer in summer and more abundant in late fall. read article
By Laura Leslie and Matthew Burns
February 26, 2013
The Senate gave key approval Tuesday to legislation rolling back some of the safeguards in the state's natural gas drilling law.
Senate Bill 76 passed its second reading by a 38-10 vote. Although it passed a third reading by a voice vote, staffers realized after the fact that votes are required on separate days because it involves revenue.
A final Senate vote is expected Wednesday, after which, the bill will head to the House. read article
Over the past decade, the oil and gas industry has fused two technologies --hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling--to unlock new supplies of fossil fuels in underground rock formations across the United States. “Fracking” has spread rapidly, leaving a trail of contaminated water, polluted air, and marred landscapes in its wake. In fact, a growing body of data indicates that fracking is an environmental and public health disaster in the making. read article
We Are All Connected
Aug 23, 2013
On this 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's March On Washington, let's remember what we have in common. People around the county are rising up, together. Join the rallies in North Carolina now! watch video
State bill takes aim at 'green' laws
WRAL August 14, 2013
Durham County’s effort to encourage greener living could be a thing of the past.
A bill awaiting the signature of Gov. Pat McCrory would invalidate the county’s Commute Trip Reduction Ordinance, a law implemented in 1999 that requires large employers to suggest carpooling, public transportation and bike-to-work programs to its employees.
House Bill 74 would make ordinances such as Durham County’s illegal. read article
New Law in North Carolina Bans Latest Scientific Predictions of Sea-Level Rise
By ALON HARISH CBS Aug. 2, 2012
A new law in North Carolina will ban the state from basing coastal policies on the latest scientific predictions of how much the sea level will rise, prompting environmentalists to accuse the state of disrespecting climate science.
The law has put the state in the spotlight for what critics have called nearsightedness and climate change denial, but its proponents said the state needed to put a moratorium on predictions of sea level rise until scientific techniques improve. read article
Commerce reorganization and fracking changes don't pass
By Mark Binker WRAL July 26, 2013
Lawmakers dealt Gov. Pat McCrory's plan to reorganize much of the Commerce Department into a public-private partnership a setback in the early hours of Friday morning.
The state Senate adjourned for the year without taking up Senate Bill 127, a bill aimed at streamlining the state's job retention and recruitment process.
Although the Commerce Department provisions were not very controversial, lawmakers attached a controversial environmental provision during the waning days of session. That measure would have lifted a key safeguard on hydraulic fracturing in the state, ending a moratorium on the procedure used to extract natural gas before rules were fully in place.
Biggest potential change to 'fracking' law not in bill
By Mark Binker and Laura Leslie
July 19, 2013
House and Senate lawmakers have worked out their differences over a bill that will make dozens of changes to the state laws governing natural gas drilling. That bill abandons several provisions that had troubled environmental watchdogs...It no longer contains language that would have cleared the way for disposing of fluids used in..."fracking" by injecting them into the ground elsewhere ... The bill also maintains the current timeline for issuing drilling permits... Earlier drafts of the bill would have removed the requirement for a legislative vote and allowed for a pre-permitting process. read article
Aggregate Supply, Aggregate Demand, and Coal
by Paul Krugman
June 26, 2013
... I did want to say something about President Obama’s new climate initiative--which has, by the way, received weirdly little coverage ...people who are serious about climate policy regard this as what Joe Biden would call a BFD. Not only does it offer a chance of substantial action despite Republican obstruction, there was a tone to the speech suggesting that Obama may put serious effort into this thing, that he may see climate policy as the big legacy of his second term
...while the usual suspects will denounce all this as job-destroying regulation, tougher climate policy will, almost surely, be job-creating, not job-destroying, under current conditions...In short, everything you’re going to hear about the downside of the new regulations will be wrong, at least for the short to medium run. read article
Shearon Harris reactor coming back to life
WRAL June 7, 2013
The nuclear reactor at Shearon Harris was operating at about 7 percent power Friday morning, about a week after a quarter-inch flaw in a reactor sensor was repaired.
Duke Energy Progress had to take the plant in southwest Wake County offline on May 15 because of the flaw, which if left unchecked, could have led to a crack. No radioactive material leaked from the plant, and public health and safety was never in danger, company officials said. The NRC ...has scheduled a public meeting for 6 p.m. June 13 at the Holly Springs Cultural Center, when officials will discuss the preliminary findings of the inspection team. A final report won't be available until July. read article
By JUSTIN GILLIS May 10, 2013
The level of the most important heat-trapping gas in the atmosphere, carbon dioxide, has passed a long-feared milestone, scientists reported Friday, reaching a concentration not seen on the earth for millions of years.
Scientific instruments showed that the gas had reached an average daily level above 400 parts per million — just an odometer moment in one sense, but also a sobering reminder that decades of efforts to bring human-produced emissions under control are faltering.
The best available evidence suggests the amount of the gas in the air has not been this high for at least three million years...read article
Democratic Women of Chatham County have been educating themselves on the dangers of fracking and they are ready for action to keep the ban on fracking in place. They’ve put together a very powerful petition that will educate each of us on the issues. So please, read it and sign it.
The signed petition will go with a strong cover letter to all the legislators, and the mining & energy commission. The letter will reference the recent court case in California where a Federal Judge ruled that federal authorities broke the law when they leased land to oil and gas drillers without considering the environmental impacts of fracking. This decision recognizes that fracking poses new, unique risks to air, water, and wildlife that government can't ignore. We will forewarn the legislators of all the dangers by listing them and indicating the scientific data source. Being forewarned of the dangers we will ask them to do their legislative duty and to ban fracking. Fracking would be a terrible legacy to leave our children. Sign Petition
Another round of shaving environmental regulations is proposed in a bill introduced by a group of Republican state senators this week.
SB612 would do several things, including:
Prohibit cities and counties from enacting ordinances that are more stringent than state or federal regulations.
Eliminate riparian buffer protections that prohibit development on private property along the Neuse River and the Tar-Pamlico River basins. more
by George GAO
Nation Of Change
March 10, 2013
“What they’re finding in Pennsylvania are people with rashes, nosebleeds, people with serious abdominal pain and so on,” said Sandra Steingraber, a distinguished scholar in residence at Ithaca College and founder of Concerned Health Professionals of NY.
“In general, we need better data on all this, and the problem is that fracking got rolled out across the landscape without any advanced health studies being done,” she told IPS...“The job of government (is) to protect people from harm… whether that’s protecting us from some invading foreign army, or against chemicals others are putting into environments that get into our bodies,” she said. read article
by Lisa Garber
27 February 2013
We know fracking isn’t exactly the safest of practices. We’ve heard of its propensity to pollute our air and drinking water and thereby raise human health concerns. The media, however, isn’t talking about the massive sinkholes pockmarking the nation, the radiation leaks, and other lesser known but no less earth-shattering effects of fracking.
Here are 5 other consequences of fracking you may not have heard of until now.
1. Methane-Spewing Geysers...
2. Your Land is my Land...
3. Milk Production Dips...
4. Contaminated Wine...
5. Contaminated Food, Stillborn Calves and Poisoned Animals...
Many doctors are protesting fracking, and direct contamination via the air and water mustn’t be the only considered contributors to fracking-related cancers. We are what we eat, after all, and fracking as of yet seems to be little more than just another inventive way to slowly poison the earth and ourselves. The greater problem lying in energy consumption, however, will make resolution difficult.
Where do you stand? read full discussion
Approve the Keystone XL pipeline in the next month, U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., and 19 other senators are saying in a letter to the new secretary of state, their former Senate colleague John Kerry.
The pipeline would carry oil from the tarsands of Alberta, Canada, to ports on the Gulf of Mexico in Texas. Environmentalists oppose the pipeline because of the heat-trapping emissions from producing and using the oil, and because of threats of spills along the line. read article
By Mark Binker
February 13, 2013
The Senate Finance Committee gave its approval Wednesday to a bill that would allow the state to start issuing permits for natural gas drilling in March 2015. read article
Nation of Change 20 January 2013
Two conservative organizations looking to repeal state renewable energy standard policies are the Heartland Institute and the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC. These two organizations worked together to write model legislation--the Electricity Freedom Act—to roll back state standards. read article
Heather Stewart and
26 January 2013
Lord Stern, author of the government-commissioned review on climate change that became the reference work for politicians and green campaigners, now says he underestimated the risks, and should have been more "blunt" about the threat posed to the economy by rising temperatures. read article
Lisa Sorg @lisasorg
February 13, 2013
Think of science as a seawall. The anti-science, anti-environmental movement washing down the halls of the Legislature is a powerful wave pounding the seawall, threatening to drown the people of North Carolina living behind it. read article
Democratic Women of Durham County (DWDC), PO Box 377, Durham, NC 27702 firstname.lastname@example.org webmaster