Environment

Environment

Environment Top Story

House Bill 374 and its restrictions on the citizens’ right to contest environmental permits, advances in Senate

Even before he dropped the gavel on the Senate Finance Committee meeting, Sen. Jerry Tillman, a notoriously cantankerous Republican from Randolph County, seemed to be in a particularly bad mood.

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Environment Top Story

Private owners of Woodlake Dam are broke, so DEQ will spend nearly $1 million to fix it

Over one weekend last October, more than a half-foot of rain fell on the small town of Vass in Moore County. By Monday evening, when Hurricane Matthew had moved north and out to sea, a middle section of the spillway at Woodlake Dam had collapsed. Thousands of residents downstream were in danger.

The dam and lake are privately owned by Woodlake LLC, a troubled company with a dicey financial and environmental history: spinoff real estate ventures, multiple bankruptcies, broken promises to residents of its upscale development, violations of court orders and an opaque web of German investors and banks.

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Environment Top Story

Thinking about rooftop solar? Here’s the nitty-gritty on the renewables bill

House Bill 589 is not a perfect bill. It may even be distasteful, especially for progressives impatient with the pace of renewable energy development. But considering the anti-renewable tenor that has characterized the legislature for the last six years, this bill is likely as good as it gets -- for now.

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Environment Top Story

Former House Speaker tried to strong-arm DEQ over chemicals in Jordan Lake

Harold Brubaker, the former Republican House Speaker turned powerful lobbyist, tried to ram through a scientifically dubious cleanup project for Jordan Lake and allegedly used hurricane relief funding as leverage, according to emails obtained by NCPW under the Open Records law.

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Environment

The $1 million mystery: The Senate budget gives a low-risk hazardous waste site a major windfall — at the expense of hundreds of critical projects

Off a stub of Pine Grove Road behind the West End fire station in Havelock, an old sand mine turned wayward recycling facility has become an environmental and civic albatross. The 34-acre former Phoenix Recycling site contains an assortment of wood, metal, plastic and cardboard — plus construction and demolition detritus that has been illegally dumped there since the company closed and declared bankruptcy in 2000.

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Environment Top Story

Gov. Cooper vetoes hog nuisance bill; new court documents show fecal bacteria from hogs on homes

Gov. Roy Cooper has vetoed House Bill 467, which would sharply curb the rights of private property owners to sue hog farmers in so-called nuisance lawsuits.The bill had passed the House 68-47, and the Senate 74-42.

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Environment

Behind the scenes of the leachate bill: an inventor, a lawmaker and $5,000 — but not much science

The entrance to Upper Piedmont Environmental Landfill in Person County looks inviting, as if it were leading to a middle-class subdivision. An artful stone sign bearing the name welcomes drivers down a long road to a 480-acre landfill in Rougemont. Here, trucks haul in garbage from 16 North Carolina counties and eight others from Virginia, as much as 3.6 million tons of commercial, industrial and institutional waste every year.

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Environment Top Story

State lawmakers pummel environmental protection efforts yet again

With just a few hours left until the crossover deadline, the state of North Carolina’s environment is worse off, legislatively speaking, than two days ago. Plastic bags could further litter our beaches, strangling turtles. Waterways could become more polluted by hog waste, sediment, fertilizer – whatever materials can run directly into rivers and streams. Clean energy, which helps curb climate change and creates jobs, is being nipped in the bud.

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Environment Top Story

DEQ Secretary Regan sails through Senate confirmation hearing

Today’s Senate committee hearing for NC DEQ Secretary Michael Regan felt like a softball game, and not even fast-pitch. Instead, lawmakers tossed questions at the nominee — some that Regan had seen in advance — which were ready for him to hit.

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Environment Top Story

Duke researchers warn of methane’s dangers, while the university presses for a new natural gas plant

The scientists who work on climate issues at the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University belong to an esteemed crowd. Their studies on the environmental, economic and public health perils of fracked natural gas have been featured in major peer-reviewed journals. Their findings on the role of methane leaks from natural gas in harming human health and driving climate change have earned the school scientific renown.

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Environment Top Story

The Senate’s Regulatory Reform measure could harm waterway, but help the bill sponsor

Just three paragraphs in the Senate’s Regulatory Reform bill could not only weaken the health of North Carolina’s waterways, but also increase the likelihood of devastating floods and mudslides.

As written, this portion of Senate Bill 131 could benefit not only the entire development industry, but one of the bill’s primary sponsors...

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Environment

Duke Energy, NC WARN in power struggle over the right to sell solar energy

Faith Community Church lies over the railroad tracks south of downtown Greensboro, an area with few trees to shade it from the sun. That makes for a hot walk in the summertime, but the neighborhood, and specifically, the 11,839-square-foot church and community center, is an ideal place for NC WARN to install a solar energy system on a roof.

“We deeply believe that solar energy is a gift from God from which all can and should benefit,” Faith Community’s Rev. Nelson Johnson and other members of Concerned African-American clergy, wrote to the state legislature in 2015.

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Environment

Gov. Cooper’s DEQ budget adds more than 20 people, but Trump’s cuts to EPA could hurt programs

For the last six years, the NC Department of Environmental Quality has served as a budgetary piñata. Republican lawmakers, and for most of that time, Gov. McCrory, often took a whack at the department, spilling personnel and programs all over the House and Senate floor.

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Environment Featured Articles

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline will forever change forests, wetlands and rivers in North Carolina

It's nearly spring and the Neuse River Waterdogs are on the prowl, searching for mates. About 6 to 9 inches long, slimy and the color of mud, the salamanders are homely, yet lovable. They have dark spots, like a Dalmatian, and their neck sports two frilly gills the shade of magenta, which, when waterdogs want attention, rise like an Elizabethan collar.

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Environment Featured Articles

Opponents of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline: “Nobody is saying what’s happening to the little people”

This is the first of a two-part story about the potential impacts of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline on people and the environment. The second story, dealing with the environmental ramifications, will run Monday. Belinda Joyner rode shotgun and stared out ...
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Environment Featured Articles

In opposition to Amazon Wind farm, NC lawmakers cite #alternativefacts

Overlooking the all caps, italics, bolded passages and occasional exclamation marks, on its face the two-page letter sent by eight North Carolina lawmakers looked overblown but possibly informed.

Last month, the lawmakers — all Republicans — wrote to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, asking him to permanently close the Desert Wind farm just west of Elizabeth City. The letter quoted impressive-sounding government-funded studies about the threat of wind turbines on military radar. It cited a meticulous set of facts and figures. It listed footnotes in superscript, just like the MLA academic style book instructs.

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