Environment

Environment

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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EPA to NC DEQ: “Grave concerns” about swine industry’s intimidation of minority residents

Hog Lagoon in North Carolina (Photo:DELMO/Creative Commons) Last October, about 20 people from North Carolina's hog country — working-class, African-American, ordinary people — drove 300 miles to Washington, D.C., to tell their story. At two meetings, one with the EPA and another with several members of Congress and staff, these ordinary people described their very unordinary lives near industrialized hog farms.

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With a new DEQ secretary, environmentalists could have an advocate, not an enemy in state government

It’s been a long, acrimonious and even hostile four years for environmental groups, as well as the press, trying to pry information from the NC Department of Environmental Quality.

But Gov. Roy Cooper has nominated a new secretary, Michael Regan, a former EPA official and regional leader for the Environmental Defense Fund. And environmental advocates hope a new era of openness — a glasnost — will end what the Sierra Club’s Molly Diggins calls the agency’s “intrigue and deception that was like House of Cards.

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Environmental Management Commission defies EPA over state’s polluted waters

The best way to experience the swamps and rivers of Brunswick County is by kayak. Enter the wide Cape Fear River via Lilliput Creek – you might see the Fort Fisher Ferry pass in the distance -- and head north to Snow Cut. From there, if you keep paddling, you will eventually arrive at Wrightsville Beach and the Atlantic Ocean.

Unfortunately, this 12-square mile segment of the Cape Fear is also contaminated with arsenic and nickel, both heavy metals. The levels are high enough that the EPA has overruled state officials and placed this part of the river on a federal inventory of impaired waters, also known as a “303(d) list."

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Jones Street primer: What to expect from the 2017 legislative session (Part Two)

The 2017 session of the legislature kicked off this morning with House and Senate members gathering to establish rules and then picking-up where they left off in December. The repeal of House Bill 2, voting rights, the question of raising the age at which individuals can be prosecuted as adults in the criminal justice system, the state's coal ash problem and a new budget are among the issues lawmakers will tackle in the coming months. This afternoon reporter Lisa Sorg has a rundown of the environmental issues facing the General Assembly. Click here for Part One of our legislative preview by NC Policy Watch reporters Joe Killian and Melissa Boughton.

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