Environment

Environment

Environment Top Story

NC Senate appoints industry front group member to Oil and Gas Commission slot reserved for conservation voice

Jim Womack has a reputation in North Carolina for being many things, but a conservationist isn’t one of them.

An outspoken fracking proponent, of course. A blogger who, under the pseudonym James Madison, likened President Obama to a Marxist Muslim imam, sure. A Tea Party supporter and Lee County Commissioner who voted to dismantle the environmental board — yes, that happened.

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Environment Top Story

Duke Energy’s flood maps reveal only part of the risk of a coal ash spill

Saturday nights at the 311 Motor Speedway in rural Pine Hall smell of fast food and fuel. Wooden bleachers overlook the track, essentially a clay bowl, where under the bright lights, mini stock cars careen through the turns, monster trucks tear up mud bogs, and "Ucars" -- souped up Hondas and Chevys and Fords -- speed down the straightaways.

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Environment Top Story

Demoted former DEQ chief contradicts department policy in national environmental journal

When Donald van der Vaart and John Evans ran the NC Department of Environmental Quality, they were not shy about expressing their anti-regulatory, pro-business philosophy. But now the former secretary and his chief deputy, who stayed at the agency in lesser roles after Roy Cooper was elected governor, have published a controversial article in a professional journal promoting views that not only clash with those of the current DEQ leadership, but also appear to flout its authority.

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Environment Top Story

We tried to get Duke Energy’s secret flood maps. We were stonewalled.

The 12 minutes spent on the phone with Duke Energy customer service shed no light on how — or if — citizens can learn if they live in an area that could flood if one of the utility’s coal ash basins fails.

In fact, the customer service representative — to her credit, unfailing polite — didn’t know what an inundation map was.

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Environment Top Story

Oil and gas commission goes rogue, schedules illegal meeting to challenge fracking moratoriums

This story has been updated with comments from Jim Womack, who did not respond earlier to questions.

With energy companies anxious to start drilling, the two-year fracking moratoriums in Lee and Chatham County are expected to be challenged at a meeting of the state's Oil and Gas Commission this week. However, the legality of that meeting, scheduled for Wednesday in Sanford, is in question, as is the authority of the commission's purported chairman, Jim Womack.

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Environment Top Story

In supporting the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a struggling nonprofit confronts a conflict of interest

For the 18 months, Gary Brown has been traveling through northeastern North Carolina like an itinerant preacher, singing the praises of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

“Atlantic’s decision to place its operations center in Northampton County is impressive and certainly welcomed,” he told the Roanoke-Chowan Herald in March 2016. “The project is critically important in serving the energy needs of residents, business and industry in the state and region, present and future. We appreciate the opportunity to be a part of that, and the trust they have placed in us.”

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Environment Top Story

Web of local money, political connections behind legislature’s decision to bypass DEQ in GenX clean-up

The fire is elusive, but the smoke is thick.

An analysis of professional and political relationships among major players in the GenX crisis shows the connections that led to a controversial state appropriation in House Bill 56, and a contract between the Cape Fear utility and a public relations firm.

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Environment

The people and political connections behind the controversial GenX appropriation

Several professional and political relationships are entangled in the House Bill 56 appropriation of $185,000 to the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority. See full description below. Click here for a pdf version of the diagram. THE PLAYERS Companies ...
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Environment Top Story

Giant pork producer asks federal court to reinterpret new and controversial NC law, nullify existing nuisance lawsuits

For Murphy-Brown, a major victory in House Bill 467 was not enough.

The world's largest pork producer has petitioned a federal court to interpret a key part of the controversial law that could nullify 26 lawsuits brought by 541 plaintiffs against the company. While courts are often called upon to interpret laws, in this case, Murphy-Brown is asking a judge to essentially read lawmakers’ minds and divine their intent when they wrote and passed the law.

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Environment Top Story

Chemours discharging other chemicals besides GenX in Cape Fear River; EPA releases data to DEQ today

As the House was winding down its debate on controversial legislation regarding GenX funding, federal and state environmental officials publicly released disturbing new data about other chemicals from the Chemours plant entering the Cape Fear River and downstream drinking water supplies. The findings indicate the the company, a spinoff of DuPont, has not been forthcoming about the various chemical compounds it is discharging into the river.

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Environment Top Story

Lawmakers attempt to deflect blame, assail Cooper administration at special GenX hearing

On Wednesday afternoon, the legislature’s Environmental Review Commission looked to its legal staff, state environmental and health officials, and a UNC Wilmington scientist for answers to their questions about how GenX wound up contaminating the drinking water in three counties.

However, many of these same legislators failed to look at themselves.

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Environment Top Story

Company that benefited from secret budget provision refuses to disclose chemicals it proposes to introduce into Triangle’s Jordan Lake

The SePro Corporation is receiving as much as $1.3 million in taxpayer money to chemically kill the algae in Jordan Lake, but the company is keeping key details of its proposal — including a full ingredient list of the products — secret from the public.

The proposed chemical treatment of a drinking water source for 300,000 people is yet another questionable technique backed by some lawmakers and business interests, who have been reluctant to instead enforce rules limiting development in the Jordan Lake watershed.

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Environment Top Story

Even after revisions, Atlantic Coast Pipeline plan still threatens NC rivers, drinking water

The temperature in Rocky Mount was tipping 100 degrees and the hallway of Nash Community College was hot, as it held hundreds of people lined up to speak on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Nothing sounded better than a cold glass of water.

But these days, with contaminants known and unknown flowing from their taps, North Carolinians can no longer take clean water for granted.

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Environment Top Story

SePro CEO and North Carolina native co-founded front group for chemical industry, with ties to DuPont

This is the first of a two-part story. Tomorrow, NCPW will report on the findings of UNC marine scientists who are studying pollution in Jordan Lake, funded by the NC Collaboratory in the 2016-17 budget. The legislature could use those findings to inform policy and rules regarding development in the watershed.

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Environment Top Story

GenX, Chromium 6 and 1,4-dioxane: No federal, state regulations and less guidance about how to protect drinking water

When Gov. Roy Cooper visits Wilmington on Monday, it's unlikely that he will be greeted by the friendly faces he encountered during his campaign. Instead, the people of New Hanover, Pender and Brunswick counties want answers to questions about the safety of their drinking water...

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Environment Top Story

Unlikely bedfellows rally to oppose seismic air gun testing, offshore drilling near the North Carolina coast

The Atlantic Ocean has never been a silent place, what with the whales and their jabbering, the dolphins and their mating calls. The underwater sound waves of earthquakes, volcanoes and waves are background noise, akin to the hum of air conditioners in the summertime.

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