Environment

Environment

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The war on the environment in 2018: Five stories that mattered

2018 will go down as the Year of So Much Winning. When the smoke clears from the manufactured border crisis, foreign policy SNAFUs, financial meltdowns, presidential Twitter tantrums, and other mind-boggling behavior from the executive branch, we can also see an EPA in complete disarray...

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Meeting Gov. Cooper’s climate change mandate will take more than just turning out the lights. It will require a new way of thinking.

About five years ago, before the public widely knew that the world's greenhouse gas emissions were tipping the climate over the point of no return, Alex Johnson, Durham's urban forester, was weighing what trees to plant to replace the mass die-off of the city's willow oaks.

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What’s in the water?

A civil rights settlement forced DEQ to sample Duplin County waterways for pollution. The hard part is pinpointing the source.

Stocking Head Creek was up, licking the bottom of the bridge on NC Highway 50. An inch and a quarter of rain had fallen in the past two days, and the high water, the color of umber, scaled tree trunks and inundated swamps. At the storm's peak, the creek must have reached the road, because the grass along the shoulder was combed over and had yet to stand back up.

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Trump administration proposal likely to have devastating impact on NC wetlands

They could be paved, mined, jammed with concrete, filled with pollutants like GenX or coal ash: More than half of North Carolina’s — and the nation’s — wetlands and streams could be destroyed and their downstream communities — both human and nonhuman — harmed because of a proposed rollback of a cornerstone of the Clean Water Act.

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The case against Murphy-Brown: Inside North Carolina’s latest blockbuster hog trial

Shortly after 10 o’clock yesterday morning, a federal jury in the hog nuisance case Gillis vs. Murphy-Brown delivered the news: Hung. After a fortnight of patiently listening to plaintiffs’ and defendants’ testimony, and two days of deliberation, the panel of eight women and two men declared they were deadlocked...

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Monday numbers: Debunking the EPA’s clean coal balderdash

Global carbon dioxide emissions are predicted to hit a record high this year, yet the Trump administration plans to eliminate a cap on the amount of the greenhouse gas new US coal-fired power plants can emit.

Last Thursday, Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler...

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Hog trial drama: Defense attorney invokes Clint Eastwood, implies plaintiffs are liars in closing argument

Midway through Robert Thaxton’s closing arguments in the recent hog nuisance trial, the attorney for Smithfield Foods displayed a photo of a movie poster for Pale Rider, a 1985 Western starring Clint Eastwood. In the film, a mysterious justice-seeking preacher played by Eastwood tries...

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Trump administration OKs seismic testing; environmentalists say the battle for the Atlantic is on

Louder than a thunderclap outside your window. Louder than a jet engine 75 feet away. Louder than the Krakatoa eruption 172 miles from the volcano. Conducted in the depths of the ocean, seismic testing blasts sound reaching 250 decibels...

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NC makes some headway on GenX, but it’s just the tip of a very toxic and problematic iceberg

Last week was a momentous one for PFAS, although considering how widespread and durable they are in the environment, every week is big for industries’ estimated 4,700 perfluorinated compounds. First, DEQ explained in more detail its proposed consent order, developed in conjunction with Cape Fear River Watch, against Chemours for its profligate discharge of PFAS, such as GenX, into the Cape Fear River.

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Swine farmers, hog industry turns out in force to oppose revisions to draft permits

DEQ proposes stronger regulations, but waste lagoon and sprayfield system would remain status quo

Jed Arena stands in his backyard, placing most of his weight on one bent leg. A former hog farm worker for Tyson, Smithfield and smaller operations, he’s been fighting off a bacterial infection in his spine. About 10 years ago, well before his recent diagnosis of osteomyelitis, he contracted MRSA...

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EPA could toughen GenX standards: Here’s why and how you can comment

More people living near the Chemours chemical plant in southeastern North Carolina could qualify for alternate water supplies if the EPA's initial findings on the toxicity of GenX, released last week, are finalized. The basis for the potential switch is the EPA's draft report proposing a chronic reference dose for GenX that translates to a health goal of 110 parts per trillion in drinking water.

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High-powered trial lawyers joust as latest hog trial commences

Robert Thackston, who is tall, bald, with a trunk as straight as a redwood’s, removed his midnight-blue suit jacket to reveal a white twill shirt so crisp it threatened to shatter. On the seventh floor, in Room No. 2 of the federal courthouse in Raleigh, the Texas lawyer sat at the head of a scurry of attorneys hired by Smithfield, the world’s largest pork producer. He rocked in his chair and flipped through his thicket of notes, as if perusing a wine list.

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Republican legislators pledge to probe Cooper Atlantic Coast Pipeline deal

The Joint Subcommittee on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline voted Wednesday to launch an investigation into Gov. Roy Cooper's office, albeit one without an investigator -- and without any notion of how much the inquiry would cost. The investigation, spearheaded by Republican Senators...

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Photo of Enviva's wood pellet plant under construction in Hamlet
Environment Top Story

Half-truths and sometimes no truth at all: Public debates pollution limits at Enviva’s wood pellet plant in Hamlet

About a quarter-mile off NC 177 in Richmond County, just north of Hamlet, skeletons of buildings gouge the horizon, as bulldozers coerce the dirt into mounds and flats. This is the site of Enviva’s new wood pellet production plant, ...
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Monday numbers (plus): NC celebrates greenhouse gas report, but fracking, wood pellets and natural gas pipelines might spoil the party

The summer of 2018 ranks among the wettest on record in eastern North Carolina, a consequence of climate change and its driver — greenhouse gas emissions. The NC Department of Environmental Quality’s draft Greenhouse Gas Inventory shows the state’s contributions to a warming and unpredictable global climate...

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NC proposes first-ever regulation of methyl bromide air pollution

Methyl bromide is invisible. A toxic air pollutant, it can't be tasted or smelled. But when exposed to the gas, the body knows it has been violated. Depending on the frequency and degree of the exposure to the compound, the lungs may fill with fluid or grow lesions. The kidneys, liver and esophagus can suffer. A developing fetus might fail to normally grow.

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