Environment

Environment

Environment Top Story

Neutering nuisance laws in North Carolina

This story is part of "Peak Pig," an examination of the hog industry co-published with Environmental Health News. Tomorrow Elizabeth Ouzts reports on the possibilities of swine waste-to-energy projects.

Big hog producing states are chipping away at the last legal resorts for residents who feel they've been wronged ...
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Environment Top Story

A DEQ mystery: Where in the world is Donald van der Vaart?

Donald van der Vaart and John Evans, formerly the top two officials at the NC Department of Environmental Quality under Gov. Pat McCrory, have been absent from their offices, and their job status is uncertain, sources have told Policy Watch.

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Environment Top Story

An epic hearing over a proposed granite mine leads to a pivotal vote by Guilford County Commissioners

Kevin Cornell reached into a box and hoisted a rock the size of a toddler's head and placed it on the podium. "There was an explosion and a shockwave and rocks rained down," explained Cornell, who lives across the road from a Martin Marietta quarry.

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Environment Top Story

Proposed state animal waste rules draw scrutiny, concern

In the world of state environmental law, there is high-profile legislation whose hubbub, sometimes worthy of Shakespeare, is broadcast at the General Assembly. And there are lesser-known rules – think of them as off-off-Broadway plays – that are debated at sparsely attended public hearings beyond the view of a camera. Yet these rules often have the power to damage or improve the quality of life for thousands, if not millions, of North Carolinians.

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Environment Top Story

Awash in pollution: Restoring North Carolina’s sick rivers to health will require a major policy about-face

The Progressive Pulse blog has additional coverage of yesterday’s meeting of the House Select Committee on River Quality. Like most people who grow up on the water, Kemp Burdette is different from his landlocked friends. Undeterred by dampness, ...
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Environment Top Story

“Unsubstantiated by competent evidence”: Judge rules against Civitas’s Francis De Luca in Smithfield Foods case

Francis De Luca tried to thread a legal needle but instead poked himself in the eye.

In a lawsuit filed last October, De Luca, the director of conservative group Civitas, had claimed that millions of dollars generated by a 2000 settlement agreement between the state attorney general's office and Smithfield Foods were being unconstitutionally disbursed.

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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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