Environment

Environment

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Dishonorable discharge: Runoff from a former industrial site is contaminating an important NC lake

Alcoa's continued discharge of toxics into Badin Lake, a popular fishing and swimming destination, linked to paltry fines, lax state oversight  Alcoa, the eighth-largest aluminum company in the world, whose global reach spans 11 countries, claims on its website that it "operates with excellence" and "cares about people around the globe." The residents of West Badin, in Stanly County, and many of their neighbors across Badin Lake disagree.

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As utilities spend billions on transmission, support builds for independent monitoring

Advocates say the nation needs a coherent, cohesive and transparent electric system, but utility companies resist added oversight An aging electric grid, fossil fuel power plant retirements and a massive renewable electricity buildout are all contributing to a boom in transmission and distribution wire projects by electric utilities across the country.

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Monday numbers: A closer look at the problem of contaminated drinking water wells in NC

Under a special state fund 658 drinking water wells were sampled for contamination, many of them in Wake County Since 2007 state regulators have sampled more than 5,500 private wells for potential contamination under the Bernard Allen Memorial Emergency Drinking Water Fund, according to an annual report filed by the Department of Environmental Quality. The state legislature created the fund -- named after a former Wake County state legislator -- in 2006.

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After intense public scrutiny about hurricane disaster response, Ivan Duncan, a top official at ReBuild NC, is resigning

Ivan Duncan, whose tenure as chief program delivery officer with ReBuild NC has come under increased scrutiny, is resigning, sources told Policy Watch. ...
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Amid a major federal investment in electric cars, it’s time for states to step up, advocates say

For years, electric vehicles posed something of a chicken-and-egg problem. Mass adoption, seen as critical to cutting the largest single source of U.S. ...
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Coal plant operators shirking responsibilities on ash cleanup, report contends

Duke Energy facility in NC cited as among the worst contamination sites, but company pushes back In the wake of major coal ash spills from power plant containment ponds in Tennessee and into the Dan River along the North Carolina and Virginia border, the federal Environmental Protection Agency in 2015 laid out the first federal rules for managing the ash, one of the nation’s largest waste streams, and the toxins it contains.

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Report shows contaminated groundwater is migrating toward Teer Quarry, site of Durham’s future water supply

High levels of several toxic chemicals have been detected in groundwater near Teer Quarry, storage site for Durham’s future water supply, and are migrating toward the pit itself, state documents show. However, it is still uncertain if these compounds will reach the quarry, and if so, at what concentrations. The contaminant of greatest concern is 1,4-Dioxane, a likely carcinogen.

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Monday numbers: A closer look at the daunting challenges NC faces in transitioning to sustainable energy

While the NC Sustainable Energy Association was holding its annual conference last week, the World Meteorological Organization announced some troubling news: Levels of three main greenhouse gases -- carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide -- all reached new record highs in 2021. The United Nations also rang the alarm. The planet is on pace to increase global average temperatures by 2.1 to 2.9 degrees Celsius (3.7 to 4.8 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial levels, by 2100...

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States are vying for money to start ‘hydrogen hubs.’ What are they?

Across the country, states are inking agreements with neighbors or striking out on their own to pursue billions in federal funding to set up “hydrogen hubs,” clustered centers for production, storage and use of the gas that many see as a crucial piece of the puzzle for decarbonizing the U.S. economy. How broad a role it should play, however, is a matter of debate.

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Colonial Pipeline contamination spreading in Huntersville; MVP Southgate natural gas project on ice, and more

A plume of polluted groundwater is spreading in Mecklenburg County, where Colonial Pipeline is responsible for the largest gasoline spill in the U.S. since the early 1990s. On Aug. 14, 2020, two teenage boys found gasoline bubbling from the ground at the Oehler Nature Preserve, in Huntersville. The company now estimates 2 million gallons leaked from a section of pipeline that had broken roughly a month before.

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PFAS found in blood samples of more than 1,000 people in Cape Fear River Basin

For more than a year, Laura Petersen has waited for the message to arrive. “I’m so nervous to open that letter,” she said ...
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Small foundation wants to build museum on fragile public land at Jockey’s Ridge State Park — rent-free

With their wavy ridges, like a vast sandy potato chip, the 100-foot dunes at Jockey’s Ridge State Park in Dare County are a spectacular sight to behold. It is the tallest active natural sand dune system in the eastern US, built over 3,000 years by the forces of wind and water, shoals and storms. Now a fledgling foundation with few assets and scant income is proposing to build a $7 million, 12,000-square-foot museum on environmentally fragile park land.

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Behind the scenes of the ill-fated Compute North cryptomining project, Greenville officials pressed to seal the deal

Pitt County economic development officials and the Greenville Utilities Commission were prepared to offer Compute North $50,000 in incentives to site an enormous cryptocurrency mining center on land owned by a Greenville Utilities Commissioner. Details of the deal, known as “Project Coin,” are included in closed-session minutes of the Greenville Utilities Commission. Those minutes show the GUC’s optimism and the urgency in wooing Compute North to Pitt County.

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For offshore wind aspirations to become reality, transmission hurdles must be cleared

President Joe Biden’s administration laid out ambitious additional goals last month to boost offshore wind power generation, one of the American renewable energy industry’s emerging wide open frontiers. The federal announcements come as coastal states across the country are increasingly setting offshore wind energy targets, seeking to capture not just clean energy but the potentially big economic benefits of their ports serving as hubs for the vessels, blade manufacturing, cables and other infrastructure needed to get turbines more than 850 feet tall installed miles out at sea. 

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In presentation to legislative oversight committee ReBuild NC inflated number of homes it built under hurricane disaster recovery program

Laura Hogshead, director of the NC Office of Recovery and Resiliency, recently testified under oath before a legislative subcommittee that only 789 of ...
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Hearing over denial of Wake Stone’s mining permit reveals fissures within DEQ

In early February of this year, Brian Wrenn, director of the state’s Division of Energy, Minerals and Land Resources – DEMLR – visited Umstead State Park, one of the premier natural areas in the Triangle.  Wrenn and several other top DEMLR officials had assembled there at the behest of Reid Wilson, the secretary of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, which oversees the state park system. DEMLR was weighing a controversial mining permit application filed by Wake Stone to expand its existing rock quarry onto 225 acres abutting the Umstead State Park boundary. The decision, to approve or deny, was solely Wrenn’s.

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