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Monday numbers: Duke Energy’s carbon reduction plan still allows for methane emissions, major driver of climate change

Duke Energy's proposed carbon reduction plan calls for steep cuts in carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas, but does not decrease other types of emissions that drive climate change, according to filings with the state Utilities Commission. House Bill 951, now law, directed the state Utilities Commission to "take all reasonable steps" to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from Duke Energy: 70% from 2005 levels by the year 2030 and to achieve carbon neutrality by the year 2050.

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3 big reasons why the Biden climate agenda is floundering

President Joe Biden’s climate agenda took a hit this month when the Interior Department said it would open 144,000 acres of federal land up for oil and gas development to comply with a court order to restart fossil fuel development. The announcement marked yet another setback for a presidential climate plan that was once seen as historically ambitious.

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Monday numbers: Chapel Hill’s plan to build offices and housing atop a coal ash disposal site

In the 1960s and 1970s, when coal was still king, the UNC power plant in Chapel Hill generated millions of tons of ash, the byproduct of burning the fuel for energy. Some of that ash had to go somewhere, and that somewhere was 828 Martin Luther King Blvd. on the north side of town. In 1980, the town unknowingly built its police headquarters on that property. But not until 2013 did town officials realize that ash was present.

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“Outer Banks Strange”: Are unexploded bombs a threat to environmental safety?

SOUTHERN SHORES, NC – Standing before the town council in early March, Southern Shores Town Manager Cliff Ogburn began yet another presentation on the bombs potentially buried around town. It was strange, but it was "Outer Banks Strange." Strange like side-of-the-highway historical markers recounting German submarines sinking U.S. ships off the coast.

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Renewables company could transform how millions of tons of hog waste are managed in NC

Montauk Ag Renewable has test site in Duplin County and plans to operate plant in Sampson County, but will it work? Outside a large steel barn in Magnolia, Martin Redeker scooped loads of dried hog waste, composted with carbon, onto a snow shovel for anyone to take a deep whiff.  It smelled. 

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PW exclusive: DEQ cites Greensboro company for “imminent and substantial endangerment” over handling of hazardous pharmaceutical waste

A financially troubled company stored more than 500 containers of flammable liquids, gases and hazardous pharmaceuticals without a permit, posing an “imminent and substantial endangerment,” according to state regulators. Pharmaceutical Dimensions, which leased a warehouse at 7353-A W. Friendly Ave. in Greensboro, was cited by the NC Department of Environmental Quality in early March after repeatedly failing to comply with hazardous waste rules for nearly a year.

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Tiny particles, huge environmental problem: Micro-plastics found not only in the sea but in the Neuse River Basin

If the plastic food container that contained your lunch today winds up in the Neuse River, a local creek, or the Atlantic Ocean, 60 years from now people could find it, reasonably intact. The rest of the container will have degraded into micro-plastics — teeny particles that are visible only under a microscope. Fish or shrimp might have ingested those particles, filling their guts in place of food. People might have unknowingly drunk those plastic particles in water flowing from their taps.

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Yadkin County residents dig in for a fight against a proposed mine near homes, elementary school

After living all over North Carolina, Terry and Joyce Long finally came home.  In 2020, they bought a tract of land in Hamptonville adjacent to property that had been in Joyce’s family for five generations. Joyce grew up in this Yadkin County town of just 6,100 people, and now she and Terry could raise their four children here, a quiet, rural idyll of forests and farms and night skies that light up with stars.

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‘I had a panic attack,’ says Forsyth County official about air pollution from Weaver Fertilizer fire

Fertilizer chemicals also stored near other low-income neighborhoods, communities of color Thirty-six hours after a catastrophic fire broke out at the Weaver Fertilizer plant, the air in this Winston-Salem neighborhood was practically unbreathable. Levels of fine particulate matter, known as PM 2.5, peaked at more than 30 times the EPA’s eight-hour average.

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Despite multiple fines, violations, NC Renewable Power is still a chronic and major air polluter

Robeson County facility seeks new air permit even as state records detail a long trail of failures as fines Tens of thousands of dollars in fines. Dozens of violations. Millions of tons of air pollutants. North Carolina Renewable Power in Robeson County was supposed to be part of the solution for Duke Energy to meet its renewable energy goals.

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A company clear-cut vast tracts of mountain forest, jeopardizing the survival of a beloved, unique trout

Companies owned by Alleghany County-based Bottomley Properties have a long violation history; DEQ has yet to fine them for latest round of damage The brookies were in danger of dying. Last June, after the spring thaw and a hard summer rain, a torrent of mud, dirt and rock, in some spots two feet deep, had gushed into Ramey Creek and its tributaries, potentially suffocating the fish and/or destroying their home.

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Monday numbers: Our concrete jungles harm vulnerable people and contribute to climate change

A city block can make all the difference. On a sunny day last summer, the temperature in Nash Square, an urban oasis in Raleigh shaded by magnolia and oak trees, was two degrees cooler than the concrete jungle a block away. The Urban Heat Island Mapping Project released its first round of results earlier this month, which illustrated the stark differences in how land use affects not only the temperature, but people.

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Legal notice alleges Active Energy discharging PFAS into Lumber River; Commerce Dept concerned over wood pellet company viability

Active Energy Renewable Power, a wood pellet plant beset by regulatory, legal, and operational troubles, is allegedly discharging high levels of toxic PFAS into the Lumber River, a drinking water supply for 25,000 people in Robeson County. The company is also allegedly discharging the compounds into Jacob’s Branch, a tributary of the Lumber River.

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Winston-Salem fertilizer fire reveals regulatory loopholes, spurs hard questions about building and workplace safety

Owners of the Weaver Fertilizer plant in Winston-Salem failed to submit a required chemical inventory to the NC Department of Public Safety in 2020, a key piece of information for state and local emergency officials.  Nearly 600 tons of ammonium nitrate caught fire at the Weaver plant on Jan. 31 and burned for four days. The risk of explosion was so great that Winston-Salem officials asked people to evacuate within a mile radius, temporarily displacing 6,000 residents.

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Environmental hazards loom large as emergency crews work to contain massive Winston-Salem fire

After two days, the enormous fire at the Weaver Fertilizer Plant in Winston-Salem is still burning, forcing the evacuation of more than 6,000 people within a mile radius of the 80-year-old facility. Because of the risk of explosion, firefighters can't extinguish the blaze; nor can they yet determine the cause of the fire.

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Monday numbers: A closer look at the state’s impaired, polluted waters

If you linked all the miles of impaired streams and rivers in North Carolina end to end, they would extend from the mountains to the sea four times. Add the total acreage of the state's impaired lakes, reservoirs and estuaries, and the breadth would equal nearly 2,000 golf courses.

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