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Environment

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Senator Brent Jackson walks back part of controversial Farm Act that would have shielded employers from retaliation claims

An overlooked section of the 2021 Farm Act, which is currently under consideration at the General Assembly, would have undercut North Carolina workers’ ability to sue their employers for retaliation, a potential benefit for Sen. Brent Jackson, a primary bill sponsor and previous subject of these complaints.

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Hear no evil, see no evil? Senate committee limits public comments on controversial farm bill that would limit public comments

A Senate committee on Wednesday shut down public discussion of a contentious portion of the Farm Act, which coincidentally, sharply curbs public input on swine farms that install biogas systems and anaerobic digesters. The hog and energy industries support biogas, arguing the systems help alleviate climate change by capturing methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, that would otherwise be released into the air.

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Senate committee holds hostile confirmation hearing for Cooper DEQ nominee

And it's not over; hearing to be continued. Not until Minute 100 of a 120-minute confirmation hearing for Secretary of the Environment nominee Dionne Delli-Gatti did any lawmaker speak the words “environmental justice.” Even then, the context for the comment was not one of concern for communities of color and low-income neighborhoods who are disproportionately burdened by polluting industries.

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PW special report: The great methane debate and what it could mean for North Carolina

Environmental advocates want stronger regulation of the potent greenhouse gas, but Ag and energy interests are touting biogas

More than 2,200 industrialized hog farms and another 200-plus dairy operations in North Carolina are constantly belching untold amounts of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas and driver of climate change, into the air.

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Tired of fighting opponents of a proposed mine and asphalt plants, Carolina Sunrock decides to sue

Fifty-eight defendants named in legal complaint filed in Caswell County Opponents of two asphalt plants and a 426-acre mine proposed for Caswell County have been so successful in stymieing the projects that the company behind the proposals is now taking the residents to court.

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NC figures to play a major role as Biden banks on offshore wind to help curb climate change

WASHINGTON — Two wind turbines, each as tall as the Washington Monument, stand sentinel 27 miles off the coast of Virginia, the nation’s first offshore wind installation in federal waters. The pilot project began producing power last October but is just the beginning for an industry poised for massive growth over the next decade.

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Duke researcher identifies another devastating impact of rising oceans

Sea level rise is killing trees along the Atlantic coast, creating 'ghost forests' that are visible from space Trekking out to my research sites near North Carolina’s Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, I slog through knee-deep water on a section of trail that is completely submerged. Permanent flooding has become commonplace on this low-lying peninsula, nestled behind North Carolina’s Outer Banks.

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Converting hog waste into energy: Not as neat and simple as it might sound

Public comment period ends Sunday on Optima TH's air pollution permit for facility at Smithfield slaughterhouse   Optima TH has applied for a state air quality permit to operate a major biogas facility at Smithfield Fresh Meats in the Bladen County town of Tar Heel. If approved, Optima TH could emit 24,500 to 40,800 tons of greenhouse gases each year.

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Mystery deepens over origin of dangerous chemicals found at massive gasoline spill

Colonial Pipeline's own tests indicate high levels of PFAS that could be linked to clean-up efforts, but state regulators say they need more data Mysterious discrepancies in test results between Colonial Pipeline and the NC Department of Environmental Quality have raised questions about the origin of toxic perfluorinated compounds — PFAS — found in material used at a major gasoline spill in Huntersville.

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Natural gas gets a pass in new bill to further curb local government authority

A bill before the legislature would give preferential treatment to the natural gas industry, which has embarked on a nationwide push to force local governments to keep using the fossil fuel. House Bill 220 would prohibit cities and counties in North Carolina from adopting ordinances to limit the expansion of (or connections to) natural gas service. The measure's primary sponsors are Reps. Dean Arp, John Szoka, Charles Miller and Jason Saine, all Republicans.

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Federal lawsuits reveal corporate intrigue behind controversial Lumberton wood pellet plant

Active Energy left Utah to build a wood pellet plant in Lumberton. Court documents describe a Jenga tower of "alter egos" allegedly designed to shield the firm from responsibility. Philip Scalzo and Daniel McCarthy were living large, pulling down $12,000 to $15,000 a month, plus expenses and benefits as top-tier workers for Active Energy Group.

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Monday numbers: Offshore wind(fall) could create the clean jobs people are clamoring for

Tune in to nearly any public environmental meeting and you'll hear residents of environmental justice communities repeatedly clamor for clean jobs: not pipelines or wood pellet plants, but careers in industries that will break the cycle of generational poverty, while leaving the planet a more hospitable place for future generations.

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Hamlet residents: “We don’t want to be crash test dummies” for facility that would process creosote-treated railroad ties

Comment period ends March 3 for International Tie Disposal site, proposed for an environmental justice community Barbara Brealy has attended Marks Creek Presbyterian Church in Hamlet all of her 80 years. Since last May, Brealy and her fellow 92 congregants — a third of them older than 65 — have attended Sunday services outside, forced out of their pews by the pandemic. The notion that they and future generations of churchgoers could be subjected to more than 100 tons of pollution from a proposed nearby facility did not sit well with her.

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Monday numbers: A closer look at where hazardous waste sites in NC are located

There are more than 2,000 known hazardous waste sites in North Carolina, and more than 10% of them lie within a flood plain. These flood-prone waste sites presents particular threats to nearby residents and ecosystems because the rush of water can displace the contamination, sending it downstream, into flooded homes and neighborhoods, and even private drinking water wells.

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Biden pick for Interior Secretary likely to face rocky confirmation hearing

Some GOP senators expected to try and stop nation's first Native American cabinet nominee U.S. Senate Republicans may use this week’s confirmation hearing for Secretary of Interior nominee Rep. Debra Haaland to air their grievances about the Biden administration’s energy policies, running the risk of alienating Native Americans in Western states.

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In rural Pittsboro, residents fight DOT, Chatham Park Investors over proposed road that would upend their neighborhood

The road would require clear-cutting, take private land, divide the neighborhood, and cross Haven Creek, which feeds the Haw River.

Mark Pavao was working in his home that is tucked inside a woods and perched above a creek when he heard chainsaws.

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