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Environment

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Utilities Commission makes it tougher for companies to charge political expenditures to ratepayers

The NC Utilities Commission closed several, but not all, loopholes in rules prohibiting public utilities, notably Duke Energy, from passing along lobbying and advertising expenses to ratepayers, according to a ruling issued last week. This "discretionary spending" includes advertising that appears on social media, as well as promotional materials that serve only to burnish a utility’s image, compete with other utilities for customers, and are unrelated to providing service to the public.

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Monday numbers: A close look at what’s next now that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline has been canceled

Feds submit proposal for restoring hundreds of miles of cleared land A little more than a year after Duke Energy and Dominion pulled the plug on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, federal regulators have published a proposed restoration plan for the 600-mile route.

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Monday numbers: A closer look at urban heat mapping in the era of climate change

The white tail of a doe streaked by like the trail of a falling star. A stand of cattails rose from stagnant marsh, their heads as brown as corndogs. Dragonflies — Common Whitetail Skimmers and Banded Pennants — alit on a sweep of swamp rose-mallows. As a volunteer for an urban heat mapping project, I had drawn the long straw and been assigned to the Beaver Marsh Nature Preserve in north Durham.

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State officials investigating source of Cleveland County PFAS contamination

Tests show high PFAS levels at site that received contaminated soil from massive Colonial Pipeline spill, as well as nearby stream Julia Hughes was walking her dog near Shelby, in rural Cleveland County, last winter when she spotted a mysterious foam in a culvert by the side of the road.

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Capitol Hill update: Senate Republicans slow infrastructure plan, House passes PFAS bill

U.S. Senate Republicans block advance of bipartisan infrastructure plan, but talks continue WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats’ attempt to start debate on a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure plan was blocked by Republicans on a party-line vote Wednesday, as lawmakers hustle to wrap up negotiations over drafting that legislation.

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As Congress tries to regulate ‘forever chemicals,’ local water systems push back

WASHINGTON—Local water utilities worried about getting hit with lawsuits and high cleanup costs are stepping up their lobbying of Congress as lawmakers move to regulate toxic chemicals found in drinking water. The bill, the PFAS Action Act of 2021, has garnered bipartisan support and two Michigan lawmakers, Reps. Debbie Dingell, a Democrat, and Fred Upton, a Republican, are expected to bring the measure to the House floor for passage later this week.

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Tropical Storm Elsa is headed for NC: Here’s how to learn if you live in a flood zone, near environmental hazards

The first tropical system of the summer, named Elsa, is expected to cause localized flooding in North Carolina tomorrow, as it crosses into Scotland and Richmond counties in the morning and then travels through the central part of the state. Here is a brief tutorial for learning whether you're in a flood zone and what other environmental hazards could lurk below the water.

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House passes Farm Act, which will fast-track controversial biogas projects

Rep. Jimmy Dixon calls agriculture "a whipping boy," says opposition is unfair Mt. Zion AME Church sits a ways off the road, flanked by farm fields near the Sampson County town of Magnolia. The small brick church, whose congregation is predominantly Black, is 100 years old. But its drinking water well is new.

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U.S. House panel approves legislation to clean up toxic ‘forever chemicals’

WASHINGTON—The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee has approved major bipartisan legislation that aims to reduce Americans’ exposure to toxic chemicals in air, water and consumer products. The bill, the PFAS Action Act of 2021, led by Michigan Reps. Debbie Dingell, a Democrat and Fred Upton, a Republican, was approved 33-20 late Wednesday.

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Once on the fast track, super-secret energy bill derailed over costs, nukes, and unproven claims

Rep. John Szoka says House Bill 951 "is not perfect." That, opponents say, is an understatement. For the past five months, the workings of a top secret energy group was so hush-hush that if someone was caught leaking information they would be expelled as an outcast and a pariah.

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‘Sooner’ or ‘later’? Fate of Wake Stone quarry near Umstead State Park hinges on one word

Former N.C. Attorney General says there was no typo, but the state intended for mining to wind down in 2032, not the 22nd century One word — “sooner” — in a 40-year-old mining permit could alter the future of a quarry and its proposed expansion adjacent to Umstead State Park in Raleigh.

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Monday numbers: Mapping urban heat islands to blunt the health risks of climate change

How hot is it on your block? If you live in am historically Black neighborhood, it's probably hotter than in whiter, more affluent areas. As climate change leads to more extreme temperatures, communities of color are more vulnerable to the health risks of the heat.

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Uncharted territory: Senate committee rejects nomination of NC DEQ Secretary Delli-Gatti

In a snub to Gov. Roy Cooper and an apparent affirmation of the political power of energy utilities, the Senate Agriculture, Energy and Environment Committee rejected the confirmation of Secretary of the Environment Dionne Delli-Gatti today during a tumultuous and heated hearing.

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PW exclusive: PFAS levels spiking in monitoring wells in New Hanover County

Concentration of toxic compounds up 260% in one well, compared with last year Levels of perfluorinated compounds, also known as PFAS, have surged in several monitoring wells in New Hanover County recent data show, prompting state regulators to investigate potential sources.

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Active Energy’s controversial wood pellet plant in Lumberton on hold — indefinitely

Maine regulators also have questions, are scrutinizing company’s trial wood pellet project in that state Active Energy Renewable Power’s plans to manufacture wood pellets at its plant in Lumberton have been delayed indefinitely, prompting the company to launch a trial project in Maine.

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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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