Republican attack on the environment

Environmental Injustice: 15 advocates arrested outside Gov mansion

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One person's economic gain is another person's health problem:

The state is failing low-income communities with large African-American and Native American populations by allowing polluting industries to concentrate in their counties, a group of residents said Wednesday as they demanded that an environmental justice advisory board do more to advocate for them.

Opponents of Enviva, a company that produces wood pellets by the ton for export, the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline, coal ash disposal sites, and industrial agriculture said the DEQ is watching out for industries and not the people who live near those operations.

Environmental justice issues have plagued minority communities since the dawn of the industrial revolution, and very few improvements have been made to this day. Government has, for the most part, ignored the formula industry uses in site selection (cheap land, powerless people). And in many cases has actually taken an active role in the unfair process, via zoning and permitting practices. While I do support both Governor Cooper and Michael Regan, I also support this message:

After S559 is amended, Duke Energy pushes for rate increases

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There's more than one way to skin a ratepayer:

Duke Energy has asked state regulators to approve an average 12.3% rate increase for its division serving eastern North Carolina and the Asheville area. The filing Wednesday with the North Carolina Utilities Commission seeks an additional $464 million to pay for retiring coal plants, closing coal ash dumps, and improving the electric grid.

Duke says residential rates would rise an average 14.3%, if approved by regulators. A typical customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity monthly would pay about $17 more, or a total of about $138.

Don't let that "Ashevillle" area thing fool you; a healthy chunk of the people affected are not young urban professionals. Both Eastern and Western North Carolina suffer heavily from poverty, and this increase will push even more folks over that ledge. A higher electric bill *will* take food off the tables of many, especially those on a fixed income:

Coal Ash Wednesday: Lead isotope can trace origins of coal ash

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Duke Energy's "naturally occurring" argument just went lame:

Tests show that the tracer can distinguish between the chemical signature of lead that comes from coal ash and lead that comes from other major human or natural sources, including legacy contamination from leaded gasoline and lead paint. "Lead adds to our forensic toolbox and gives us a powerful new method for tracking fly ash contamination in the environment," said Avner Vengosh, professor of geochemistry and water quality at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment.

The tracer broadens scientists' ability to assess and monitor exposure risks of people who live or work near coal ash ponds and landfills or near sites where coal ash is being spread on soil as fill or reused for other purposes.

As I mentioned above, Duke Energy has played the "naturally occurring" card numerous times when individual toxic elements are discovered, and fossil fuel-friendly lawmakers have parroted those talking points ad nauseum during hearings and debates. I have often been frustrated with government regulators (state and federal) for not upping their scientific game to pierce that ambiguity. But in reality, they are simply not funded well enough to accomplish the R&D work and the regulatory work. Especially since the GOP took over the NC General Assembly and cut DENR's/DEQ's budget by over 40%. That research shortfall was not a coincidence, it was by design. Once again, we are blessed to have Avner and the Nicholas School working toward solutions:

Natural Gas is not the cure for Climate Change

It is actually making it worse:

"The time is now to stop building more fossil fuel construction," Shindell, who is part of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said on a conference call with reporters.

The press conference was arranged by NC WARN, a climate activism group that has opposed Duke Energy's expansion plans for years. Shindell keyed not just on carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas responsible for rising average temperatures, but on its less-covered cousin: Methane.

Methane is something like 60 times worse than carbon dioxide in trapping insolation, so it warrants much closer scrutiny than Co2 emissions. But its volatile nature makes that difficult, because it will escape into the atmosphere wherever it finds a weakness in its containment infrastructure. There are over 1.5 million active gas and oil wells in the United States alone, and each one suffers from fugitive emissions of Methane. Same goes with the pipelines, and monitoring thousands of miles of those is impossible, even if the industry tried. Which they don't. And this desperately needs a clarification:

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