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Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Morning Roundup: Today, We End This

Posted By on Tue, Nov 8, 2016 at 7:58 AM

Good morning, guys and gals. The great American nightmare that has seen the rise of the worst presidential candidate in history is almost over. And in the interest of time—because instead of reading this, we would rather you were voting—we're going to keep this short and sweet. Let's dive in. 1) Trump showed up in Raleigh yesterday, lied within thirty seconds of taking stage. According to the Donald, there were thousands of people still waiting to pack into Dorton Arena when his speech began. THOUSANDS! Well, we checked. There were less than 100—and a handful of them were the men...

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Monday, November 7, 2016

Undercover at North Carolina's Final Gathering of Trump's Army

Posted By on Mon, Nov 7, 2016 at 9:19 PM

The first thing that struck me was the parking lot—how a nearly silent stretch of pavement could speak so loudly through vitriolic bumper stickers (including, many times over, the ever-popular slogan “Hillary for Prison”) and derogatory messages (most about President Barack Obama) painted on car windows. I mean, these vehicles, for the most part, weren’t even carrying messages of support for the man set to speak hours later inside the arena located a few hundred yards away. And as I walked toward the venue, I found more of the same in the T-shirts, hats and buttons being hawked by those...

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Friday, October 21, 2016

To Keep Track of Trees, Durham Branches Out to Develop Inventory, Assessment

Posted By on Fri, Oct 21, 2016 at 3:18 PM

Durham takes its trees seriously. In neighborhoods on the west side of town residents take pride in their huge willow oaks—the sprawling branches provide shade in the summer and plenty of leaves to play in during the fall. But those trees are in danger, and will likely die within the next decade. There’s also an equity problem in terms of urban forestry—the neighborhoods on the east side of Durham have few trees. The city has been working to address both problems—the pending death of many of the street trees and the inequity of trees in the city. On Thursday,...

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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Following a Federal Settlement, Duke Energy Is Funding Solar Schools across N.C.—Including in Durham

Posted By on Thu, Oct 20, 2016 at 9:41 AM

NC Green Power, a Raleigh nonprofit, is partnering with Duke Energy to provide 100 percent of the cost of solar for ten schools in the Duke Energy Carolinas territory—essentially, from Durham to west of Charlotte along I-85. The program stems from a September 2015 settlement between Duke and the federal government over the energy giant’s alleged violations of the Clean Air Act. Duke will invest $300,000 in solar photovoltaic systems for schools—which must apply by December 2—as part of a $4.4 million settlement that commits Duke to funding environmental projects. Duke will base its solar PV project on NC Green...

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Thursday, October 6, 2016

Duke Energy Operates Several of the Nation's 'Super Polluters,' Report Finds

Posted By on Thu, Oct 6, 2016 at 10:07 AM

If you stuck around and slogged through the vice presidential debate Tuesday night, you might have heard Republican candidate Mike Pence talk about Democrats' "war on coal." Pence's running mate has been using this language a lot recently, too. It's very obviously an attempt to court disenfranchised white voters in places like Appalachia, where coal production has plummeted due to the emergence of cleaner and cheaper energy sources like natural gas. This here is a pretty handy chart.  Last week, the Center for Public Integrity published a superbly researched report called "America's Super Polluters." You should read it. Among the...

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Support the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in Hillsborough Tonight

Posted By on Tue, Sep 20, 2016 at 4:16 PM

Up in North Dakota, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and environmentalist groups continue to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline, which seeks to carry as much as 400,000 barrels of crude oil a day from the Bakken region of western North Dakota across South Dakota and Iowa before connecting with an existing pipeline in Illinois. This path darts across ancestral Native American land and under the Missouri River. Opposition to the pipeline scored a victory last week, when the federal government temporarily halted construction of the 1,134-mile project.  As protesters hold their ground and brace for the next steps, organizers across the country...

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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Morning Roundup: Chelsea Avoids Plague, NCAA Avoids McCrory's North Carolina

Posted By on Tue, Sep 13, 2016 at 7:41 AM

Good morning, folks. And for those of you who consider the opportunity to laugh at lunacy a gift, this isn't just any morning. This is Christmas morning. So let's dive toward that tree and start ripping through some wrapping paper ... so to speak. 1) NCAA pulls tournament games from North Carolina because of HB 2. Sorry college basketball, women's and men's soccer, golf, lacrosse, tennis and baseball fans. This just happened because of HB 2 (and, more to the point, that guy who lives in the Governor's Mansion). From the INDY: Greensboro was slated to host first- and second-round...

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Monday, September 12, 2016

Breaking: Red Wolf Recovery Program Spared by Feds

Posted By on Mon, Sep 12, 2016 at 2:19 PM

Despite an aggressive lobbying effort by some North Carolina officials—an effort confirmed by a legislative source a few weeks ago—the roughly forty red wolves living in the eastern part of the state will live on. Officials from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced this afternoon that the federal government would not be abandoning the Red Wolf Recovery Program, a decades-old effort to save an animal that was on the brink of extinction when it was officially listed as an endangered species in 1967—a decision that is being celebrated by advocates.  "Our reality is, red wolves in the wild will require intensive, hands-on...

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Friday, May 27, 2016

The Morning Roundup: The End of Days Is Officially Nigh

Posted By on Fri, May 27, 2016 at 8:29 AM

1. The Four Horseman are suiting up. We’ll begin with an item that, while not really being “news,” is nonetheless kind of mind-boggling: Donald Trump—the orange-hued reality-TV insult comic, the animated incarnation of those conspiracy chain emails your aunt sends you—will officially be the Republican Party’s nominee for president. Of the United States.  God help us all.  The New York billionaire shrugged off signs of discord in his party hours after sewing up the number of delegates needed to clinch the GOP nomination, a feat that completed an unlikely rise that has upended the political landscape and set the...

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Friday, May 13, 2016

The Morning Roundup: Pat McCrory, Bully Fighter

Posted By on Fri, May 13, 2016 at 8:32 AM

Another day, another round of HB 2 news.  1. The feds won’t cut off our funding (yet).  Even though the Department of Justice is suing the state for violating the Civil Rights Act, the White House has announced that it will not defund North Carolina while the lawsuits are in progress.  North Carolina won’t lose billions in federal education money while the Department of Justice and state leaders spar over House Bill 2 in court, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Thursday. The department sent state leaders a letter last week saying that HB2 violates the Civil Rights Act...

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Friday, May 6, 2016

The Morning Roundup: Bathroom Segregation Now, Bathroom Segregation Forever!

Posted By on Fri, May 6, 2016 at 8:26 AM

Greetings and salutations, fellow Friday enthusiasts! Let’s jump right in.  1. Bathroom segregation now, bathroom segregation forever.  So House Speaker Tim Moore, who has a long history of hating on the gays, has decided that no, North Carolina will not answer the Department of Justice on HB 2 by the Monday deadline.  The department sent state leaders a letter Wednesday saying that the law violates the Civil Rights Act and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 – a finding that could jeopardize billions in federal education funding. Those laws ban employment discrimination and discrimination in education based on...

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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Duke University Calls for Legalization of Third-Party Energy Sales in N.C.

Posted By on Thu, Apr 21, 2016 at 1:51 PM

North Carolina is one of only five states with a law on the books that specifically prohibits third-party energy sales. This presents a problem for property owners who wish to buy renewable energy for their homes. Elsewhere, you could pay a solar provider to build a solar system on your property, lease the system from that provider, and buy the energy the system produced directly from that provider. Such power-purchase agreements (PPAs) are especially attractive because they make solar much more affordable for ordinary people. They also appeal to nonprofits, who would be allowed to monetize federal investment tax credits...

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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

McCrory Loses, North Carolina Coasts Win: Obama Administration Withdraws Plan to Allow Drilling in Southeast Atlantic Waters

Posted By on Tue, Mar 15, 2016 at 1:24 PM

Big day for environmentalists and anyone who generally doesn't like the idea of tarballs washing up onto their shores: The Obama administration announced this morning that it had reversed course on its plan for oil and gas drilling in the southeast Atlantic coast. There will be no drilling off the coasts of Virginia, Georgia, South Carolina, or North Carolina under the new plan.  The administration's original decision to open up the waters to drilling, announced last year, was met with a flood of opposition. Over a hundred coastal cities, including more than twenty-five communities in North Carolina, passed resolutions against offshore...

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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

UNC Law School's Environmental Center Now Brought To You By Duke Energy

Posted By on Tue, Feb 23, 2016 at 2:56 PM

What is currently called the UNC Center for Law, Environment, Adaptation and Resources will soon be renamed the UNC School of Law Center for Climate, Energy, Environment and Economics (CE3).  What's in a name? In this case, a few things. According to director Victor Flatts, the new name "reflects the center’s expanded mission to become the nation’s first law and policy center specifically devoted to the intersection of climate, energy law, environmental law and economic development."  But also: the reorientation of UNC's environmental law center is being funded by Duke Energy, which last year pleaded guilty to several environmental crimes —...

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Monday, February 15, 2016

Here Is What Happens When a Mild Wintry Mix Crosses into the Middle of North Carolina

Posted By on Mon, Feb 15, 2016 at 4:57 PM

The Triangle has a, let's say, poor reputation for handling winter weather. That reputation was reinforced last night and today, as a mix of snow and sleet hit the region. Dozens of schools closed, government offices delayed opening, and a lot of people got into car wrecks. The most recent WRAL report says three hundred automotive collisions occurred in the Triangle (plus over a thousand statewide) between midnight and 10:30 a.m. It's safe to say there have been several more in the hours since.  Granted, sleet makes the roads slick, but for context, this is how much snow is in my...

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Friday, January 15, 2016

Activists say North Carolina’s Clean Power Plan doesn’t do enough to help the poor—on purpose

Posted By on Fri, Jan 15, 2016 at 3:01 PM

Last August, the EPA unveiled a draft version of its Clean Power Plan, an effort to stave off climate change by making coal plants cleaner, increasing energy efficiency the use of renewable resources and using gas plant more effectively. Under the plan, each state has to devise a proposal for cutting carbon emissions by a targeted amount—in North Carolina’s case, an ambitious 39 percent reduction over 2012 levels. That goal has not sat well with the McCrory administration. “Not only will these new federal rules raise electricity rates,” Gov. Pat McCrory said in August, “they have the potential to jeopardize...

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Thursday, December 31, 2015

DEQ unveils coal-ash risk classifications; environmentalist groups say they're watered down

Posted By on Thu, Dec 31, 2015 at 5:09 PM

Today, on the dumpiest news-dump day of the year, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality released its draft classifying the risk levels of coal-ash sites in North Carolina. Environmental groups generally agree: It is weak as hell. The DEQ was required to rank 14 of Duke Energy's sites across N.C. Those deemed “high” risk would be excavated and cleaned out by 2019; “intermediate” risk would be excavated and cleaned out by 2019. Sites deemed “low” risk are more of a toss-up; they may continue to exist, or they might be excavated, or they might sit in limbo for several...

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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

N.C.'s fracking capitol approves drilling ban

Posted By on Tue, Dec 8, 2015 at 2:10 PM

This was expected, but, somehow, it still seems stunning. On Monday night, county commissioners in Lee County— likely North Carolina's prime hotbed for natural gas drilling, according to geologists—approved a sweeping, two-year moratorium on fracking within the county. The vote, which was backed by five of seven county commissioners, comes just a handful of years after residents in the economically troubled industrial county seemed overwhelmingly in support of drilling.  What a difference a few years and a tidal wave of bad publicity can make. Environmental groups, predictably, hailed the news Monday.  The two-year ban may someday prompt a lawsuit....

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Legal case begins against coal ash dumps in Chatham, Lee counties

Posted By on Tue, Dec 8, 2015 at 10:38 AM

Two days after Thanksgiving, with plans for coal-ash dumping underway in abandoned brick mines in rural Chatham and Lee counties, community advocates made their last plea for a little holiday charity from Duke Energy. “The solution to the coal ash problem is not spreading the contamination to other sites,” wrote Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League executive director Louis Zeller in a “cease-and-desist” letter to Duke CEO Lynn Good. “Duke Energy has already polluted far too many North Carolina communities.” Cue the crickets. Now, without voluntary action from Duke and its contractors, environmentalists will have to pin their hopes on...

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Friday, December 4, 2015

Judge rules against 13-year-old climate change activist

Posted By on Fri, Dec 4, 2015 at 1:44 PM

The 13-year-old who took North Carolina to court over climate change has lost her case. While Superior Court Judge Michael Morgan has yet to hand down his official ruling in Hallie Turner's case, Turner's family tells the Indy that the judge did notify the family that he has ruled in favor of the state.  Turner, a climate activist since the fourth grade, asked N.C.'s Environmental Management Commission (EMC), a board of appointees that drafts rules for environmental protections, to issue a rule requiring the state to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by at least 4 percent each year.  "Our...

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Wednesday, December 2, 2015

State cites Duke Energy for permit violations at Asheville coal ash dump

Posted By on Wed, Dec 2, 2015 at 2:14 PM

This didn't take very long.  The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) said Wednesday that it has cited Duke Energy for a pair of permit violations at its Asheville Regional Airport dumping site.   According to the notice of violations, which you can read in its entirety here, Duke inspectors noticed exposed coal combustion products caused by erosion on Oct. 29. Under its permit with DEQ, Duke has 24 hours to notify the state of such a violation, but DEQ's Asheville office did not receive notification until Nov. 2, according to the state agency.  Duke is expected to dispose...

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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Rockingham, Lee counties move toward fracking moratoriums

Posted By on Tue, Nov 17, 2015 at 4:15 PM

How political winds change. Five years ago, hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking, was a godsend in recession-ravaged locales like Lee County. Yet on Monday, one election and a tidal wave of bad publicity later, two counties in the heart of North Carolina's prospective drilling basins are moving to at least temporarily ban drilling within their borders. WFMY is reporting in Rockingham County, part of the Dan River Basin, that county commissioners unanimously approved a two-year fracking moratorium Monday. And in Lee County, a potential hotbed for drilling south of the Triangle in the Deep River Basin, commissioners took...

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Friday, November 13, 2015

Lee County may vote next week to impose a temporary ban on fracking

Posted By on Fri, Nov 13, 2015 at 2:59 PM

The backlash against North Carolina's fracking prospects continues, and in the state's hottest drilling destination, no less.  Commissioners in Lee County—where drilling leasing has already begun—may vote as soon as next week on a controversial, two-year moratorium on fracking, following up on neighboring Chatham County's vote to do the same in August.  Fracking permitting "without thorough study would be premature and could result in standards that are inadequate to regulate or mitigate the local impacts," the board's draft resolution reads. Support for drilling in these counties has eroded in recent years as stories spread of widespread environmental impacts in...

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Judge promises ruling by Thanksgiving in Hallie Turner's case against North Carolina

Posted By on Fri, Nov 13, 2015 at 2:19 PM

Hallie Turner sounds tired. Oral arguments are finished in the 13-year-old Raleigh girl's climate change case against North Carolina, and Superior Court Judge Michael Morgan is promising a ruling by Thanksgiving. But Turner seems disappointed that she didn't get a chance to speak during Friday's hearing, even though the judge did acknowledge that he admired Turner for her resolve in pursuing this case. "It's nice to know that my voice was heard, no matter how this turns out," she says. Turner is hoping the judge will force North Carolina to take action on climate change. The teen called on the...

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A 13-year-old takes North Carolina to court over climate change

Posted By on Wed, Nov 11, 2015 at 1:19 PM

Here's the newest tactic in approaching errant policymakers: Use very, very smart children to shame them publicly. This Friday in the Wake County Courthouse, oral arguments are scheduled to begin in a lawsuit brought by a 13-year-old from Raleigh named Hallie Turner, a climate change activist since the fourth grade. The teen is asking the state to issue an edict that would require North Carolina to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by at least 4 percent each year. It's an idea that has never caught on with industry leaders or, for that matter, legislators in Raleigh. Here's Hallie's story,...

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I'm honestly surprised. I had expected that he would only accept if the vote flipped.

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