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Coal Ash Wednesday: Arsenic and hog waste choking the Neuse

The Riverkeeper details the damage:

Every hour of every day, the coal ash pits on the bank of the Neuse River are illegally leaking dangerous contamination into the surrounding ground and surface water. In fact, one of the criminal charges against Duke Energy was for “negligently” constructing one of these creek-like discharges that continues to flow into the Neuse from the ash pits at this dump. The Lee site has the highest levels of arsenic contamination of all Duke’s ash dumps in North Carolina.

But yet another continuous source of pollution looms on the banks and tributaries of the Neuse: industrial hog operations, most of which are controlled by foreign corporate interests. Over 500 of the 2,000 industrial hog factories in North Carolina call the Neuse River Basin home. The 10 million hogs that live in our state produce roughly as much waste as 100 million people.

Much like coal ash, hog waste contamination has been a huge problem for decades. We haven't done nearly enough to abate the problem, but it looks like the new "business-friendly" administration of Skvarla and McCrory has dropped the ball entirely:

Daily dose: McCrory's 4th "E" should have been "Ethics."

Ethics complaint against McCrory appears to advance (Raleigh News & Observer) -- An ethics complaint filed against Gov. Pat McCrory in January for failing to disclose income from Duke Energy and Tree.com appears to be moving forward in the State Ethics Commission. A preliminary review period has passed, and neither the governor nor the complainant, an advocacy group called Progress N.C. Action, is commenting. Progress N.C. Action’s complaint alleges ethics law violations by McCrory over what it claims is a pattern by the governor of failing to fully disclose his financial interests as required.
http://www.newsobserver.com/2015/03/03/4597036_mccrory-ethics-complaint-apparently.html?rh=1

Tax Reform?

Conversation #1 from Facebook regarding the 'tax reform' given to us by our NCGA.
More to come!!

~sarcasm warning~ I can't thank our state legislature enough for the wonderful tax cuts that they've been bragging about for the past year (face palm)...Our gross income was $4k less this year....last year our state refund was $541, this year we owe the state $18.....I'm still trying to find that tax cut that they raved about....oh wait!!! I found it.....Art Pope got my tax cut.

Response from Friends:
-We owe $34 to NC. They're not getting it till April 10.

Hager tries to pull a fast one, gets caught

And we can all breathe easier, for now anyway:

"Representative Hager’s amendment removes the only statutory requirement for the EMC to move forward with regulation of air pollution from natural gas development. It does so without any legislative committee review or opportunity for public debate," McCallie wrote. Had the amendment remained attached to the bill, the state Senate could have sent the measure to the governor without a public hearing or committee examination.

"I really don't believe this amendment ought to be part of this bill," Rep. Chuck McGrady, R-Henderson, said of the measure. Hager shot back, saying, "Don't fool yourself ... this is about folks who don't like energy exploration."

Nice try, sport. Now put that ad hominem club back in the bag, and go home and lick your wounds.

Burr leans on bent think-tank to support his ACA alternative bill

Partisan politics and pseudo-scientific bullshit:

I certainly believe that both the Obama campaign and administration have sought to construct a political narrative that dispenses with inconvenient facts. The campaign narrative was that the U.S. economy was crumbling, broken by Republicans, and in need of being “rebuilt.”

That narrative supported “investments” — progressive-speak for massive federal spending — government takeovers where desired (health care) or needed by unions (autos), and massive deficits.

You're right, I put this diary together backwards, just so you browsers would get a taste of the "expert" that Senator Richard Burr hopes will give his horribly bad legislation a whiff of legitimacy:

Tale as old as time

There is something profoundly disturbing taking place in the town halls, government centers and places of worship in our state. In spite of being one of the most intellectually aware and spiritually in-tune states in the union a spirit of fear has taken hold of many who normally would be rational. A “mob” mentality has taken over where common sense once prevailed. If you listen closely to the words being echoed in government chambers and spoken from the pulpits of some North Carolina churches the tune being whistled is not “My Country Tis of Thee” or “Amazing grace”, but “Kill the Beast”.

Daily dose: Fear wins again edition

Charlotte LGBT ordinance fails 6-5 in contentious meeting (Charlotte Observer) -- After a contentious meeting on Monday, Charlotte City Council voted down the most controversial ordinance it has considered in years, a nondiscrimination proposal that would have added sexual orientation and gender identity to protected categories. Some 120 people signed up to speak at the 6 p.m. meeting. By 9:45 p.m., nearly 100 had addressed the council, one at a time, at two minutes each. Prior to the meeting, supporters and opponents sent nearly 40,000 emails to City Council members about the proposal.
http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/article11908907.html

This week on Jones Street

As we roll toward April 15th, it would be great to hear from North Carolina citizens everywhere about the Very Big Savings you're seeing on your tax bills. And while you're busy calculating your new-found wealth, you might want to look ahead to the coming Republican "Trojan Horse Tax Cuts":

  • Are you one of the people who had your mortgage written down after being defrauded by the banksters? If so, did you know that the amount of the write-down will now be taxed as income? Even though you'll never see a dime of that amount, guess what? You'll get to pay taxes on it! How cool is that?
  • Are you a student who was counting on being able to deduct tuition expenses from your taxable income? Count no more. If the NC House goes along with Phil Berger's plan, that deduction will be off the table.
  • Are you a person who drives a car? Well, congratulations. Thanks to some legislative sleight of hand, you'll be seeing the amount of tax you pay on gasoline go up, up, and more up later this year. Just you wait.

All of these insults to the middle class are on the docket this week in Raleigh. The only question is whether these bills will sneak through without debate or be rammed down our throats will a hearty "screw you." And that, of course, depends on what kind of speaker Tim Moore is. Will he turn out to be Phil Berger's "yes man" and do the dirty work of further shredding the middle class, or will he stand up and say, "this isn't right."

Smart money says he's a yes man. There not a hint of evidence that he can think for himself, and there's certainly no indication that he understands the toll Republican policies are taking on North Carolina's middle class.

If you're a rich guy who doesn't care about anyone else, you should be delighted this week with the legislature. The Republican plan to help you get even richer is well underway. To those who are counting on trickle down to lift all boats, well, you're basically shit out of luck.

PS Also, look for Democrats to propose legislation for equal rights for women in North Carolina, and that could include equal pay. Then look for Republicans to say "we don't need no stinkin' equality. A woman's place is under her man."

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