Duke Energy to add more carcinogens to already impaired waters

I guess they're not worried about the EPA anymore:

As part of its 2015 criminal plea agreement, Duke Energy admitted that bromide discharged into rivers and lakes from its coal ash operations have caused carcinogens to form in downstream drinking water systems. Some of these carcinogens are so dangerous that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has set their health protection goal at zero, meaning that people should not be exposed to any level of these pollutants.

Yet instead of taking responsible action to halt these bromide discharges, Duke Energy is proposing to add even more bromides to its coal ash basins, through changes to its coal plant operations. Duke Energy claims that the additional bromides will reduce emissions of mercury from its smokestacks. The utility is choosing this bromide production despite the fact that other modern, widely-used technologies—such as baghouses—are available to control mercury emissions without causing carcinogens downstream.

It's actually no comfort in realizing this is probably happening all over the United States, in the wake of the Trump admin's systematic destruction of the EPA. Hopefully our new DEQ will be able to bring some relief from the inevitable deterioration of our environment, but they've been cut to the bone also.

Monday News: United in resistance

bluenccup-1[1].jpg

CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS HOLDS SUMMIT OF LIBERALS AND PROGRESSIVES: The session, organized and co-hosted by the Center for American Progress’ political arm, is ostensibly meant to share best practices with these volunteer-driven groups, on subjects ranging from fundraising to organizing. But it also reflects the effort underway within the Democratic Party, where operatives who have battled Republicans for years are now trying to cooperate with newcomers who have been more successful capturing the energy of anti-Trump Americans than the professional class was during the 2016 campaign. “We’re trying to merge these two worlds, between the institutional left and the energy in the field,” said Emily Tisch Sussman, the Center for American Progress’ senior director of campaigns and advocacy. “I don’t think we should treat them as separate, but we have to be intentional about how we merge them.” It’s a process both sides say needs to go well if Democrats want to turn the so-called anti-Trump “resistance” movement into a force that can win elections.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article139232523.html

Trump's foreign "policy" is both clumsy and dangerous

The Tweeter-In-Chief needs a time-out in the corner:

Trump’s public appearances with Merkel betrayed an awkwardness between the two leaders, including during two widely remarked upon appearances in the White House. In one, the leaders failed to stage a handshake for cameras in the Oval Office, and in another Merkel looked baffled by comments made by Trump during a joint press conference. Before the visit Trump had repeatedly called Merkel’s policies “insane” and a “disaster” for Germany.

Trump’s second tweet accused Germany directly of not paying enough to the security alliance. In a joint press conference on Friday, Trump expressed “strong support” for Nato but reiterated his belief that member nations do not contribute a “fair share”. “Many nations owe vast sums of money from past years and it is very unfair to the United States,” he said. “These nations must pay what they owe.”

Welp, this is apparently what a whole lot of Americans wanted, a "leader" who speaks his mind, even if what he says has little roots in the truth and will very likely drag us into multiple military conflicts before his next State of the Union address. What Trump doesn't understand could fill a supertanker, but one of those things is this: The effectiveness of NATO as a deterrent has always been the unflinching support of the United States for its treaty partners. If that support is called into question, especially by the US President, the deterrent itself evaporates:

Sunday News: Counting the costs of institutional bigotry

HB2rainbow.jpg

A YEAR OF SHAME AND EMBARRASSMENT THANKS TO HB2: As North Carolina marks the first anniversary of House Bill 2 next week, an ongoing political stalemate is making a prolonged economic backlash – and future anniversaries – likely. The law, widely criticized as anti-LGBT, has cost North Carolinians jobs, money, performances and events, including this month’s NCAA basketball tournament. “The longer it stays on our books, the more difficulty we will have repairing the damage,” Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper said last week. “It’s hard to quantify the damage.” Through research and interviews with economists, Politifact estimates that HB2 has cost North Carolina between $450 million and $630 million. But in perspective, that accounts for 0.1 percent of the state’s annual gross domestic product, notes Michael Walden, an N.C. State economist. “So we know that it’s hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of jobs, but it could be worse than that because what we’re not getting is what we don’t know,” Cooper said.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/under-the-dome/article13...

The battles over Durham-Orange Light Rail project continue

And the naysayers are getting creative:

To kill the project, opponents know they can’t appear to be anti-transit. Instead, they must convince you there are better, cheaper options. In their latest campaign, opponents revive their old claim that bus rapid transit (BRT), which uses buses on dedicated roadways instead of trains on light rail tracks, is inherently better and dramatically cheaper. But, they say, stubborn train lovers at GoTriangle refuse to examine a bus alternative.

Dedicated roadways for buses makes about as much sense as personal "pods" that individuals can hop into like their own little taxicabs. The traffic issues in driving a car from downtown Durham to downtown Chapel Hill and back have become horrendous, and further development *is* going to happen, whether people want it to or not. Between the two hospitals (Duke, UNC) alone, there are some 17,000 employees. That's not counting other University staff from the schools themselves. Light rail may not solve all the transportation/parking problems, but it is a critical element of the solution. Here's more from Orange Politics' Molly de Marco:

Saturday News: 2 out of 3 ain't bad

gavelbanging.jpg

THREE JUDGE PANEL RULES AGAINST 2 GOP POWER GRABS, OKAYS 3RD: The N.C. General Assembly’s attempt to revamp the state elections board and ethics commission weeks before Democrat Roy Cooper was sworn in as the new governor violates the state Constitution, a three-judge panel ruled on Friday. The judges also found unconstitutional the legislature’s shift of managerial and policy-making employees from former Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration to positions where it’s more difficult to replace them. But the Republican-controlled General Assembly’s attempt to have a say in who joins Cooper’s Cabinet was not found to be a violation of the separation of powers clause in the state Constitution. The 42-page order is the latest in an escalating power struggle between the Democrat at the helm of the executive branch and the Republicans leading the two chambers of the General Assembly.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article139231588.html?utm_conten...

Avangrid takes first step in Kitty Hawk offshore wind farm project

Where there's wind blowing, there's clean power to be had:

Avangrid Renewables won the bid Thursday to lease 122,405 acres off the Outer Banks coast for a wind farm. The company competed against three others before offering the winning amount of $9.1 million, according to a release from the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. Avangrid Renewables also built a land-based wind farm of about 22,000 acres near Elizabeth City.

Avangrid will have to set up testing towers and other equipment to assess the site before submitting a construction plan over the next approximately five years, including how many wind towers to build and how far apart to build them. The federal government will review the project and hold public hearings before construction can begin.

I am a little concerned that much of the permitting will be overseen by the Trump administration, and no doubt the puppets of the fossil fuel industry will be seeking creative ways to disrupt the process. But we'll be keeping an eye on that stuff, so they better pack more than just a lunch. Here's more about the company and its dedication to environmental stewardship:

Friday News: Slumlord in Chief

TRUMP BUDGET SLASHES AFFORDABLE HOUSING PROGRAMS: In Charlotte, for instance, cuts in Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) would adversely impact a Habitat for Humanity of Charlotte program that fixes damaged owner-occupied homes, the organization’s leaders say. “It would pretty much gut the program,” said Phil Prince, Habitat for Humanity of Charlotte’s director of marketing and communication. “It would have traumatic consequences if (cuts) would pass in this form.” Trump is trying to overhaul federal government spending, placing a priority on the military and national security. He’s dubbed the his spending proposal a “skinny budget” for the federal government and it has won early praise from conservative groups and Republican lawmakers.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article138978168.html

Pages

Subscribe to BlueNC RSS