Saturday News: Stand fast, Charlotte

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TALK OF HB2 REPEAL DEAL RESURFACES (WRAL-TV) -- A group representing restaurants and hotels said Friday that it has been working behind the scenes to broker a deal that could lead to the repeal of HB2, but there's no guarantee anything will come from the effort. Lynn Minges, president and chief executive of the N.C. Restaurant & Lodging Association, said her group has "received assurances" from legislative leaders that the General Assembly is prepared to meet in special session as early as next week to repeal HB2, provided that the Charlotte City Council first repeals a local ordinance that requires businesses to allow transgender people to use the public restroom of their choosing.
http://www.wral.com/talk-of-hb2-repeal-deal-resurfaces/16021170/

Friday News: Bringing home the family bacon

FOR GOP SENATOR'S POLITICAL FUNDS, IT'S ALL IN THE FAMILY (McClatchy Newspapers) — Sen. Richard Burr's political committees have paid nearly $200,000 over the last 16 years to his in-laws and a firm employing his son for office rent and administrative services. The previously undisclosed arrangements appear to be legal, but they could provide campaign fodder for Burr's Democratic challenger, Deborah Ross. Since 2000, the committee has paid $88,724, at the rate of $464.10 per month, to his sister-in-law, Mary Fauth. She has served as the treasurer of his leadership PAC, the Next Century Fund. Over that same span, the Next Century Fund also has paid $400 monthly in rent and utilities, totaling $75,600, to Fauth's husband, Gerald W. Fauth III, a lobbyist based in Alexandria, Va.
http://www.sdjewishworld.com/2016/09/15/for-gop-senators-political-funds-its-all-in-the-family/

McCrory's rhetoric now just chanting "North Carolina!" over and over again

This is just embarrassing:

“I’ve got to assume it’s politics because this is the No. 1 state in the presidential campaign, this is the No. 1 gubernatorial race in the United States of America,” McCrory said. “I can’t prove that, but why would they not be doing this in Texas right now?”

“We’re going to plug on,” McCrory said. “North Carolina is resilient. North Carolina is strong. North Carolina is inclusive. North Carolina is welcoming. And I am going to defend North Carolina.”

Because the more you blurt out the name of your state, the more it proves your love. In reality, this sounds more like a guy who knows his girlfriend is about to break up with him than a confident elected official. Geez.

Op-Ed on the devastation of the wood pellet industry

In which I take Steve Troxler to task:

Just looking at the hog industry alone, the sheer number of animals and the waste they produce here in North Carolina has created a water quality crisis that has crossed over into other industries that support tens of thousands of our fellow North Carolinians. Many fish in eastern North Carolina are no longer edible, and massive fish kills are becoming more frequent. Which leads us to what Steve Troxler is not: an environmentalist. So when he starts bandying around terms like "renewable" and "sustainable," it gets my antennas waving a little bit.

Using woody biomass in place of coal to fire the steam generators in power plants is relatively new. I had a debate with an N.C. State grad student several years ago about this very thing, and he assured me (because he had been assured) there was more than enough scruffy byproduct from land development to scratch this particular itch. I tried to explain to him the sheer volume needed would soon have us chopping down healthy trees to keep the supply flowing. I wish I had been wrong, but I wasn't.

Please hop the link and go read the whole thing at the Fayetteville Observer. The more traffic articles like this get, the more likely they will publish other opinions of a similar nature in the future.

High Arsenic levels reveal dangers of de-watering

Of course, Duke Energy spokesbot sez "No big deal":

Scott said the water tested was contaminated with arsenic at a level four times higher than the surface water safety standard. Nearby neighbors were disturbed by the findings. "We are very concerned, and this is another reason why Duke Energy needs to full clean up all that coal ash,” said Deborah Graham.

Duke Energy said the findings are very misleading. "Elevated arsenic levels are located immediately near the permitted release area. If you sample a short distance away in the river arsenic levels are well within the appropriate standard and would pose no risk to people on the river,” said Duke Energy Spokesperson Erin Culbert.

Did you sample that water a short distance away, or is that just speculation? The "if" leads me to believe you didn't, or you would have said something like, "Samples taken a short distance away..." While everybody reading this is probably aware Arsenic is some bad stuff, the health problems associated with long-term exposure are numerous:

Thursday News: Koch/Burr love affair sprouts

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KOCHS TARGET N.C. TO BOOST VOTER OUTREACH IN SENATE FIGHTS (USA TODAY) -- The Koch brothers’ political network is ramping up its ground game in key states to help save the Republican Party’s majority in the Senate, as the GOP faces new threats in states such as North Carolina in the final push to Election Day. The Koch ad buys run through until Oct. 5, but officials have no plans to continue advertising after that date, Davis told reporters Wednesday.
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2016/09/14/koch-groups-boost-voter-outreach-8...

Dan Forest is certifiably insane, and obviously unfit for office

And yet we've allowed him to preside over the NC Senate:

“It’s hard for me to imagine that my wife would have to walk into a bathroom anywhere in North Carolina and have a man follow her into that bathroom,” Forest said. “They said that in the city of Charlotte, you have to take the (gender) signs off your bathrooms,” he said. “They’re actually a test lab for a radical sexual revolution experiment.”

The Charlotte ordinance did not require the removal of gender-specific bathrooms, nor did its provisions involve signage.

A radical...what? Seriously, someone needs to sit him down and do a full psychological evaluation. Conspiracy theories are bad enough, but this dude has crossed over into full-on delusional behavior...

Brad Miller blasts House Science Committee for Exxon kow-towing

What was that about "states' rights"?

In July, the Committee issued subpoenas to the Attorneys General of New York and Massachusetts concerning state investigations under state law in state court, to a private law firm that has represented state and local governments and private parties in environmental litigation, and to several environmental organizations.

The Committee’s investigation and the state government and private investigations are not concurrent investigations of the same questions; the Committee is investigating the investigations. The initial stated purpose for the Committee’s subpoenas was to determine if the state proceedings unconstitutionally abridged ExxonMobil’s freedom of speech to deny climate change, and to protect ExxonMobil’s rights in the proceedings.

Bolding mine. Congress really has turned into a circus under Republican leadership. Or maybe a better metaphor is "flea market." You see something you want, quote me a price. But this one is really over the top:

Coal Ash Wednesday: US Senate on the verge of removing coal ash protections

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Undermining the EPA's long-awaited rules:

The U.S. Senate is preparing to vote as early as next week on a bill, The Water Resources Development Act of 2016, that may include a coal ash amendment that would significantly undercut the Environmental Protection Agency’s federal coal ash rule.

Prior to EPA’s rule, coal ash disposal was subject to a patchwork of state regulations that left communities vulnerable to hundreds of cases of damage or catastrophic spills. EPA’s rule establishes clear requirements for monitoring, cleanup, closure, and public notification that keep the public safe and informed, but these bright-line requirements of the rule are now in jeopardy, as this bill could allow polluters to have EPA’s clear standards swapped for site-specific standards that “differ” from EPA’s standards.

The fossil fuel industry learned a long time ago it was easier to manipulate state governments than the EPA, examples of which we've seen numerous times here in NC. And as usual, Republicans in Congress are using much-needed funding (Flint water crisis) as a hostage to serve their industry masters' desires. Here's more detail on this reckless amendment:

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