Polluters get a free pass with "Biological Trump" rule

Not unlike throwing a suspected witch into a river to see if she drowns:

Proposed revisions to state surface water quality standards, including the numbers the state uses to evaluate metals, have been approved by the N.C. Environmental Management Commission in response to the federally-required Triennial Review of Surface Water Quality Standards. Also included in approval of the recommendations made during this standards review are:

•Health protective water quality standards for 2,4-D, a widely used herbicide.
Updated aquatic life protective concentrations for arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, chromium III, chromium VI, copper, lead, nickel, silver and zinc.
•Clarity on allowing site-specific standards to be developed when studies are done in accordance with guidance from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Bolding mine. I'm still perusing this massive document (1,000+ pages), but the gist of this "aquatic life" modification is to throw out previous toxicity levels and wait to see just how massive the fish-kills are after contamination:

Daily dose

Bipartisan NC justice overhaul keeps good marks (AP) — In an era of hyper-partisanship with elected officials worried about being accused as weak on crime, lawmakers got reminded of what looks like on its face a bipartisan success story on criminal justice issues.

Food Stamp Approval Mistakes Cost State $440K (TWCN-TV) -- Some families received as little as $11 extra, while others received as much as $12,000 in extra food assistance.

Fayetteville mayor cuts ties with N.C. Metro Mayors Coalition (Fayetteville Observer) -- Fayetteville Mayor Nat Robertson has severed ties with the N.C. Metropolitan Mayors Coalition. The first-term mayor says he opted this summer not to renew the city's membership because the coalition wasn't very effective at representing urban issues. Fayetteville officials were hoping to save the state's tax credits on historic properties and the privilege license fees charged to businesses. Both will be eliminated next year. "Those are huge failures for cities to have to deal with, costing us millions of dollars," Robertson said. The membership to the Metro Mayors Coalition cost the city about $13,000 last year, and Robertson cut that appropriation from this year's council budget.

NC GOP stacking the deck against Solar farms

Fracking cheerleader Womack all-of-a-sudden worried about water quality:

“It would impact the county because that land, you know, there are taxes being paid to the county now, and it would reduce some of those taxes, so it's not a good deal for the county,” Commission Chairman Charlie Parks said.

Commissioner Jim Womack said while he was also concerned about solar farms not paying as much in taxes, he did not want to stand in the way of renewable energy development as long as taxpayers aren't bearing the burden in the long run. “[The solar farms] end up with potentially large amounts of disruption of the soil with storm water runoff, which we could bear the cost of later,” he said.

Yes, if they're not landscaped properly, Solar farms could exacerbate stormwater runoff. But it's standard procedure to install berms and other features to avoid such problems. What isn't standard, however, is Womack's concern for water quality. Here's another Commissioner from a neighboring County:

Daily dose

Small-town blues: Rural communities struggle to chart a future (Fayetteville Observer) -- Many communities with fewer than 10,000 residents across the state were once depended on factories that employed hundreds or thousands. But in the late 20th century into the last decade, textile makers and other manufacturers closed their plants as they chased low wages to other countries. Even before the recession struck in 2007, much of rural North Carolina was economically stagnant or declining. The situation is much on the mind of rural state lawmakers, such as Rep. David Lewis of Dunn, next door to Erwin in Harnett County. Lewis, a Republican, is one of the higher-ranked lawmakers in the General Assembly. It's a challenge to bring jobs back to small towns, Lewis said. "Unfortunately, the jobs follow jobs," Lewis said. "In other words, these people that move into an area want their employees to have a certain standard of life, a certain standard of living. It's very difficult once the ball starts rolling toward the bigger town that has the restaurants and the movie theaters. Folks begin to live where they work."

NCDP Chair Randy Voller announces he will not run for second term

Randy Voller announced the news at the Executive Council meeting. No announcement in the larger Executive Committee meeting.

So far no fights have broken out. :)

I will add more once we arrive home. Adopting resolutions has been tedious, but much of the rest of the meeting has been very interesting. The best moment was the unexpected entry of Justice Cheri Beasley. She received a raucous standing ovation and was moved to tears. Second best moment was the surprise entrance of Justice Robin Hudson. Second only because she is not facing a recount.

Coal ash Commission led by equity fund manager

Because having the right person for the job is important:

"My goal for this commission is to establish the most effective and most efficient management of coal ash in America," said Michael Jacobs, the chairman of the new board. "This commission will focus on science, safety and economics, not politics."

Jacobs, the founder of a private-equity fund, was appointed by McCrory to lead the commission. Jacobs said the board's job will be to balance the safety of the state's citizens and environment against the massive cost of the cleanup.

Really, Pat? You're going into court to argue that you should be granted more appointments to this and other commissions, and yet your choice to chair an environmental "safeguard" entity is an investment advisor? That's almost as funny as this comment from Duke Energy:

Daily dose

NC Tax Revenue Down Through First Third Of Fiscal Year (WFAE-FM) -- North Carolina's tax revenues are down almost $400 million compared to the same period last year. That's according to a report the Office of the State Controller released Thursday on the first four months of the state's fiscal year.

Old-school lawmaker departs Congress - without regret (Raleigh News & Observer) -- At 83, North Carolina Republican Howard Coble is leaving Capitol Hill after 30 years. He often complained of government waste in his career – and he took it to lengths like no one else.

NOT FIXED YET? Mistakes in NC food stamp approvals jump in 2014 (Raleigh News & Observer) -- While North Carolina state workers rushed to reduce a crushing backlog of food stamp applications this year, they handed out about $440,000 in excess benefits to hundreds of households. The cost of the mistakes was substantially higher in 2014 than in 2012 and 2013,


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