Coal Ash Wednesday: Famous last words

The propaganda train is already rollin' down the tracks:

All coal ash brought to a former clay mine in Sanford would be transported by rail only, Duke Energy and Charah representatives said at a Sanford Environmental Advisory Board meeting Tuesday. Between rail transportation and onsite trucking, Price said there still is a zero-tolerance policy for coal ash dust.

“Once we put it in the rail car, we will spray something on it to seal it,” he said, adding that once the coal ash reaches the site, it will remain at 20 percent moisture. “As long as we keep the moisture at the 20 percent, it does not get airborne.”

Just so everybody understands what this means: The coal ash is not going to be put into those sealed hazardous waste tanker cars, it will be transported in open-top hoppers, directly exposed to the air. And they're going to wet it down at the start, and hope like hell he wind and forward motion of the train don't cause enough evaporation to dry it out (the top layers, anyway) and set it loose in the air. I think we should require them to publish the rail shipping schedule, so observers can be on site in different locations to monitor the ash trains. But I doubt they will volunteer that information.

Daily dose: The party of "No!" version


Republicans Have One Word For President’s Proposals, Veto Threats: ‘No!’ (New York Times) -- “No” seems to be all anyone wants to say in this town anymore. In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, President Obama enumerated policies that he opposed, from rolling back Wall Street regulations to exempting more businesses from their obligation to provide health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. … For their part, Republicans immediately rejected most of the proposals that were central to Mr. Obama’s address, saying he was obviously not serious about working with them to pass consequential bipartisan legislation. … “I think this was a tremendous missed opportunity for this administration,” Senator Richard M. Burr, R-N.C., said. “When you start out with multiple veto threats and you show no willingness to even meet somewhere in the middle on issues that have been percolating for some time, it gives you very little hope that there’s going to be a breakthrough.”

Obama to address radical extremist group

Daily dose: State of dis-Union edition

Just another Obama speech (Politico) -- When President Barack Obama appears before Congress for Tuesday’s State of the Union, he’ll be facing the largest group of Republican lawmakers in more than 80 years, going back to the days when Herbert Hoover ran the country. For Obama, the address is an opportunity to lay out his agenda as he prepares to do battle with a Congress the GOP now fully controls. For Republicans, it’s just another presidential speech. … “I expect a laundry list that extends further than he’s ever done in a speech that lasts longer than the last,” said Sen. Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican who faces reelection in 2016. “I’m not sure the State of the Union address is in any way, shape or form sufficient to ease the fears that the American people have.” Asked if he thought Obama would shift to the political center during his most important speech of the year, Burr deadpanned: “No. No hope. No hope.”

Editor's note: the only thing more idiotic than Burr's answer is the question itself.

WRAL tracking McCrory's campaign promises

Not that voters are really paying attention:

WRAL News identified 33 specific promises McCrory made while on the campaign trail and, through our Promise Tracker feature, have been keeping tabs on whether he keeps his word. Of those promises, McCrory has accomplished 17. Another four are marked "kept so far," which means he will achieve that goal if his office's policies don't change. Combined, that's a full two-thirds of the promises we're tracking.

During McCrory's two years in office, the tracker has rated only two promises as broken. One relates to additional abortion regulations; the other relates to developing an ethics plan at the start of his term.

There are a couple of major problems I see with this approach to "rating" the performance of McCrory. The first is evident from the sentence above: When issues are broken down into sheer numbers, the importance of some are diminished. He gets a "No" on adding abortion restrictions, but a "Yes" on allowing industry to be more involved in their own regulation. In reality, the abortion statement he made was a bald-faced lie that seriously compromised the rights of both female patients and doctors, and it deserves more than just a check-off on a list. The second problem with this approach is it only tracks campaign promises, as opposed to promises he's made as Governor. Like holding Duke Energy accountable for the Dan River coal ash spill, and then allowing them to claim "mission accomplished" while 90+% of the coal ash remains in the River. If we're not going to track all of his lies, what's the point?

Daily dose: Keeping the dream alive


Barber: 'Moral Monday' movement similar to civil rights movement (WRAL-TV) -- North Carolina NAACP President William Barber used the pulpit at Duke University Chapel Sunday to equate Martin Luther King Jr.’s civil rights efforts with the “Moral Monday” movement, saying the push for social equality is still needed. "I believe we are possibly in the embryonic stages of a third reconstruction in America," said Barber, the keynote speaker at Duke’s MLK program. "And if we come together even the more, if we return to our fortresses as prisoners of hope, there's no telling what God is going to do."

Questions for the Candidates for NCDP Chair

The election for NCDP Chair is just weeks away. On February 7, members of the State Executive Committee of the North Carolina Democratic Party will meet in Chatham County to elect the person who will lead the party for the next two years. Barring any nominations from the floor, there are four candidates who have announced their intentions to run for the seat - Patsy Keever, Ron Sanyal, Constance "Connie" Johnson, and Janice Covington Allison.


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