John Skvarla

Skvarla sweeps Dems off board, replaces with Republicans

But it had nothing to do with politics, of course:

But Ross has her own suspicions. The booted members were all registered Democrats, according to the N.C. State Board of Elections. Of the new members who are registered voters, all are Republican. “I can’t speak for DENR,” Ross said. “What I do know is that I’m a registered Republican, and I have to say I suspect that was the reason I was kept on the board.”

But the Pigeon River Fund isn’t a political board. Its members are tasked with reviewing grant applications, visiting sites and deciding which projects to fund. The members tend to be united by their knowledge of or interest in water quality, not by their politics. “Politics never came in, I can tell you that,” Melville said. “The recommendations [for board appointees] came in from people that had an interest in the water quality.”

We'll see about that. Local or county GOP party officials have never been adept at hiding their motives, because the only way they stay in power is if everybody knows how influential they are. Film at eleven.

DENR is unfit. Is de-delegation the answer?

John Skvarla likes to joke that he was surprised as anyone when Deputy Assistant Governor McCrory named him to lead the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Of course, that's total bullshit. Skvarla had been lobbying for more than a year to land the job, for which he is spectacularly unqualified. His mission? Find a way to gut environmental protections so vultures (like him) can make money trying to fix things after the fact. And that's just what he's doing.

Problem is, almost everything Skvarla is doing undermines federal guidelines for environmental stewardship. He is methodically destroying water and air protections, leaving North Carolina at the mercy of business interests whose only agenda is profit taking.

The latest move to lay out the red carpet for Titan Cement is but the latest in a crush of irresponsible, short-sighted actions that threaten North Carolina's present and future.

The Coal Ash Governor

For those who had requested it, it turns out that BackwardNC has located an interesting parody song that describes Deputy Assistant Guvnor Pat's "rise" to the undisputed title of "Coal Ash Governor", equivalently known as "The King of Coal Ash".

Pat is a very clueless person. But we knew that when we didn't vote for him. We sympathize with the ones whom Pat fooled.

Breaking: McCrory pitches coal-ash smokescreen

There's a reason they call Pat McCrory the King of Coal Ash. He loves the stuff and is doing everything he can to protect Duke Energy's interests as the ash-pond debacle plays out. So instead of choosing the right thing (moving coal ash dumps away from rivers), he's developing a complex scheme to get away with doing the wrong thing (leaving it where it is).

Plus, watch out. When a greeder like John Skvarla uses his bully pulpit to call a citizen "sophomoric," you can be sure some good old-fashioned f*ck-you customer service won't be far behind.

WRAL has the story.

Duke Energy roundup: keeping records private, shareholders upset, and Locke Foundation makes snowballs in hell

Duke Energy has filed a motion with a Federal judge asking that records requested during the Federal investigation into the company's coal ash debacle be kept from state regulators and environmental groups that had sued Duke Energy under the Clean Water Act.

Frank Holleman, senior staff attorney with the environmental law group, said Duke's motion is a stalling tactic.

"They are using the fact that they are caught up in a federal criminal investigation related to their coal ash storage as an excuse to try to postpone the enforcement of the law against them," he said. "It's exactly backward from how you think the law would operate."

Whine with that sleaze: Skvarla's back in the op-eds

Save it for the Federal investigators, pal:

Thank you for pointing out in your March 23 editorial “ Before coal ash spill, GOP was bashing environmental rules, groups” that the spill into the Dan River from Duke Energy’s 1968 coal ash pond was not the fault of the McCrory administration. How gracious.

While the McCrory administration, the EPA and others work to solve this longstanding problem, you have used it in your ongoing efforts to attack the governor. It is unfortunate for you that you must include the inconvenient fact that, while nothing was done about coal ash for decades under Democratic leadership, the McCrory administration took swift action, suing the utility over groundwater contamination and illegal discharges within 45 days of taking office.

Which, as most people in the Continental United States are now aware, was merely a ploy to limit the damages Duke Energy would have to pay from a lawsuit that was already in progress. And it also answers the question of why Duke Energy would spend so much money (over 1.1 million) to get one man elected. Sarcasm and whining might feel good, John, but it rarely (if ever) solves your problems.

Skvarla hires former Duke attorney

We believe that North Carolina has thousands of lawyers. In fact, North Carolina has our own lawyer on retainer -- he's the attorney general; his name is Roy Cooper.

Which, of course, means that Deputy Assistant Guvnor Pat has to hire his own lawyers for just about everything, because Roy wants to move into Pat's house.

So when the feds came calling with subpoenas, Pat & his McCrony John Skvarla hired a lawyer.

But this lawyer used to represent Duke Energy, the subject of all the subpoenas in the first place.

The lawyer hired to represent North Carolina's environmental agency during a federal investigation into its regulation of Duke Energy's coal ash dumps once represented the utility company in a different criminal probe.

Thousands of lawyers, and Skvarla chose Mark Calloway, who represented Duke in the past.

Add the Broad River to Duke Energy's polluted list

Once again, the riverkeepers, not DENR, inform the public.

The French Broad Riverkeeper detected high levels of arsenic in a water sample of wastewater leaking from the Cliffside Steam Station operated by Duke Energy on the Broad River.

Riverkeeper Hartwell Carson tested the water in a variety of locations along the Cliffside property at the Broad River on March 10. This week he reported arsenic at “25 times” the EPA drinking water standard in one seep just downstream from the spillway and near a retired coal ash pond which has dried out.

Trickle or gush?

Fracking, DENR and the pits

In an editorial published in the Raleigh News & Observer, Charles Ritter warns that DENR's lack of oversight could have consequences even worse than the coal ash disaster once the frackers get their turn to destroy our environment.

Fracking pits are even more dangerous than coal ash pits because:

  • Fracking fluid is more liquid than coal ash slurry and flows more easily downhill into reservoirs like Jordan Lake and the rivers that feed it.
  • The toxins and carcinogens in fracking fluid will not be disclosed per draft DENR rules, making it more difficult for emergency medical personnel to immediately treat those who are exposed.
  • The number of fracking pits in N.C. near each fracking well could easily be hundreds of times the number of coal ash pits.

Duke Energy caught in lie

61 million gallons more.

That's how much Duke Energy illegally pumped into the Cape Fear River.

Duke Energy’s temporary pumping of two coal ash ponds in Chatham County, which was discovered last week by regulators and environmentalists, illegally put 61 million gallons of wastewater into a tributary of the Cape Fear River.

This wasn't a spill, or an accident, or a failed mechanical system. This was deliberate pumping of waste into the river.

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