NC DENR

Coal Ash Wednesday: "But the bugs are doing just fine!"

The biological trump rule in action:

Aquatic insect communities in an area downstream from the Feb. 2 coal ash spill appear to be thriving, according to the results of testing conducted by state environmental officials.

Using a standard sampling protocol, state scientists collected samples of benthic macroinvertebrate at two locations – one upstream and one downstream of the site of Dan River spill. During the sampling, scientists collect insects and other invertebrates from the river using nets and then record the number and species present in their samples before returning the insects to the river. Scientists can determine much about the health of the river based on the number and type of living species they collect. The populations from the upstream and downstream sites were similar and were considered “Excellent,” which is the highest biological rating available.

This is good news, for one location out of a 70 mile stretch of river, that is. Some of that spilled coal ash is now buried under a few feet of silt, but some of it isn't. I won't go as far as to imply DENR testers located a healthy spot and tested that one, although that wouldn't surprise me. But one sample out of seventy miles doesn't a clean river make. Admittedly, I'm a little out of my depth here, but these folks aren't:

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:

Skvarla losing the Op-Ed battle over DENR-approved pollution

It's better to let someone think you're an idiot than clicking the "send" button and proving it:

The recent attack on The Fayetteville Observer's journalistic integrity by the secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources was unfounded. In a letter to the editor ("Coal-ash pond editorial challenged," Oct. 14), Secretary John Skvarla attempted to defend his agency's decision to allow pumping of contaminated water into North Carolina's rivers and lakes from Duke Energy's coal ash sites across the state without permits, controls and limits - or public disclosure and input.

Under Secretary Skvarla's leadership, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources touts customer service, and its actions indicate those customers served are the polluters, not the public. DENR and its secretary should instead direct their energies toward protecting our waters for the people and families of North Carolina.

Every time Skvarla tries to sell the public on the idea that he knows what he's doing, he just demonstrates more convincingly that he doesn't. I was going to say, "It's like struggling in quicksand." But it's more like seeing a patch of quicksand and just hopping in. Painfully stupid.

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