NC GOP

Richard Burr prefers KGB-style intel operations

But don't expect the "defenders of liberty" to speak out against him:

Republicans take over the Senate in just a few legislative days. And when they do, they will probably snuff out the last possibility of releasing a huge report on the use of torture by the Central Intelligence Agency during the Bush-Cheney Administration.

Mr. Burr has said the report is full of unspecified inaccuracies. He not only opposes its release, but also all public hearings of the Intelligence Committee. He believes that “enhanced interrogation” (also known as torture) helped lead to the death of Osama Bin Laden, and is O.K. with widespread domestic spying by the National Security Agency. So don’t expect the slightest bit of openness or progress after he takes over.

Be careful what you say on your cell phones, comrades. I have a feeling becoming an "enemy of the state" is going to get a hell of a lot easier in the near future...

Art Pope shuffles his puppets around

Methinks a certain syndicated columnist may have demanded a raise:

Locke Foundation President John Hood will become president of the John William Pope Foundation in January. Hood will be succeeded by Executive Vice President Kory Swanson, who also will hold the title of CEO.

At the Pope Foundation, Hood succeeds former state budget director Art Pope, who will remain chairman of the charitable group. Hood also stays chairman of the Locke Foundation board of directors.

That almost reads like one of those math/logic problems, where the answer ends up being zero because things cancel each other out. Or maybe an upper-crust nursery rhyme? One of those two things.

Obama making GOP dance to his tune with immigration action

And they'll be stepping on each other's toes even after the music stops:

Some on the right pushed for using must-pass spending legislation to try to shut-down Obama's move. One lawmaker— two-term Republican Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama — raised the specter of impeachment. Party leaders warned against such talk and sought to avoid spending-bill tactics that could lead to a government shutdown. They said such moves could backfire, alienating Hispanic voters and others.

In a closed-door meeting with Senate Republicans, McConnell urged restraint. Still, there were concerns among some Republicans that the potential 2016 presidential candidates in the Senate would use the announcement to elevate their standing, challenging Obama directly.

Good luck on that whole "restraint" thing. Even if Republican leaders actually want their flock to behave like adults, which is not a foregone conclusion, the tantrums associated with this Executive Action will be legendary. I doubt we'll be lucky enough to see any Buddhist monk-styled immolation in the aisles of Congress, but there could be some tears of frustration. In actuality, it won't be a "groundbreaking" move by the President:

Coal Ash Wednesday: Sanford stuck between clay and a hard place

This is one battle they've already lost:

“In the early 90s, Waste Management tried to put a landfill out at the same site that was just purchased by Chara,” Crumpton continued. “Then there was an attempt in 2006 where D H Griffin was trying to site a construction and demolition debris landfill out in the Cumnock area.” Chara is the landfill management company Duke Energy contracted to supervise and operate the coal ash storage sites in Lee and Chatham counties.

The difference between past attempts at putting landfills in Lee County and Duke’s plan to transfer coal ash from Mount Holly and Wilmington to the 410-acre site off Post Office Road is that, pending approval from the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the plan to store coal ash in Lee County is a done deal.

Granted, taking advantage of an already-existing impermeable layer of clay for coal ash storage is smart, but communities should still be able to reject such projects if a majority of the citizens don't approve. Giving Duke Energy carte blanche to put that crap anywhere they want in the state is a recipe for disaster, because money (cost) will eventually be their only concern. That's how we got into this mess in the first place.

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:

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:

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:

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