NCGA

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.

Academic standards for NC schools

Today, I sat in on a meeting of the Academic Standards Review Commission, the group that has until December, 2015, to come up with education standards so incredibly high they will put the Common Core to shame. The meeting was held in the Administration building in Raleigh and many of the Commission members had driven in from the far ends of the state. Finding information about the Commission meeting was somewhat difficult. I only found out about this meeting by sending an email to a reporter who wrote an article about their September meeting.

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:

Burlington Mayor details damage from state government meddling

Feeling the heat from the GOP's great tax shift:

In Burlington, where I am mayor, the repeal of the privilege-license tax will mean losing $564,612. The estimated proceeds from changes to sales-tax collections will not even cover 30 percent of those losses. Small towns like Calabash on the southeastern North Carolina coast will see losses that, as percentages of their budgets, will well exceed the multimillion-dollar losses in some of the state’s largest cities. To make up for the $141,488 loss in Calabash, the town would be forced to double its property tax rate, and earlier sales-tax changes will hardly make a dent in the deficit.

Haw River, Morrisville, Carolina Shores, Pineville, Siler City and Morganton are just a handful of other cities and towns that will experience significant losses.

I've already been in several Facebook brawls over this, as the Teabillies are gearing up to viciously fight against any property tax increase. The most frustrating issue in trying to discuss this with them is their inability to grasp the connection between this big-government move by the NCGA and local elected officials figuring out how to cope with it. The bottom line is, elections have consequences. If you elect arrogant power-mongers to state government, they are going to flex their muscles without a care to the problems it will create. In this case, the burden is shifted from businesses to homeowners, and blaming local government for that is simply idiotic.

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