I received this letter today from SELC, an organization I have long supported. The letter is a good summary of North Carolina Republicans' ostrich mentality when it comes to construction on our sinking shores. There's much at risk, and the GOP is doing absolutely nothing but wishful thinking.
Dear SELC Friend,
For many years SELC has been working on all fronts to forestall and combat the effects of global warming and climate change. Our clean air and energy team spends every day striving to limit the greenhouse gases so dramatically changing our planet. And our coastal team covers hundreds of shoreline miles to make sure we deal with the impacts of rising seas swiftly and intelligently.
Nowhere in our region is the problem felt more acutely than on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, and I wanted to share some recent developments there as well as some background information to put it all in perspective.
A press release, via Carolina Mercury on Facebook. Very glad to see the Southern Environmental Law Center taking it to the McCrory administration for their criminal negligence involving coal ash.
Clean Water Act Violations from Coal Ash Noticed on Three North Carolina Rivers
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The Southern Environmental Law Center today gave notice to Duke Energy and the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources that it plans to enforce the federal Clean Water Act to clean up coal ash pits on the Cape Fear, Neuse, and Yadkin Rivers. The notices were filed on behalf of Cape Fear River Watch, Neuse Riverkeeper Foundation, Yadkin Riverkeeper, and Waterkeeper Alliance. The notices address coal ash pollution and dam safety issues at Duke Energy’s Cape Fear plant (Cape Fear River), Lee plant (Neuse River), and Buck plant (Yadkin River).
With a governor, Pat McCrory, who was employed by Duke for 28 years, and a Legislature rife with members who have accepted contributions from Duke and other energy companies throughout their careers, it’s no surprise that our state government has shown little interest in forcing Duke to clean up the mess it has made of our state.
In fact, even as North Carolina faces the worst threat to its waterways in a generation, state politicians have started a process to eliminate dozens of environmental protections that have kept our water safe and clean for decades.
The negligence and outright intentional destruction of public health safeguards is staggering, and they continue to probe for other damage they might cause in their anti-regulatory fervor. But it isn't just ignorance driving their behavior, ALEC and the Koch Brothers are determined to make North Carolina their model of irresponsibility:
If people in the McCrory administration had as much integrity as they do chutzpah, we'd be home free. But sad to say, it ain't so. Case in point? John Skvarla's comments about his oh-so-close partnering relationships with environmental organizations who are working to clean up all the messes made by Duke Energy.
John Skvarla, the secretary of the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources, said Wednesday that the Southern Environmental Law Center is a “partner” in DENR’s lawsuits aimed at protecting water against pollution documented at power plant sites owned by Duke Energy.
“We consider the citizens group to be on our side of the table,” Skvarla said during a news conference. Court transcripts paint a different picture.
Let's be clear that this bridge failure is a very serious matter, and it's a very serious issue for residents and visitors of NC's Outer Banks.
Yet the NC GOP response to the discovery that the bridge is unsafe for travel is curious. They blamed the SELC, who has a long-running lawsuit against the state regarding a planned replacement bridge. They blamed the SELC loudly, immediately, and in perfect harmony with one another. Transportation Secretary Tony Tata took the lead, showing his Fox News commentator skills:
In the midst of such a serious challenge, however, we find it disingenuous and irresponsible that you have chosen to aggressively, publicly, and inaccurately blame environmental organizations for this bridge closure. As a result of your urging, we have been at the receiving end of multiple threats based on misinformation you have provided. Rather than continue with these irresponsible public attacks, we encourage you to provide the leadership required to resolve the closure as quickly as possible and to focus on developing a long term solution to replace Bonner Bridge that ensures safe and dependable transportation to Hatteras Island.
Make no mistake, the Republicans are wetting their pants at the prospect of endangering the safety of the attorneys working for the Southern Environmental Law Center. The group has been a thorn in the side of irresponsible developers and polluting industries, and the GOP would love nothing better than to sweep this organization out of the way. And the bridge is only part of this story. A comment I posted on Facebook:
Along with an alliance of conservation groups, SELC helped defend the last, best hope for restoring the ailing Chesapeake Bay when a federal judge upheld the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s water quality restoration plan.
Thank goodness for the courts. And for organizations like the ACLU and SELC. Last, best hopes for sure.
The release notes the permit also changes the facility’s limits for particulate emissions “in light of recent changes in methods that the EPA allows cement plant operators to use in calculating their emissions.”
“The plant would not actually be changing its emissions controls,” the release states, “but the EPA changed the averaging time for calculating emissions, which results in a higher limit for annual emissions. Under the permit, Titan’s emissions limits are increased by 22 tons/year for fine particles (PM 2.5) and by 10 tons/year for coarse particles (PM 10).”
What a crock. If no changes in emissions controls are being made, Titan should be emitting the same amount of particulate matter as vouched for in the previous permit. The frequency of testing or sampling averages should make no difference. Unless they were lying in their original permit application, that is, something that many have suspected all along.
Submitted by scharrison on Thu, 06/20/2013 - 11:52am
And Jesus said unto his flock, "Yeah, we were going to have some fish too, but there's something wrong with them."
The Southern Environmental Law Center filed the notice, which is required under the Clean Water Act, on behalf of Cape Fear River Watch, the Waterkeeper Alliance and the Sierra Club. They say the lake is contaminated by selenium, an ash element that can cause reproductive problems in fish and wildlife. Contaminated groundwater, they claim, threatens the water supply of a low-income community.
The fact that SELC has to bring legal action to mitigate this is a shame, especially since Duke Energy has known about the negative impact of selenium for decades:
Submitted by scharrison on Sat, 05/25/2013 - 10:29am
When it comes to clean water, there's no such thing as a safe short cut:
In March, the N.C. Division of Water Quality (DWQ) filed a lawsuit over coal ash pollution seeping from ponds at a power plant in Asheville, N.C. owned by Duke Energy's Progress subsidiary. This week, DWQ amended that suit to address similar issues at Duke Energy's Riverbend plant on Mountain Island Lake, which provides drinking water for over 750,000 people in the Charlotte area.
While it might be a truism to say, "We shouldn't be worrying about coal waste because we shouldn't be burning coal anymore", the fact is, we are, and will continue to do so to some degree for many years to come. That being said, coal proponents love to talk about how cheap it is to burn coal. But you know what? Costs are accrued during the whole cycle, and that includes disposal of the toxic wastes. Skimping on that not only creates a false cost formula, it can change the chemical formula of our water, too:
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