94 percent of Duke Energy coal ash still in Dan River (Danville Register & Bee) -- A Charlottesville-based environmental group has criticized Duke Energy following its clean-up of a 2,500-ton coal ash deposit at Schoolfield Dam, saying the company has not accounted for the remainder of its 39,000-ton coal ash spill into the Dan River. "Where are the other 37,000 tons?" said Kathleen Sullivan, senior communications manager for the Southern Environmental Law Center, in an email to the Danville Register & Bee last week. "They have not accounted for 94 percent of the coal-ash waste spilled into the Dan River. Duke has removed about 6 percent of the coal-ash waste it spilled and at just two places: at the spill site itself and the Danville dam. It is hard to believe that the coal ash hasn’t collected elsewhere in places in the river where it could be removed."
Duke Energy criticized over coal ash cleanup (Roanoke Times) -- An environmental group has criticized Duke Energy following its clean-up of a 2,500-ton coal ash deposit at Schoolfield Dam, saying the company has not accounted for the remainder of its 39,000-ton coal ash spill into the Dan River. “Where are the other 37,000 tons?” said Kathleen Sullivan, senior communications manager for the Southern Environmental Law Center, in an email to the Danville Register & Bee last week. “They have not accounted for 94 percent of the coal-ash waste spilled into the Dan River. Duke has removed about 6 percent of the coal-ash waste it spilled and at just two places: at the spill site itself and the Danville dam. It is hard to believe that the coal ash hasn’t collected elsewhere in places in the river where it could be removed.”
Putting coal ash at the airport still on the table (Charlotte Observer) -- Charlotte city officials and Duke Energy are still trying to figure out where to put millions of tons of coal ash sitting on the banks of Mountain Island Lake as they consider sites at Charlotte Douglas International Airport other than under runways.
Charlotte, Duke, consider airport coal ash plan (AP) — Charlotte officials and Duke Energy are still considering Charlotte Douglas International Airport as a site for millions of tons of coal ash now at Mountain Island Lake.
Tighten Chesapeake coal waste regulations (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot editorial) -- Everyone agrees on the goal: The million tons of coal ash produced by Dominion Virginia Power's Chesapeake Energy Center must be kept out of the Elizabeth River. The issue has gained additional resonance because of Duke Energy's massive spill in February in North Carolina. A drainage pipe collapsed, spilling 39,000 tons of coal ash and 27,000 gallons of contaminated water into the Dan River, upstream from Lake Gaston, which supplies water to most of Hampton Roads. That followed the ongoing controversy over the 1.5 million tons of Dominion fly ash used to build Battlefield Golf Club in Chesapeake more than a decade ago. Five years after elevated levels of toxins were discovered in nearby wells, lawsuits remain unresolved. Dominion - citing new environmental regulations on coal plants - intends to close its 61-year-old facility on the Elizabeth River by the end of the year.
N.C. House appoints members to negotiate coal ash deal (Greensboro News & Record) -- The N.C. House leadership appointed four representatives today to negotiate a compromise on coal ash.
Long-dead Pillowtex reborn as unlikely issue in U.S. Senate race in Georgia (Charlotte Observer) -- One of the last CEOs of the doomed company in Kannapolis, David Perdue, is in a runoff to be the GOP candidate for US Senate.
N.C. House Speaker Tillis abandons Raleigh in quest for campaign funds in DC (AP) — The ongoing General Assembly session is putting a crimp into House Speaker Thom Tillis' campaign for the U.S. Senate, but he's still mingling with donors backing his campaign.
Supreme Court candidate says he “will not tolerate untruths” about opponent in campaign (Carolina Mercury) -- In the aftermath of a vicious NC Supreme Court primary race during which the conservative super PAC Justice for All NC ran attack ads accusing sitting justice Robin Hudson of being a friend to child molesters, one state Supreme Court candidate appears to be taking the higher ground. [Robert Hunter and Sam Ervin IV] been colleagues for nearly six years, hearing many cases together. Hunter refers in the remarks, made to the North Carolina Bar Association, to Ervin as “my good friend.” When he ran for the high court in 2012, Ervin was hit by negative ads financed by an independent political organization. Similar attack ads were run by the same group against Justice Robin Hudson in her primary campaign this spring. Ervin said he expects more of the same this fall. I fear he’s right. In his turn at the podium, Hunter — a Greensboro native who practiced law for many years here — made a remarkable statement. While defending our system of electing judges and the freedom of speech that comes with campaigns, he said this: “I will not tolerate any untruths about Jimmy Ervin in this campaign.”
Former appeals court judge runs again (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Former NC appeals court Judge John Arrowood of Charlotte is running to return to the bench, following the recent announcement by Chief Judge John Martin that he will retire. Additionally, there are reports that Sabra Jean Faires also will be running for the seat.
SHORT SESSION, DAY 70, Overtime 22, $1.1 million
Tillis says budget impasse could derail teacher raises (Fayetteville Observer) -- The ongoing budget impasse at the N.C. General Assembly could leave North Carolina school teachers with no raise this year, state House Speaker Thom Tillis told a political newsletter in an interview published Monday. House and Senate leaders say they want to give teachers their first significant raises since the Great Recession, but have argued all month over the size of the raises and how to pay for them.
Funds for teacher assistants in doubt (Wilmington Star-News) -- For teacher assistants, the return to the classroom could be cut short.
North Carolina Might Block Counties Looking to Boost Teacher Pay (Govt. Executive) -- Local control remains a contentious issue in the Tar Heel State.
NC to decide on new health insurance option for some state workers (Raleigh News & Observer) -- At issue in North Carolina budget negotiations is how to provide federally mandated health insurance to thousands of state and university employees who are classified as "nonpermanent" but work at least 30 hours a week.
NC sales tax limit for counties reviewed by Senate (AP) — Senate Republicans have retooled a proposal limiting local sales taxes in North Carolina but could still stop two large counties from putting referenda on the ballot this fall.
Senate eases local sales tax restrictions (WRAL-TV) -- Senate leaders Monday rolled out a new version of a bill restricting how counties can use local sales taxes. The new version also includes a provision to legalize crowd-funding for businesses in N.C.
McCrory urges health officials to fight Senate Medicaid plan (Greensboro News & Record) -- Gov. Pat McCrory urged local health officials Monday to oppose the Senate’s proposal to overhaul Medicaid. McCrory said he wants to make that argument directly to the rank-and-file members of the Senate as well. McCrory, his Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos and state Medicaid Director Robin Cummings met Monday afternoon with members of the Triad HealthCare Network at Moses Cone. The group is an “accountable care organization,” a physician-led network like the kind McCrory hopes will manage the Medicaid system in the future. The N.C. House earlier this month unanimously approved a bill that calls for that transition.
McCrory makes pitch for Medicaid reform proposal in visit to Cone Health Monday (Triad Business Journal) -- Facing Senate opposition to his Medicaid reform plan, Gov. Pat McCrory came to Greensboro Monday to make his case and drum up support as the legislative session winds down.
Gov. McCrory Attends Medicaid Roundtable in Greensboro (TWCN-TV) -- Gov. McCrory was in Greensboro Monday to meet with medical leaders at Moses Cone Hospital for a roundtable conversation about Medicaid.
NC pension changes near final legislative approval (AP) — The General Assembly is one vote away from finalizing changes to North Carolina's government retirement system in part to prevent the system from having to pay for some large pension spikes for high-income workers.
Wake GOP warms up to transit as NC Senate Republicans chill (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Wake commissioners will hire a consultant to update a 2011 county plan for rail transit and more buses - possibly in time for voters to decide in October 2015 whether to adopt a half-cent sales tax to pay for transit investments.
Cohen Applauded (the insider) -- Longtime General Assembly employee Gerry Cohen received a standing ovation from lobbyists, legislators and others gathered for the Senate Finance Committee meeting Monday.
POLICY & POLITICS
AN APPOINTMENT, A CONTROVERSY: McCrory judicial pick once reprimanded by NC Bar (AP) -- A new District Court judge appointed by Gov. Pat McCrory on Monday was reprimanded for professional misconduct more than a decade ago by the North Carolina State Bar. Michael A. Stone of Raeford was appointed to a state judicial seat in Hoke County. McCrory spokesman Rick Martinez says the governor knew about Stone's reprimand before naming him as a judge, but didn't think one past mistake should disqualify him from consideration. "When you make an appointment you look at the totality of a person, not just one particular incident," Martinez said. "The bottom line on the whole thing is that this occurred shortly after he got out of law school and he basically got in over his head. He learned a valuable lesson from it and his record since that time demonstrates that." Asked what accomplishments distinguished Stone in the field, Martinez said he didn't know.
McCrory Appoints Two District Court Judges (Voter Update Magazine) -- The office of Gov. Pat McCrory on Monday named judges to district courts covering Wake, Hoke and Scotland counties.
More NC children living in poverty (WRAL-TV) -- Despite making significant gains in health and education in the last eight years, North Carolina ranks 34th nationally in overall child well-being, according to a report released Tuesday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
North Carolina's Job Recovery Remains Sluggish (Chapelboro.Com) -- North Carolina’s unemployment numbers for June were released last Friday, and the rate remained at 6.4 percent – the same as the month before. Jobs are being added, according to economists. So why are the numbers flat? “Now we’re seeing the flip side of what we observed before,” said Professor of Economics at UNC-Chapel-Hill Patrick Conway. “More jobs are being created, but the unemployment rate is staying the same, or maybe even going up in the past couple of months. And that’s because people who dropped out of the labor force because they couldn’t find a job and they got discouraged saw the increase in the number of hires and now they’ve come back.”
Cumberland hunts for teachers as school approaches (WRAL-TV) -- In about a month, traditional calendar students will jam the hallways of Cumberland County schools. Whether there will be enough teachers there to greet them remains a question.
Educators pan repeal of Common Core standards (Rocky Mount Telegram) -- A set of curriculum standards that have been in place for the past two years in North Carolina Public Schools just got the boot from state legislators.
Judge: FDA can't use tobacco panel menthol report (AP) — The Food and Drug Administration can't use an advisory panel's 2011 report on menthol cigarettes because its members had conflicts of interest, a federal judge ruled Monday.
Prosecutor: hearing in UNC agents case on hold (AP) — This week's scheduled hearing for five people charged with violating North Carolina's sports agent law by providing benefits to former Tar Heels football players has been postponed.
NC commissioner: Some homeowner insurance rates 'very much a problem' (WRAL-TV) -- Most people think they already pay too much for homeowner's insurance, but what if the bill suddenly jumped 33 percent or even 70 percent? Many people are getting letters saying if they don't agree to it, their coverage will be canceled.
Member of McCrory’s security team to speak at neighborhood safety session (Salisbury Post) -- Organizers of a Wednesday community meeting hope it will spawn others to affect change in their own neighborhoods. The meeting, which will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. at Miller Recreation Center, is hosted by West End Community Organization, West End Pride Organization and The Chamber. Chamber member, Ken Hardin has become one of the most vocal about crime in the West End, but said this meeting is not just for West End residents but for anyone in Salisbury who is concerned with their neighborhood. Speakers include Master Trooper Clee Atkinson Jr. Atkinson who will talk about recognizing gang activity. Atkinson currently serves on the Executive Security Team for Gov. Pat McCrory. He has provided hours of education at conferences and workshops on gang and terrorism awareness, homeland security and suicide bombing. In 2012, Atkinson served as the SBI field liaison officer on gangs and terrorism.
Chancellor panel narrows focus to 5 (Elizabeth City Daily Advance) -- The panel searching for Elizabeth City State University’s next chancellor has narrowed its focus to five candidates, and is expected to trim that number to three in the coming weeks, a University of North Carolina official said.
Bowles, Campaign to Fix the Debt Co-Founder, to Deliver Keynote (Business Wire)--The Small Business Investor Alliance (SBIA), the leading association for lower middle market private equity funds and investors, today announced that Erskine Bowles will be delivering the keynote address at its annual National Summit for Middle Market Funds conference, taking place on October 19-21, 2014 at The Breakers in Palm Beach.
Leaders worry voices were silenced (Wilson Times) -- Some Wilson County commissioners are concerned that residents didn’t get to speak or give suggestions to Wilson County Board of Elections members prior to a key vote
Human rights abuses occurred in Triangle terrorism case (WRAL-TV) -- A Triangle terrorism case was cited as an example of "abusive counterterrorism sting operations" in a study claiming human rights abuses in such investigations.
Berger to appear in hearing today on probation violations (Port City Daily) -- Jailed commissioner Brian Berger was scheduled to be appear in New Hanover County District Court this morning for a hearing on charges of probation violations
Grant-funded houses remain unfinished (Washington Daily News) -- Three state of North Carolina grant-funded houses on Keysville Road in Washington have not been completed by the deadline.
Belhaven mayor continues walk to nation’s capitol (Washington Daily News) — Belhaven Mayor Adam O’Neal reached the Virginia line this weekend as he continues his 273-mile trek to Washington, D.C.
NC judge won't seal records in hazing lawsuit (AP) -- A judge has refused to seal records in a lawsuit after the death of a student at High Point University two years ago.
Tech drives next big thing in farming (WRAL-TV) -- Farming continues to evolve, becoming even more high tech. The latest wave is called "precision agriculture," and it was the topic of the NC Ag Biotech Professional Forum at the NC Biotechnology Center, uses GPS guided, self-steering equipment, drones to monitor crops, precise, hyper-local weather reports, and the collection and analysis of data in real time for immediate action or strategic planning. WRAL TechWire Insider Allan Maurer has the exclusive details.
US pork producers' use of drug may derail European trade deal (Raleigh News & Observer) -- R.C. Hunt, who has raised pigs for 50 years in North Carolina, offers no apologies for a common practice in the US pork industry: mixing feed with a controversial drug that makes the animals grow leaner in the final weeks of their lives.
SHORTAGE FEARS! Raleigh shop owner says AK-47 sales surge after Russian sanctions (Triangle business Journal) -- Triangle gun shops are feeling the impact of recent U.S. sanctions against Russia in the form of increased inquiries about and sales of AK-47s.
Gluten-Free Doesn't Automatically Mean a Healthy Choice (Public News Service) -- "Gluten-free" products are taking up more and more shelf space in stores these days, reflective of consumer demand. And with the steady growth of the gluten-free industry, there are now several stores in North Carolina completely devoted to gluten-free foods.
GE makes $5M, 60-new job pledge for Mebane operations (Triangle Business Journal) -- GE is investing more than $5 million in 2014 at its Mebane manufacturing operations.
Facebook enters Wi-Fi space in Rutherford County Schools (WRAL-TV) -- The Town of Forest City, Rutherford County Schools, PANGAEA Internet, and Facebook are launching a pilot program to bring free Wi-Fi to local students.
Sprout moves forward with 'female Viagra' (Triangle Business Journal) -- After running into some regulatory hurdles, a Raleigh company developing what it hopes will become the “female Viagra” got its feet back underneath itself and is again pressing toward FDA approval with the help of investments of more than $4 million.
ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT
Report: Higher seas mean extreme floods in SC, NC (AP) — A new analysis of sea level rise concludes that billions of dollars in property and infrastructure is at risk in extreme floods expected along the coast of the Carolinas in coming years.
Report: National parks in N.C. support 15,483 jobs (Triad Business Journal) - Visitor trips to North Carolina's national parks have helped the economy tick, as visitors spent $1 billion in parks in the state and supported 15,483 jobs in last year, according to a new National Park Service report.
Whirlpool Wants Congress to Ban Class-Action Suits Tied to Energy Star Program (New York Times) -- The appliance manufacturer is threatening to pull out of the troubled labeling program unless Congress bans class-action lawsuits.
Rep. McIntyre Announces Carolina Beach Renourishment Project Extended (TWCN-TV) -- McIntyre has long been an advocate for coastal storm damage reduction projects and has secured hundreds of millions of dollars for coastal nourishment and inlet dredging during his time in Congress.
RTI wins $3M investment for biofuel research (WRAL-TV) -- Under a three-year award from the U.S. Department of Energy, researchers at RTI International are looking at the cost-competitive production of hydrocarbon transportation fuels for less than $3 per gallon.
Corralling Carbon Before It Belches From Stack (New York Times) -- Many scientists say capturing the carbon that spews from power plants and locking it away is necessary to stave off the worst effects of climate change.
Residents near Belews Lake voice concerns about water quality (WGHP-TV) -- Neighbors of the Duke Energy Belews Creek Steam Station have health concerns for their water quality, according to a report by WGHP.
State deploys water mixers in Jordan Lake (WRAL-TV) -- State officials began deploying solar-powered water circulators in Jordan Lake on Monday in the latest attempt to battle pollution in the lake.
Tropical depression forms in central Atlantic (AP) — Forecasters say a tropical depression has formed over the Atlantic, though it remains far out to sea and is not expected to threaten land.
GE Hitachi takes partner to advance PRISM technology (Wilmington Star-News) -- GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy has taken on a European partner to advance its PRISM technology
Duke Energy cleaning up on South Herritage (Kinston Free Press) -- Land held a manufactured gas plant
Batts family claims national tree farming title (Wilson Times) -- Judy and Dwight Batts of Macclesfield have been named 2014 National Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year by the American Tree Farm System, a program of the American Forest Foundation.
Remembering the 'Library Lady' (Coastal Review) -- Sarah Hamilton is remembered for her environmental activism, volunteerism and dedication to the N.C. Coastal Federation, but most of all for her love of books
McCrory low-rates the poet laureate position (Raleigh News & Observer column) -- There once was a gubna name Pat/ Who spoke often of a “stupid hat”/ He appointed a poet/ To serve as our laureate/ But the appointment landed with a SPLAT! Sorry. I promise not to try poetry again. Let’s get one thing straight, though. Valerie Macon did nothing wrong, nothing to warrant the unflattering attention her recent appointment to be the state’s poet laureate shone on her. That attention proved to be too much for her, and Macon resigned the post two days later. The fault, dear reader, lay not in her acceptance of the position, but in the governor’s offering it. So intent seems Gov. Pat McCrory to show that he cares not a whit what others think, that he is in charge – despite the recalcitrance of a legislature that at times accords him the respect one accords a past-due postage stamp – that he has subjected this woman to undeserved disparagement.
Art Pope is very powerful. His boss? Welllll.... (Charlotte Observer) -- If you're a close follower of North Carolina politics, a weekend Washington Post profile of state...
Widespread teacher-assistant cuts would hurt education system (Winston-Salem Journal) -- We continue to push for teacher pay raises on this page. Those raises are needed – and so is retaining the teacher-assistant work force that enables teachers to do their jobs.
High standards and Common Core’s end (Charlotte Observer) -- The nationwide Common Core initiative seems at risk of death by a thousand cuts. In 2010, 45 states and the District of Columbia had signed on to developing common, baseline high standards for reading and math. Now, largely for political reasons, lawmakers in 27 states have proposed rolling back Common Core standards. Three – South Carolina, Oklahoma and Indiana – have already repealed Common Core.
Go slow on NC school vouchers (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Against common sense, the agency overseeing North Carolina's new voucher program plans to give public money toward private school tuition before all legal issues surrounding the program are settled.
Tweak details, but keep film incentives (Rocky Mount Telegram) -- North Carolina’s incentives arrangement with major motion picture studios and television networks certainly needs some tweaking.
More than a week later, public deserves answers on Hewett's death (Wilmington Star-News) -- It's been more than a week since former Brunswick County Sheriff Ron Hewett died in the New Hanover County jail
Youthful folly, crime and the need for justice (Charlotte Observer column) -- Strong families play a pivotal role in society. They hold us accountable, support us in hard times and ensure that future generations are equipped to achieve more than their parents. Unfortunately in at least one respect North Carolina’s criminal justice system inadvertently undermines the family and the youth that are its charge.
Energy needn't be a source of pollution (Fayetteville Observer) -- Who wants a fuel-prospecting operation or power plant in the neighborhood?
High standards and Common Core's end (Charlotte Observer) -- The nationwide Common Core initiative seems at risk of death by a thousand cuts. In 2010, 45 states and the District of Columbia had signed on to developing common, baseline high standards for reading and math. Now, largely for political reasons, lawmakers in 27 states have proposed rolling back Common Core standards. Three – South Carolina, Oklahoma and Indiana – have already repealed Common Core. The “common” in Common Core is evaporating. With that goes the ability of states to compare student performance based on state assessments. That’s a big loss. Unwisely, North Carolina joined the repeal movement last week when the legislature passed a bill requiring a comprehensive review and rewrite of standards. The bill keeps in place Common Core until the revised standards are in place
Beseeching Israel: No more killings in my name (Raleigh News & Observer column) -- As I cared for the daughters of my nephew, Israeli rockets killed four young children on the beach in Gaza. As my heart filled with a kind of love I have only known reflected in the laughter of my great-nieces, mothers and aunts and great aunts were grieving a loss I cannot begin to imagine