ncsierraclub's blog

Duke and Progress Energy refuse to move on solar

Utility companies Duke and Progress Energy have mounted stiff opposition to state legislation that would increase their state mandate to provide more solar energy. Specifically, their current solar mandate for 2018 is a meager 0.2% of their entire energy portfolio (a benchmark Duke Energy has already admitted to having met) , and many have called for increasing the goal to 0.4%.

On this point, Duke and Progress have been obstinate: they will not commit to doubling their investment in solar power, despite evidence from the NC Sustainable Energy Association predicting that the 1,350 jobs created in the solar industry last year could increase to about 8,350.

With SB 181, the NCGA continues its relentless attack on the environment

This legislative session of the North Carolina General Assembly has mounted a frontal assault on our state’s environment and the ability of our regulatory agencies to preserve our clean air, water, and land. Now, state lawmakers have added Senate Bill 181 to the list of destructive, counterproductive proposals that our state’s precious natural resources have to face.

More Leaking Storage Tanks

Yesterday the legislature moved forward SB 181. This legislation shifts the cost of cleaning up toxic spills from leaking storage tanks from the responsible party to the public (gas taxes).

Currently, clean-ups are funded by tank fees paid by underground tank owners and public gas taxes. SB 181 would allow above ground tanks to be eligible for the funds. Currently, those operators have to pay for their own clean-up. It also, does not require above ground tank operators to pay into the fund.

By expanding the universe of tank owners who could tap into the fund without requiring all sources to pay into the fund, there would be even less money available to clean up groundwater contamination. While the bill does not explicitly shift the costs to the motoring public through the gas tax, it's hard to see where else the clean-up funds would come from.

We're on Top of Coal Ash

On Monday, EPA published its proposed coal ash regulations in the Federal Register. If you happen to be going to the beach this weekend here is the link to this light summer reading. Of course you can also check out a brief summary at earthjustice.

For North Carolina and our 17 coal ash sites, it's imperative that the EPA regulate coal ash as a 'special waste'. This stronger regulation will close wet ponds within 5 years, mandate groundwater monitoring and most importantly allow for federal oversight and enforcement. The other weaker option, would only suggest recommendations that would not be enforceable by EPA.

Horseshoe Farm Park will be eco-friendly

In 2007 a coalition of local citizen activists including the Capital Group Sierra Club, the N.C. Wildlife Federation and the Wake Audubon Society won a battle to develop Horseshoe Farm park as passive recreational area instead of an intensive use park. Now, the city has taken it a step further and has decided that the 146 acre park sitting on an oxbow of the Neuse River will be built using innovative, environmental friendly designs and construction methods.

House works to remove liability cap for hazardous spills off our coast

Today, the House Environment and Natural Resources Committee took the first steps to remove a cap that limits the financial liability of corporations responsible for oil or hazardous waste spills off our coast. Currently North Carolina follows the federal cap which is placed at the cost of clean up, plus 75 million. The main provision of Senate Bill 836 completely removes the State's tie to the federal liability cap.

Over the last few weeks there has been a lot of debate at the national level on whether or not the cap should be raised to 10 billion. Although the US Senate has not yet acted, its great to see the General Assembly moving quickly to insure North Carolina is capable of handling a potential spill.

Duke Energy reviewing position on mountaintop removal

Duke Energy is reviewing their position on the mining process of mountaintop removal. An article published June 7, 2010 provides a ray of hope for those concerned about the impacts of this practice. Considering the harm mountaintop removal can cause to the mountain, nearby valleys and streams, and local communities, it is encouraging to see Duke Energy reviewing their position on such a practice. This is a positive step towards protecting the mountains and valleys in North Carolina and beyond.

Policy Brief: Water Resources

Senate Bill 907/ House Bill 1101: Water Resource Policy Act of 2009
Senate Bill 1170/ House Bill 1763: Improve River Basin Modeling

With North Carolina’s population expected to grow to 12 million by 2030, preventative measures against water shortages are necessary. Two droughts, from 1998-2002 and from 2005-2008, strained the State’s water supply and promoted the Water Resource Policy Act of 2009.

This Act, Senate Bill 907/House Bill 1101, would provide a new system of water regulations that would require permits for big users and create supply budgets for the communities in the 17 river basins throughout the state. Though supported by the environmental community, including NC Sierra Club, the bill has stalled in committee and will not see movement during the 2010 short legislative session.


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