* NC Sierra Club Footnotes Online – July 2013

North Carolina Chapter Sierra Club

Dear Friends,

According to several reputable sources, the key to finishing a marathon is staying focused and positive. We mention that because this year’s legislative session has been long and arduous, much like a marathon.

But the end is near, and thanks to you, we’ve been able to hold the ground on many key environmental issues. But we are not over the finish line yet. In this issue of Footnotes, you will find a couple of key actions you can take, a review of our solar campaign, and some emerging developments about the proposed Titan Cement plant near Wilmington.

Thanks for all that you do,

Your staff at the NC Sierra Club

Legislative Matters That Matter

Remember a second ago when we mentioned that you have been key in helping hold the line on many environmental issues? We were talking about how you helped keep the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard in place. And the Solar tax credit. The Dorothea Dix property is still on track to become a fabulous destination park for all North Carolinians. And the current energy efficiency requirements for commercial buildings are still intact. Yeah. You helped with all of that.

But now we need you to help with the issues that we know are going to come up in the last two weeks of session. Other issues might come up, too. That usually happens. But here are three issues that we know we are going to need you to take action on.

Jordan Lake

Some lawmakers want to further delay by another three years the safeguards put in place to protect this important drinking water resource. Not only that, last week in a House committee where S 515 was being discussed, Sen. Gunn recommended siphoning money away from the Clean Water Management Trust Fund for a pilot project that would call upon a water agitator to magically clean up the lake.

So it should be no surprise that the News & Observer Editorial Board called the plan “an idea that combines Jules Verne and Rube Goldberg.” But we think keeping the protections that we already have in place is a much better plan. Click on our tribute to Goldberg to take action and tell your legislators not to delay the Jordan Lake Rules any longer!

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Pollution Boundaries

Currently, coal-fired power plants and other big time polluters have to make sure that they monitor groundwater pollution from their operations, and that the contamination is contained within a 500 foot limit.

But when the NC Senate made their changes to H 94, they loosened those protections in the law to allow the pollution to go all the way to the property line. That means polluters wouldn’t have to do anything about their groundwater contamination until it’s about to contaminate a neighbor’s private property — which is too late.

For coal-fired power plants and industrial facilities that own property on both sides of a river or lake, this effectively gives them the right to pollute the groundwater. This same water could end up part of your drinking water, making it even more important that we hold polluters accountable.

Click here to tell your legislators to oppose relaxing the pollution boundaries as H 94 would do!

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Fracking Disclosure

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Some people support fracking in North Carolina. Some people don’t. Regardless of where you sit on the overall issue, most North Carolinians agree that if we are going to pump chemicals deep underground, that the public has a right to know what those chemicals are.

A recent poll from Public Policy Polling found that 76% of voters think that companies engaged in fracking in North Carolina should have to disclose all the chemicals they inject into the ground.

H 94, the same bill that move the pollution boundaries has a provision that would allow companies to keep the chemicals they use in North Carolina a secret.

The NC Conservation Network has a great action alert about this. Click here to check it out and to tell your legislators that the people of North Carolina deserve to know what chemicals could end up in their water! Take action now.

Sorry about having to bring up these distressing legislative issues. We wouldn’t do it if they weren’t important. But they’re still a bummer, right?

Need some cheering up? A little sunshine ought to do the trick.

The Sun is Shining

Pop quiz. What do you and one million North Carolinians have in common?

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The answer: You all helped celebrate Solar Month this June! That’s right, we reached over a million people in one way or another, and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive.

So what are the top things we learned about solar through this whole campaign?

People really like solar energy.

North Carolinians want to bring more solar jobs to the state.

People want to know what they can do help boost solar in NC.

That last one might seem tricky, but it’s not. The key to making North Carolina First in Solar will be allowing something called third party sales in the state. What are third party sales?

Well, we could tell you that it’s where property owners who want access to clean and renewable solar electricity without significant upfront costs have the option of entering a contract with a solar energy provider. The solar energy provider installs and maintains solar panels on the customer’s property. In return, the customer commits to purchase electricity generated by solar cells from the solar energy company, rather than a big utility company.

Or you can head over to FirstInSolar.org and watch this great video we have explaining the process. And be sure to sign up for our Solar Citizens Team to get more involved!

Titan Revisited

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Do you think our coastal neighbors near Wilmington deserve more pollution or less pollution? That may seem like a silly question, but that’s the heart of the decision that the Division of Air Quality (DAQ) will have to soon make.

Before Titan Cement even breaks ground on their proposed plant, the company is already going back and asking DAQ to let them put more pollution into our air than they said they would the first time around. Tell the DAQ that this is a bad deal for our coastal neighbors.

That’s right. Titan Cement has asked the Division of Air Quality to allow it to put 64,000 additional pounds per year of particulate matter, toxic soot with significant health risks, into our air.

Titan Cement already agreed to lower limits of pollution in 2012 when it agreed to the terms of its air permit. Now, the company is taking advantage of a loophole that would allow them to go back to the state and ask to be allowed to pollute more!

Tell DAQ to say no to Titan’s request to put more pollution into our community!


Get Outdoors

This is a great time of year to get outdoors. So grab a pal and go kayaking. Or hiking. Or camping in one of the great state parks we have in North Carolina.

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