Webinar: How To Testify at EPA Clean Power Plan Hearing

LEARN HOW TO TESTIFY! Want to learn more about how to give effective public comments on the Clean Power Plan?

Testify

Join us for a Webinar on July 24
Space is limited.
Reserve your Webinar seat now at:
https://www4.gotomeeting.com/register/540442391
The Chicago Organizing Team will lead a webinar on how to prepare persuasive testimony for the EPA Clean Power Plan hearings
Title: How To Testify at EPA Clean Power Plan Hearing
Date: Thursday, July 24, 2014
Time: 8:00 PM – 9:00 PM EDT
After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

NC Public Citizen’s Hearing on EPA Carbon Rules – July 22, Chapel Hill

On June 2, EPA announced the first ever regulations of carbon pollution on existing power plants. The Clean Power Plan, as it is called, has a chance to be the single largest step the U.S. has ever taken to combat climate change. EPA is holding public hearing in four cities – North Carolina’s closest hearing is in Atlanta – NC Interfaith Power & LightClean Air Carolina, Environment NCNC Wildlife Federation, and Sierra Club NC Chapter are collaboratively organizing a Citizen’s Hearing in Chapel Hill to gather testimony and public comments on the plan. Organizing groups will deliver these official public comments to EPA.

Think it’s time for the U.S. to acknowledge and address climate change, then come make your voice heard!

Date:  Tuesday, July 22nd – Chapel Hill, NC

Time:  5:30pm – 8:00pm  public testimony time slot sign-up upon arrival

Assembly Hall
5:30 – 8:00    Group Networking and Informational Tabling with snacks and beverages
6:00 – 7:00    Elected Officials and invited speakers will give testimony

Community Lounge
5:30 – 8:00    Public testimonies (2 min/person) recorded in groups of three

Location:
United Church of Chapel Hill
1321 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Chapel Hill, NC 27514
919-942-3540

Sierra Club NC Chapter Legislative Update 07-11-14

Protect Enviro DemocracyDear Friends,

This week the General Assembly did not move any environmental bills forward that we have been monitoring because House and Senate leaders were busy hashing out the budget in contentious private meetings. That said, the coal ash bill and other bills we are following could move quickly next week as the legislature races to end the short session.

Status of the Coal Ash Bill

The coal ash bill - S 729 “Coal Ash Management Act of 2014” – was on the Senate calendar several days in a row this week, but was finally moved to Monday’s calendar for a vote of concurrence. Senator Apodaca (R – Buncombe, Henderson, Transylvania), who is taking the lead on the coal ash bill in the Senate, has said that the Senate will vote not to concur on the bill because changes are needed. Specifically, he noted that he would like changes to:

1) the variance procedure added by the House that would allow the Secretary of DENR to grant an extension to deadlines in the bill;  and

2) the agency location and makeup of the Coal Ash Management Commission.

Procedurally, after the Senate votes to not concur – the coal ash bill will go to conference – which means that House and Senate leaders will appoint legislator conferees who will meet in private to iron out differences and come up with a final bill.

A major environmental concern remaining in regards to the coal ash bill is the lack of clear standards to ensure that all closure methods are protective of groundwater near coal ash sites. All 33 coal ash ponds at 14 coal plants in North Carolina are leaking toxic heavy metals into the groundwater.  Without clear guidelines, this bill could allow coal ash at 10 of these plant sites to stay in place, continuing to pollute our groundwater, lakes, and rivers.

Opportunity for Action:

Please contact Senator Apodaca, who will surely be on the coal ash bill conference committee, and ask him to add clear standards to the bill to ensure that any closure method allowed is protective of groundwater near coal ash sites.

What’s in the coal ash legislation that moves us forward? What is lacking?

Given the complexity of the coal ash bill – you may be interested in a broader picture of what the coal ash bill – S 729 – will do. Certain provisions in the House and Senate versions of the coal ash bill are not in contention and so will very likely be part of the final bill. These include the following provisions sought by the Sierra Club and its coalition partners:

  • Bring coal ash under the state’s current solid waste management laws:
    • The legislation makes wet coal ash subject to North Carolina’s fairly stringent construction, monitoring and siting standards for solid waste.
  • Address future management of wet ash:
    • The legislation requires wet coal ash disposal to be phased out entirely by the end of 2019. The coal ash bill will prohibit construction of new or the expansion of wet coal ash ponds beginning in August 2014. Then, by October 2014 no additional coal ash will be allowed to be disposed of in wet coal ash ponds at retired plants.
    • By the end of 2018 no stormwater may enter the coal ash ponds at retired plants and all active coal ash plants must convert to dry fly ash handling only. By the end of 2019, no stormwater may be discharged into coal ash ponds at active coal plants and active coal plants must convert to dry bottom ash handling only.
  • Set a timeline and fixed date to close out all 33 wet coal ash ponds
    • The legislation sets clear deadlines for closing out all 33 coal ash ponds. Four coal ash plant sites are identified for clean closure (excavation of ash and putting ash into lined storage. The remaining 10 sites would be categorized by the new Coal Ash Management Commission and put into either high, intermediate or low risk category based on a list of factors. High and intermediate categorization would require excavation of ash and putting ash into lined storage. Low risk sites would be allowed to be capped in place. [Note: Although groundwater monitoring and financial assurance would be required, the  closure standards for capping in place as currently in the bill do not adequately protect groundwater.]
  • Adequately regulate structural fill:
    • The legislation requires construction, siting and monitoring standards for large structural fill projects. Also, a one year moratorium on smaller structural fill projects is established while standards are studied by the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
  • Close the highest risk sites first:
    • Clean closure, with removal of coal ash, from the four sites listed in the legislation: Dan River – Eden, Riverbend – Charlotte, Sutton – Wilmington and Asheville.  [Note that these sites are all in litigation, and that Duke Energy has already publicly committed to cleaning them up.]
  • Removal of a loophole in 2013 legislation that allows Duke Energy to extend the compliance boundary by acquiring additional property, even if that property is on the other side of a drinking water supply lake.
  • More funding for DENR to regulate coal ash: though not part of the coal ash legislation, both chambers have included funding for 20+ new positions at DENR to implement the requirements in the coal ash bill.

What remains to be addressed or improved in the pending coal ash legislation?

  • Criteria for prioritizing wet coal ash ponds for closure that is tied to groundwater contamination.
  • Setting minimum standards, based on scientific data, for closure. Closure standards should allow alternatives to moving the ash from unlined ponds near water only if those alternatives are demonstrably as effective in protecting water supplies as removing the source of contamination.
  • Standards for using coal ash for structural fill for structural fill projects under 80,000 tons/project of 8,000 tons/acre.
  • A provision that appears to be an attempt to undermine a recent NC Superior Court decision by Judge Paul Ridgeway, that is currently under appeal. The Ridgeway court order requires Duke Energy to immediately remove the source of contamination from coal ash ponds that are polluting groundwater.
  • A politically appointed new commission with broad discretion and little accountability to work with DENR to implement the bill. The new commission can use cost as a reason to reject a proposed closure plan.
  • Open pit mines are included as an option within the definition of structural fill. Large structural fill projects including those in open pit mines (over 8,000 tons/acre or 80,000 tons/project) would have to comply with the standards for large structural fill projects in the bill (standards including liners, groundwater monitoring, etc…). Smaller structural fill (including open pit mine) projects would be subject to a 1 year moratorium during which DENR will study the issue. We do not know what, if any, standards will be developed for smaller structural fill projects including those that are open pit mines.
  • Variance provisions (in the House bill) would allow the Secretary of DENR to extend deadlines for closure of coal ash ponds. The Senate does not support this House change and so this may come out or change during conference.

Thank you for your volunteer lobbying efforts on this important issue!

Best,

Cassie Gavin, Director of Government Relations

Sierra Club – NC Chapter

cassie.gavin@sierraclub.org

These North Carolina Coal Ash Numbers Are a Powerful Call to Action

AP story

Thanks to Rob Schofield of NC Policy Watch for this excellent article! I’ve taken the liberty to add in some mimes developed by the NC Conservation Network team that help to illustrate the dangers behind these numbers. Please share…

Monday Coal Ash Numbers

156—number of days since a massive coal ash spill commenced at an abandoned Duke Energy power plant near Eden and contaminated the Dan River with toxic coal ash

Approximately 39,000—amount of coal ash (in tons) that spilled into the river (Duke Energy revised estimate – original estimate placed the figure between 50,000 and 82,000 tons)

24 million—amount of wastewater (in gallons) that also spilled into the river (Ibid. – original estimate was 27 million gallons)

13—number of coal ash dams in North Carolina that have been determined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to pose a “high” (seven) or “significant” (six) hazard if they were to fail (www.southeastcoalash.org) – Failure of intermediate hazard dams is likely to result is significant property and environmental damage; failure of high hazard dams is likely result in loss of life as well

33—number of unlined coal ash pits that Duke Energy has at 14 sites throughout North Carolina (Associated Press: “NC House approves Duke coal ash cleanup bill” – July 3, 2014)

100—percentage of these sites that are currently leaching contaminants into surrounding soil and groundwater (“Unlined and Dangerous: Duke Energy’s 32 (sic) Coal Ash Ponds in North Carolina Pose a Threat to Groundwater” – www.nationalgeographic.com – March 5, 2014)

bucksteam

19 or more—number of potentially dangerous chemicals commonly found in coal ash – including the heavy metals arsenic, lead, mercury, cadmium, chromium and selenium, as well as aluminum, antimony, barium, beryllium, boron, chlorine, cobalt, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, thallium, vanadium, and zinc. (“Coal Ash: Hazardous to Human Health” – Physicians for Social Responsibility – www.psr.org)

As high as 1 in 50—chances you may get cancer as a result of coal ash pollution if you live near an unlined site and get your water from a well (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)

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15—number of years that competing House and Senate plans would give Duke Energy to “close” all coal ash sites – Duke will be allowed to simply cover those deemed to be a “low risk” with dirt and leave them in place (Senate Bill 729)

10—number of years that would be allowed to close any sites determined (if any) to be “intermediate risks” by a new commission to be created by the legislation (Ibid.)

5—number of years that both plans would give Duke to close four specifically identified “high-risk” sites (and any others so labeled by the commission) and transfer ash into lined landfills (Ibid.)

10 out of 14—number of Duke sites that could end up simply being “capped in place” under Senate Bill 729 as it currently stands after approval by the House last week (Ibid.)

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0—of the 33 pits and 14 sites, the number that environmental experts and advocates have determined are safe to simply leave in place (Southern Environmental Law Center, NC Chapter of the Sierra Club, N.C. Conservation Network, Environment North Carolina, Appalachian Voices, the N.C. League of Conservation Voters and the Catawba, Cape Fear and French Broad Riverkeepers to name a few)

2.6 million—number of people left unprotected who rely on drinking water intakes downstream from ten leaking Duke Energy coal ash sites not required to be cleaned up under the bill (“NC coal ash bill leaves 2.6M unprotected from risks” – Southern Environmental Law Center – June 25, 2014)

coalash6-19

2.7 billion—Duke’s net 2013 profits in dollars (up $900 million over 2012) (Charlotte Observer: “Duke Energy turns profit of nearly $3B” – February 18, 2014)

-3.3—effective percentage of the federal income tax rate paid by Duke from 2008-12 on net profits of more than $9 billion during that period (that’s negative 3.3% - the company actually received a net rebate of $299 million) (“Profiles in corporate tax avoidance: Duke Energy,” NC Policy Watch and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy – April 10, 2013)

2-10 billion (or approximately 134 million to 667 million per year over 15 years)—estimated dollar cost of cleaning up Duke’s coal ash sites in North Carolina – depending upon the thoroughness of the clean-up (“Senate gives initial approval to coal ash plan” – WRAL.com, June 24, 2014)

0—amount of the cost of clean-up that both the Senate and House bills mandate be borne by Duke and its shareholders (Senate Bill 729 – www.ncleg.net)

Ratepayers Held by Duke to Pay

0—number of proposed amendments to require Duke to pay the cost of clean-up on which Senate and House members were allowed to vote (the Rules Committee chairmen in both chambers used parliamentary maneuvers to table the proposals before they could be brought to a vote)

10—number of registered lobbyists Duke Energy employs in North Carolina state government in 2014 (N.C. Secretary of State Lobbyist registration website)

1.6 million—amount in dollars of combined political contributions from Duke Energy to the campaign committees of Governor McCrory since 2008 and the outside political groups that helped his gubernatorial campaigns (“As Coal Ash Controversy Intensified, Duke Gave Another $437,000 to Help GOP Causes in 2013,” Democracy North Carolina, February 14, 2014)

28—number of years McCrory worked for Duke prior to his election in 2012

 

Coal Ash People 1

Coal Ash People 2

 

156number of days since a massive coal ash spill commenced at an abandoned Duke Energy power plant near Eden and contaminated the Dan River with toxic coal ash

Approximately 39,000—amount of coal ash (in tons) that spilled into the river (Duke Energy revised estimate – original estimate placed the figure between 50,000 and 82,000 tons)

24 million—amount of wastewater (in gallons) that also spilled into the river (Ibid. – original estimate was 27 million gallons)

13number of coal ash dams in North Carolina that have been determined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to pose a “high” (seven) or “significant” (six) hazard if they were to fail (www.southeastcoalash.org) – Failure of intermediate hazard dams is likely to result is significant property and environmental damage; failure of high hazard dams is likely result in loss of life as well

33—number of unlined coal ash pits that Duke Energy has at 14 sites throughout North Carolina (Associated Press: “NC House approves Duke coal ash cleanup bill” – July 3, 2014)

100percentage of these sites that are currently leaching contaminants into surrounding soil and groundwater (“Unlined and Dangerous: Duke Energy’s 32 (sic) Coal Ash Ponds in North Carolina Pose a Threat to Groundwater” – www.nationalgeographic.com – March 5, 2014)

19 or more—number of potentially dangerous chemicals commonly found in coal ash – including the heavy metals arsenic, lead, mercury, cadmium, chromium and selenium, as well as aluminum, antimony, barium, beryllium, boron, chlorine, cobalt, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, thallium, vanadium, and zinc. (“Coal Ash: Hazardous to Human Health” – Physicians for Social Responsibility – www.psr.org)

As high as 1 in 50chances you may get cancer as a result of coal ash pollution if you live near an unlined site and get your water from a well (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)

15number of years that competing House and Senate plans would give Duke Energy to “close” all coal ash sites – Duke will be allowed to simply cover those deemed to be a “low risk” with dirt and leave them in place (Senate Bill 729)

10number of years that would be allowed to close any sites determined (if any) to be “intermediate risks” by a new commission to be created by the legislation (Ibid.)

5number of years that both plans would give Duke to close four specifically identified “high-risk” sites (and any others so labeled by the commission) and transfer ash into lined landfills (Ibid.)

10 out of 14number of Duke sites that could end up simply being “capped in place” under Senate Bill 729 as it currently stands after approval by the House last week (Ibid.)

0—of the 33 pits and 14 sites, the number that environmental experts and advocates have determined are safe to simply leave in place (Southern Environmental Law Center, NC Chapter of the Sierra Club, N.C. Conservation Network, Environment North Carolina, Appalachian Voices, the N.C. League of Conservation Voters and the Catawba, Cape Fear and French Broad Riverkeepers to name a few)

2.6 millionnumber of people left unprotected who rely on drinking water intakes downstream from ten leaking Duke Energy coal ash sites not required to be cleaned up under the bill (“NC coal ash bill leaves 2.6M unprotected from risks” – Southern Environmental Law Center – June 25, 2014)

2.7 billionDuke’s net 2013 profits in dollars (up $900 million over 2012) (Charlotte Observer: “Duke Energy turns profit of nearly $3B” – February 18, 2014)

-3.3—effective percentage of the federal income tax rate paid by Duke from 2008-12 on net profits of more than $9 billion during that period (that’s negative 3.3% - the company actually received a net rebate of $299 million) (“Profiles in corporate tax avoidance: Duke Energy,” NC Policy Watch and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy – April 10, 2013)

2-10 billion (or approximately 134 million to 667 million per year over 15 years)estimated dollar cost of cleaning up Duke’s coal ash sites in North Carolina – depending upon the thoroughness of the clean-up (“Senate gives initial approval to coal ash plan” – WRAL.com, June 24, 2014)

0—amount of the cost of clean-up that both the Senate and House bills mandate be borne by Duke and its shareholders (Senate Bill 729 – www.ncleg.net)

0number of proposed amendments to require Duke to pay the cost of clean-up on which Senate and House members were allowed to vote (the Rules Committee chairmen in both chambers used parliamentary maneuvers to table the proposals before they could be brought to a vote)

10—number of registered lobbyists Duke Energy employs in North Carolina state government in 2014 (N.C. Secretary of State Lobbyist registration website)

1.6 million—amount in dollars of combined political contributions from Duke Energy to the campaign committees of Governor McCrory since 2008 and the outside political groups that helped his gubernatorial campaigns (“As Coal Ash Controversy Intensified, Duke Gave Another $437,000 to Help GOP Causes in 2013,” Democracy North Carolina, February 14, 2014)

28—number of years McCrory worked for Duke prior to his election in 2012

- See more at: http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2014/07/07/monday-coal-ash-numbers/#sthash.f1HRM9AZ.dpuf

Sierra Club – NC Legislative Update 07-03-14

Protect Enviro Democracy

Dear Friends,

The House passed the coal ash bill today - S 729 “Coal Ash Management Act of 2014” – which was spurred by the Dan River coal ash spill. You may recall that In February 2014, 39,000 tons of coal ash and 24 million gallons of wastewater laden with toxic heavy metals were discharged into the Dan River from a broken stormwater pipe beneath an unlined Duke Energy coal ash pit.

Coal ash has been virtually unregulated in the state, so the task of creating a regulatory framework to address both the 33 coal ash ponds in the state, but also the massive amount of dry ash generated by the Marshall plant in Catawba County, has been daunting.  Rep. McGrady (R – Henderson), Rep. Samuelson (R – Mecklenburg) and Rep. Hager (R – Burke, Rutherford) carried the bill on the House side. Sen. Apodaca (R- Buncombe, Henderson, Transylvania) and Sen. Berger (R – Guilford, Rockingham) did so on the Senate side.

S 729 represents some significant strides in dealing with the coal ash problem in North Carolina, but it hasn’t gone far enough to address the continuing dangers many communities face from coal ash pollution.

A problem section was added by the House that appears to undermine ongoing citizen litigation to address groundwater contamination from coal ash ponds at multiple locations in North Carolina. Basically, the House bill rolls back current law, recently clarified in state Superior court, that gives DENR both the authority and the responsibility to require Duke Energy to immediately eliminate the source of groundwater pollution coming from its unlined coal ash pits. We will continue to ask the House and Senate to remove this provision before final passage of the bill.

The House bill also failed to remedy the Senate bill’s lack of clear standards to ensure that closure methods are protective of groundwater near coal ash sites. All 14 coal ash sites in the North Carolina are leaking toxic heavy metals into the groundwater.  Without clear guidelines, this bill could allow coal ash at 10 of these sites to stay in place, continuing to pollute our groundwater, lakes, and rivers.

While the bill is not as strong as we’d hope would come out of the House, some positive elements of the coal ash legislation include:

  • bringing coal ash under solid waste management laws;
  • phasing out the antiquated and dangerous wet coal ash disposal method;
  • setting a timeline, with fixed dates to close out all 33 wet coal ash ponds;
  • requiring removal of ash from ponds to dry, lined storage away from the water at 4 sites (but not necessarily at the other 10 sites – that’s left to be determined by new Coal Ash Commission);
  • setting minimum standards for landfill disposal of coal ash;
  • setting standards, requiring permitting and buffers for large structural fill projects; and
  • requiring a public process, public hearings, and public comment for coal ash site closure plans.

While some helpful amendments were added by House members, overall the House failed to significantly improve the bill from the Senate version. House members on both sides of the aisle pushed for a stronger bill but most were pleased, at the end of the day, to pass a bill that moves the state forward in a number of significant ways on coal ash. The final vote on the bill in the House was 94 -16.

Opportunity for Action:

Please thank House members who put forth positive amendments (listed below) to improve the bill. Some good amendments passed, others failed, and many were tabled (a procedural move to avoid a vote). Much like in the fracking bill debate, some of the most high-profile amendments were tabled instead of allowing a vote.

Passed:

  • Rep.Murry (R-Wake) – removed a requirement making capping in place mandatory for low-risk sites, expanded and improved closure options and added a study to incentivize the reuse of coal ash.
  • Rep.G. Martin (D-Wake) – added dam safety and security measures for dams at coal ash ponds.

Tabled (to avoid putting members on the record with a vote):

  • Reps.Goodman (D-Hoke, Montgomery, Richmond, Robeson, Scotland),Wilkins (D-Granville, Person),G. Graham (D-Craven, Greene, Lenoir) andWray (D-Halifax, Northampton) tried to add the coal ash plants in their districts (Belews Creek, Weatherspoon, Roxboro, Buck and Lee) to the high priority site list for clean closure.
  • Rep.Baskerville (D-Granville, Vance, Warren) offered an amendment that would have prohibited Duke Energy from transferring the cost of coal ash cleanup to ratepayers.
  • Rep.L. Hall (D-Durham) offered an amendment that would have eliminated the variance procedure (added in the House version of the bill), which allows DENR to give leeway to Duke Energy on coal ash cleanup deadlines.

Failed:

  • Rep.Alexander (D-Mecklenburg) offered an amendment in committee that called for a baseline mortality and morbidity study in areas around coal ash ponds to better gage the effects of coal ash on public health.
  • Rep.Stone (R-Harnett, Lee) offered an amendment that would have added the Cape Fear plant, in his district, to the list of high priority sites, which will get fully cleaned up and all coal ash removed within 5 years. Stone’s amendment passed with a 57-54 vote but then leadership scrambled to flip votes, pulled a procedural move to reconsider the vote, and a second vote was taken of 54-58.
  • Rep.Luebke (D-Durham) offered an amendment to require standards for smaller structural fill projects.
  • Rep.Hamilton (D-Brunswick, New Hanover) offered a good amendment that would have eliminated the possibility of disposing coal ash in open pit mines.
  • Rep.Meyer (D-Durham, Orange) offered an amendment that would have eliminated cost as one of the factors that the new Coal Ash Commission may consider when reviewing coal ash pond closure plans, thereby prioritizing environmental and public health considerations.
  • Rep.Fisher (D-Buncombe) offered an amendment to add a seat on the new Coal Ash Commission to a person who lives near a coal ash plant.
  • Rep.Harrison (D-Guilford) offered an amendment that would have deleted the very concerning section on compliance boundaries that appears to undermine ongoing groundwater contamination lawsuits by environmental groups, including the Sierra Club. This amendment highlighted the most notable difference between the House and Senate versions of the bill.

Looking Ahead:

Next the bill will go to the Senate for a vote of concurrence, likely next week. It is expected that the Senate will vote not to concur and will appoint conferees.  The House will also appoint conferees.  A final bill will be negotiated by members appointed as conferees. (note: conference committees are not open processes).

And later this year, in December, the EPA is scheduled to come out with a federal rule to address coal ash cleanup. The challenges that North Carolina has faced in developing comprehensive coal ash legislation shows that a strong EPA rule is needed more than ever to set national standards for coal ash disposal.

Thank you for all your efforts to communicate with legislators about this issue.

Best,

Cassie Gavin, Director of Government Relations

Sierra Club – NC Chapter

cassie.gavin@sierraclub.org

New Video: Why Does Duke Energy Hate Solar Power in North Carolina?

NC WARN has launched a statewide campaign to expose Duke Energy’s efforts to destroy North Carolina’s growing solar power industry at the rooftop and large-scale levels. To learn more about their campaign, got to Why Does Duke Energy Hate Solar?

Get everyone you know to send a short email to NC Utilities Commission Chair Ed Finley (statements@ncuc.net) about the upcoming solar hearing in Raleigh. This particular hearing is about large-scale solar but has implications for rooftop systems as well. Tell Commissioner Chair Ed Finley why large-scale solar is valuable for North Carolina. Please reference docket E-100 Sub 140 in the subject line.

Help fix the NC coal ash crisis

North Carolina Chapter Sierra Club

Dear friends,

As the 2014 session of the NC General Assembly heads into its final days, one major environmental bill remains in the balance —  one that will succeed, or fall short, of addressing the coal ash crisis in our state.

Gus Belews convio.png
Coal Ash Action Button - june - convio2.png

As the House takes up S. 729, “Coal Ash Management Act of 2014″, there is critically important issue remains to be addressed in the coal ash bill. We need you take action today.

The February coal ash spill into the Dan River was the third largest in our nation’s history. The spill highlighted the dangerous practice of  storing 103 million tons of toxic coal ash in unlined pits next to our state’s waterways– and to end that practice requires the legislature’s attention, action and leadership.

The Senate has acted.  S 729 “Coal Ash Management Act of 2014″, was approved unanimously last week.  It goes a long way towards addressing the pollution entering our waterways and groundwater from Duke Energy’s 33 coal ash ponds in the state.

But it has one serious shortcoming.

The Senate’s bill does not adequately ensure that all coal ash ponds, including those categorized as “low risk”, will permanently isolate coal ash from water to prevent further water pollution. Coal ash contains toxic heavy metals that are water soluble and at every coal ash site in NC these chemicals are leaking into groundwater supplies.  A proposed solution called “capping in place”, which leaves the coal ash in the ground with a landfill liner on top, can still lead to polluting ground and surface water.

The NC House will take up the coal ash bill at any time now.

Please contact your House Representative today.  Ask that clear criteria be established that would make sure that alternative closure methods selected for all 33 sites would only be allowed if Duke Energy could stop the water pollution from coal ash.

Click here to contact your representative today!

Thanks for standing up for clean water,

Zak Keith
Lead Organizer for the NC Sierra Club

P.S. – This bill could move quickly, please send your message today!  We need your state House Representative to know that without permanent separation of coal ash and ground water, covering coal ash pits is not a solution.

Take Action: Gather Comments to EPA on Carbon Pollution

Climate Change

President Obama promised that his administration would take action to confront the climate crisis — and now the EPA has finally proposed the first-ever safeguards against carbon pollution from our nation’s aging power plants.

This is a big deal, and the big polluters know it.

This is the beginning of what could be the biggest climate fight in history. Fossil fuel billionaires are mobilizing like never before. They’re already sending their lobbyists to Washington and spreading their fear-mongering talking points on Fox News.

Don’t let the fossil fuel billionaires get the last word. Flood the EPA with official comments saying that America is ready for strong climate action!

So what do I do with my signed comment forms? Bring them to our next monthly meeting or mail them to the NC Beyond Coal team at Sierra Club, 34 Wall Street Suite 709, Asheville, NC 28806. For questions or comments, contact contact Zak Keith or Emma Greenbaum.

Thanks for  being a Climate Action Champion!

Carbon Pollution Standards CommentsCarbon_Pollution_Postcard_Existing Plants

Speak Out! – EPA Hearing on Carbon Pollution Standard, July 29th, Atlanta

carbon-dioxide-danger-sign-s-0413-300x216

 

EPA Hearing on Carbon Pollution Standard
We invite you to join us!
Tuesday, July 29, from 9am to 8pm
At
lanta, GA

Concerned citizens from around the region are planning to attend the EPA’s public hearing in Atlanta on the newly-proposed Clean Power Plan to set limits on carbon pollution. The hearing will convene at 9:00 a.m. and end at 8:00 p.m. EST and you will need to register here to offer comments. The last day to pre-register in advance will be Friday, July 25, 2014.

For more information about the hearing, visit EPA’s Carbon Rule hearing page; for more information about the proposed rule, check out Mary Anne Hitts’ recent piece on The Next Steps for the EPA’s Clean Power Plan and the EPA’s Carbon Pollution Standards webpage.

If you are interested in participating, contact Zak Keith or Emma Greenbaum today!

03-PL-koch-brothers-carbon-pollution-cartoon

EPA Hearing on Carbon Pollution Standard

When: Tuesday, July 29th, 9:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Where: Sam Nunn Atlanta Federal Center
61 Forsyth Street, SW
Atlanta, GA, 30303

Register: http://www2.epa.gov/carbon-pollution-standards/forms/public-hearings-clean-power-plan-proposed-rule#register

Interested in coming but not sure what to say? Contact

Can’t make it to Atlanta? Submit a comment online, here.

 

The Power of a Plan

Coming Clean: The blog of Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune

June 24, 2014

The Power of a Plan

Michael Brune Follow me on Twitter and Facebook. View my blog.

In his 19th-century curmudgeon’s classic, The Devil’s Dictionary, Ambrose Bierce defined a plan as “the best method of accomplishing an accidental result.” When the EPA released its “Clean Power Plan” this month for reducing carbon pollution from power plants, the agency was clear about the results it expects by 2030: Cutting carbon pollution from the power sector to 30 percent below 2005 levels, while also reducing other air pollutants (which by themselves cause thousands of premature deaths) by 25 percent.

Maybe you’ve heard that this plan is momentous — a real game changer. Or maybe you’ve heard that, by itself, it’s not nearly tough enough to get us where we want to be by 2030. Actually, both of those things are true. This plan really is a big deal and it’s the payoff for years of hard work by dedicated activists. And, yes, it can and should be made even stronger — and we’re going to keep working to make that happen. Because the plan focuses on action at the state level, the Sierra Club is particularly well positioned to do that, too.

So, kudos to the EPA. But you know what? We’ve already seen some important results from this plan that — if not quite “accidental” — were by no means a sure thing, either.

Because President Obama is walking the walk on his 2009 Copenhagen pledge to reduce emissions, U.S. international credibility on climate action was boosted overnight. Most notably, we had the first indication ever from China that it was considering capping its own carbon emissions — an announcement that came the day after the EPA rolled out its plan. An important climate summit is happening in Paris next year, and this plan puts the U.S. in a better position to help secure an agreement.

Here at home, the plan has left the fossil-fuel lobby (and the politicians who take their marching orders from the Koch brothers) flailing for a credible response. Many cited a discredited report from the Chamber of Commerce that wasn’t even based on the EPA’s actual plan. Apart from the Tea Party choir, their sermons fell on deaf ears.

Meanwhile, the plan has drawn considerable support from non-fossil fuel industries and businesses, including some utilities. I think there are at least three good reasons for that. First, the EPA bent over backward to make its plan fair and flexible. Second, the reality of climate disruption has long since been accepted by businesses that can already see its effects on their bottom lines. Third, as the EPA’s own analysis shows, these standards not only are a cost-effective response but also will generate new economic opportunities and thousands of jobs.

Most exciting of all has been the response of those who will be most affected by this new plan: the American people. Overwhelmingly, that response has been positive. Polls (including one a week ago from The Wall Street Journal and NBC News) have found two out of three Americans supporting the new standards. Best of all, in at least one poll, a majority stuck to that view whether they were Democrats, Republicans, or independents.

But, getting back to long-term results, do I think that by 2030 we will achieve the results the EPA is aiming for with this plan? No. I think we’ll do far better. By 2030, clean, renewable energy will be playing a much bigger role in our economy than the EPA is guessing, and that transformation will multiply the already significant public health, economic, and climate benefits we’re expecting from these carbon pollution reductions.

Should that be called an accidental outcome? If so, then it’s a happy one.

You can submit an official comment on the EPA’s new Clean Power Plan here.