Now is the Time for YOU to Take Action on Coal Ash

North Carolina Chapter Sierra Club

Dear Friends,

Citizens across North Carolina are taking action to hold Duke accountable for their massive coal ash spill into the Dan River. And now our legislators need to follow through to make sure nothing like this ever happens again in North Carolina.

coal ash spillRegister Today - convio.png

We have the momentum on our side– but your legislators need to hear from their constituents. That’s where you come in.

With 36 days until the start of the legislative session on May 14, now is the best time to meet with legislators at home in their districts. The message is clear: the North Carolina General Assembly needs to make sure Duke Energy cleans up its waste at the three dozen unlined wet coal ash pits across the state, all of which threaten local water resources.

Join the NC Sierra Club and our allies on a webinar at 6:00 p.m. on April 10 to get the training and the tools to effectively advocate and educate your legislators on coal ash.

With 170 legislators to meet with, it’s time to get started securing support from your legislators for meaningful action when the legislature reconvenes in May! Sign up today to get you and your neighbors started.

Reserve your Webinar seat now at:

https://www4.gotomeeting.com/register/205129519

Title: Coal Ash Training

Date: Thursday, April 10, 2014

Time: 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM EDT

Location: Online

Please let me know if you have any questions about this training or what you can do make sure all of the coal ash in our state is cleaned up and moved away from our water supplies!

Cheers,

Zak Keith
Lead Organizer, NC Sierra Club

P.S. – Registration for our free webinar is fast and easy!  Don’t miss your chance to find out what you can do to help make sure Duke Energy’s toxic coal ash gets cleaned up!

Don’t Miss “Years of Living Dangerously” – Starting April 13

Don’t Miss “Years of Living Dangerously” – Starting April 13

“YEARS of LIVING DANGEROUSLY is global warming like you’ve never seen it before.  Coming to SHOWTIME in April, this multi-part television event tells the biggest story of our time: climate change and the impact it’s having on people right now in the US and all over the world.  Over the course of eight episodes, we’ll report on the crippling effects of climate change-related weather events and the ways individuals, communities, companies and governments are struggling to find solutions to the biggest threat our world has ever faced.  An all-star cast of correspondents goes into the field—to Texas, Kansas, California, Colorado, New York, Maine, Montana, Washington, the Carolinas, Florida, the Middle East, Africa, the Andes, the North Pole, Indonesia, Bangladesh and the South Pacific—to meet the people and see the places affected by climate change.” (via yearsoflivingdangerously.com)

Celebrities including Matt Damon, Jessica Alba, Don Cheadle, Olivia Munn, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Harrison Ford, America Ferrera, and more are acting as correspondents to share these climate stories and solutions from around the world.

Watch for Ian Somerhalder (Lost, Vampire Diaries) interviewing Mary Anne Hitt, Beyond Coal director, and Anna Jane Joyner, Western North Carolina Alliance activist. Parts of the episode are set right here in Asheville, NC, including Duke Energy’s Lake Julian coal plant. In 2013, City of Asheville unanimously passed a clean energy resolution. In 2014, community members are asking Duke Energy NC to stop living dangerously and move beyond coal to a clean energy future.

Years Mary Anne

 

Help Us Hold Duke Energy Accountable

North Carolina Chapter Sierra Club

Dear Friends,

Since millions of gallons of toxic coal ash and contaminated water spilled from an unlined Duke Energy waste pit into the Dan River in February, there’s been a lot of talk, but little action.

Coal Ash Convio.jpg

This image is of the coal ash spill at Duke Energy’s plant on the Dan River.  Photo credit: Wake Forest University Center for Energy, Environment & Sustainability.

Duke Accountable Click.png

Last week, Gov. McCrory sent a letter to Duke Energy asking the company to provide options and costs for removing their toxic coal ash from unlined pits near our waterways.  He gave them the deadline of March 15 to respond.

That doesn’t mean the state will take action. But you can help change that.

It is long overdue for Duke Energy to clean up its act. That’s why we are raising $37,000 by March 15th to hold Duke Energy accountable. That’s $1,000 for every coal ash pit in North Carolina.

That’s right.  There are 37 of these unlined coal ash pits, most of them near waterways.  And with your help, we can pressure them to move these toxic coal ash pits away from our waterways and into high and dry lined landfills.

It’s easy for politicians to call for solutions in a time of emergency.  But real leadership is shown when those calls to action turn into enforceable laws with deadlines for clean up.

By acting now, you can mobilize public support across the state to call upon legislators to hold Duke Energy accountable.  Your support will rally our 50,000 members and supporters– a presence in all 100 of North Carolina’s counties–who are well positioned to take on this challenge. Please join us today in this cause!

And with more than four decades of experience in advocating for the environment before the North Carolina General Assembly and Executive branch, we are well-prepared to take this on.

Click here to help make sure that Duke Energy cleans up its toxic coal ash pits!

For people who live and play on the Dan River, things may never be the same.  But you can help make a difference for other communities across the state.

Sincerely,

Molly Diggins
State Director of the NC Sierra Club
P.S. – Every dollar you give stays right here in North Carolina. Please help us reach our fundraising goal of $37,000 to help our work to hold the Governor and legislators accountable and urge them to find cleanup solutions for the 37 toxic coal ash pits that threaten our waterways.

A Somber Reminder – 35th Anniversary of Three Mile Island Nuclear Disaster

The same folks that brought you the Dan River Coal Ash Disaster and are part of a federal criminal investigation are talking about about building 2 nuclear reactors just southwest of Charlotte in Gaffney, SC.  We need to keep the pressure on to tell Duke Energy and our elected officials that we Don’t Want Dirty Energy. We want them to clean up their act and give us Clean Nuclear Free and Carbon Free Renewable Energy!

Check out the actual NBC report from the day of the disaster and the story below.

Three Mile Island Mar 28 1979

And here’s a report from This Day in History

Mar 28, 1979: Nuclear accident at Three Mile Island

At 4 a.m. on March 28, 1979, the worst accident in the history of the U.S. nuclear power industry begins when a pressure valve in the Unit-2 reactor at Three Mile Island fails to close. Cooling water, contaminated with radiation, drained from the open valve into adjoining buildings, and the core began to dangerously overheat.

The Three Mile Island nuclear power plant was built in 1974 on a sandbar on Pennsylvania‘s Susquehanna River, just 10 miles downstream from the state capitol in Harrisburg. In 1978, a second state-of-the-art reactor began operating on Three Mile Island, which was lauded for generating affordable and reliable energy in a time of energy crises.

After the cooling water began to drain out of the broken pressure valve on the morning of March 28, 1979, emergency cooling pumps automatically went into operation. Left alone, these safety devices would have prevented the development of a larger crisis. However, human operators in the control room misread confusing and contradictory readings and shut off the emergency water system. The reactor was also shut down, but residual heat from the fission process was still being released. By early morning, the core had heated to over 4,000 degrees, just 1,000 degrees short of meltdown. In the meltdown scenario, the core melts, and deadly radiation drifts across the countryside, fatally sickening a potentially great number of people.

As the plant operators struggled to understand what had happened, the contaminated water was releasing radioactive gases throughout the plant. The radiation levels, though not immediately life-threatening, were dangerous, and the core cooked further as the contaminated water was contained and precautions were taken to protect the operators. Shortly after 8 a.m., word of the accident leaked to the outside world. The plant’s parent company, Metropolitan Edison, downplayed the crisis and claimed that no radiation had been detected off plant grounds, but the same day inspectors detected slightly increased levels of radiation nearby as a result of the contaminated water leak. Pennsylvania Governor Dick Thornburgh considered calling an evacuation.

Finally, at about 8 p.m., plant operators realized they needed to get water moving through the core again and restarted the pumps. The temperature began to drop, and pressure in the reactor was reduced. The reactor had come within less than an hour of a complete meltdown. More than half the core was destroyed or molten, but it had not broken its protective shell, and no radiation was escaping. The crisis was apparently over.

Two days later, however, on March 30, a bubble of highly flammable hydrogen gas was discovered within the reactor building. The bubble of gas was created two days before when exposed core materials reacted with super-heated steam. On March 28, some of this gas had exploded, releasing a small amount of radiation into the atmosphere. At that time, plant operators had not registered the explosion, which sounded like a ventilation door closing. After the radiation leak was discovered on March 30, residents were advised to stay indoors. Experts were uncertain if the hydrogen bubble would create further meltdown or possibly a giant explosion, and as a precaution Governor Thornburgh advised “pregnant women and pre-school age children to leave the area within a five-mile radius of the Three Mile Island facility until further notice.” This led to the panic the governor had hoped to avoid; within days, more than 100,000 people had fled surrounding towns.

On April 1, President Jimmy Carter arrived at Three Mile Island to inspect the plant. Carter, a trained nuclear engineer, had helped dismantle a damaged Canadian nuclear reactor while serving in the U.S. Navy. His visit achieved its aim of calming local residents and the nation. That afternoon, experts agreed that the hydrogen bubble was not in danger of exploding. Slowly, the hydrogen was bled from the system as the reactor cooled.

At the height of the crisis, plant workers were exposed to unhealthy levels of radiation, but no one outside Three Mile Island had their health adversely affected by the accident. Nonetheless, the incident greatly eroded the public’s faith in nuclear power. The unharmed Unit-1 reactor at Three Mile Island, which was shut down during the crisis, did not resume operation until 1985. Cleanup continued on Unit-2 until 1990, but it was too damaged to be rendered usable again. In the more than two decades since the accident at Three Mile Island, not a single new nuclear power plant has been ordered in the United States.

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/nuclear-accident-at-three-mile-island

New Poll: North Carolinians Want Coal Ash Safeguards Now

March 25, 2014

Mary Anne Hitt
Director, Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign

The controversy continues almost two months after a Duke Energy spill of toxic coal ash into the Dan River. First, the Waterkeeper Alliance discovered Duke Energy dumping some 61 million gallons of coal ash wastewater into yet another waterway – the Cape Fear River. Duke Energy has been cited eight times since the Feb. 2 Dan River spill!

Now, state regulators have withdrawn the sweetheart coal ash violation settlements offered in previous years and instead have asked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to step in to further investigate coal ash violations.

Today the Sierra Club released a poll showing that these inexcusable and shocking continued water violations are taking their toll on North Carolinians. Some highlights from the poll:

  • A stunning 90 percent of North Carolina voters want Duke to clean up all coal ash sites in the state, including the Dan River spill, and 88 percent feel coal ash should be stored away from water in specially lined landfills.
  • A large majority of North Carolina voters – 75 percent – are aware of the Dan River coal ash spill and there is broad concern about it within the state’s electorate.

There is strong bipartisan support for regulating coal ash as a hazardous substance, to the tune of 83 percent of North Carolina voters, including super majorities of Democrats (91 percent), Independents (85 percent), and Republicans (75 percent).

  • North Carolinians, particularly those who have heard the most about the spill, place the blame for it squarely on Duke Energy.
  • North Carolinians strongly favor more regulation and enforcement when it comes to coal ash, and overwhelmingly believe that without this another spill will occur.
  • 70 percent of voters would support a candidate who favors strong regulations and enforcement to protect the water, air, and health of North Carolinians and to prevent future incidents like the recent coal ash spill, including 55 percent of Republicans, 69 percent of Independents, and 87 percent of Democrats.

These results are strikingly similar to the poll we recently conducted in West Virginia. Taken together, the two polls demonstrate a clear finding that turns conventional wisdom on its head – people in states where the coal industry is still powerful want protections against coal pollution, and they want to support independent leaders who will stand up for clean air and water safeguards.

This story is not going away, in part because residents of the affected states continue to suffer from these spills. In Charleston, residents are still not drinking their water and new test results revealed just today that the coal chemical MCHM is still leaking into the Elk River and showing up in household drinking water.

In North Carolina, officials say it will take at least two years to clean up the Dan River spill, while more coal ash problems are being revealed all the time. In Virginia, which also received some of the Dan River pollution, residents are angry and worried about their health, safety, and economy, and Governor McAuliffe has called on Duke to cover the costs of the cleanup.

The EPA has the tools it needs to prevent another Dan River spill from happening. As Politico reported this week, the EPA is coming under increased scrutiny for failing to finalize long-overdue coal water protections. No more delay – just ask the people of North Carolina. TAKE ACTION: It’s time to protect our water from coal pollution.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mary-anne-hitt/north-carolinians-want-co_b_5030298.html

Here are some related articles:

The Hill:

http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/e2-wire/201636-sierra-club-poll-finds-support-for-coal-ash-regulation-in-nc#.UzGoNdPzoPQ.twitter

ThinkProgress:

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/03/25/3418629/nc-voters-want-strong-coal-ash-regulation/

Charlotte Observer:

http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2014/03/25/4792702/voters-want-tougher-ash-rules.html#.UzG9PfldWSo

Greensboro News-Record:

http://www.news-record.com/news/article_a033d77c-b43e-11e3-a726-0017a43b2370.html

Charlotte Business Journal:

http://www.bizjournals.com/charlotte/blog/energy/2014/03/survey-duke-energy-has-too-much-pull-in-state.html

Don’t Miss a Fracking Good Time! – March 27

Please make plans to take part in a powerful event this March 27th at 6:30 PM! Charlotte is one of only 2 North Carolina locations chosen for the national fracked communities tour. You’ll definitely want to hear the stories and learn how we can help protect our air, water, and lands.

STFA-NC-Tour-Meme-5

Can you join us on Thursday, March 27th at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Charlotte to hear how fracked communities are fighting back?

Fracking wells, industrial zones, and contaminated water. Those are the realities that people across the country are living with where fracking exists. We know that North Carolina isn’t worth the risk, and some friends are coming to town to help us fight back.

“Cautionary Tales of Fracked Communities,” a nationwide speakers tour, is coming to Charlotte to help us in our fight. It’s a chance to hear from people living in the shadow of gas rigs, and learn how they are fighting back.

Thursday March 27 at 6:30 PM

Unitarian Universalist Church of Charlotte

 

234 North Sharon Amity Road

Charlotte, NC 28211

Speakers will include:

  • Karen Feridun, a grassroots activist from Kutztown, PA who is fighting against fracking in her community. She helped convince the Pennsylvania Democratic party to add a Fracking Moratorium to their party platform.
  • Jill Wiener, small business owner turned activist from New York who has been leading the charge to keep fracking out of New York.
  • Robert Nehman, a father from Iowa whose life was turned upside down after frac sand mining came to his town

The second part of the meeting will be a training on how to meet with elected officials.

Together, we can keep fracking out of North Carolina, and ensure that the next series of cautionary tales aren’t from the Tarheel state.

See you there!

Fracking Tour Sponsors

Clean Up Dirty Energy – Support Clean Energy

Today is an excellent day to take some action!


Grassroots Activism: North Carolinians Rally for Coal Water Pollution Protections Grassroots Activism: North Carolinians Rally for Coal Water Pollution Protections

Late last month, security guards at Duke Energy’s Charlotte headquarters blocked Beyond Coal director Mary Anne Hitt from delivering 9,000 petitions signed by Duke customers calling on the company to clean up its toxic coal ash, in the wake of a spill that decimated 70 miles of the Dan River. It was the culmination of a dramatic rally that shone a glaring spotlight on one company’s reckless pollution practices, and the urgent need for the Environmental Protection Agency to finally close coal water pollution loopholes, without delay.

Coal ash is a waste product from power plants, and we can’t afford to see more spills of this toxic byproduct that pollutes our waterways.

Read more about the rally in Mary Anne’s column.


Take Action: Tell your Representative: Support Clean Energy!

The wind industry supports more than 80,700 American-made jobs around the country and is paving the way toward 100 percent clean energy for America. With the right policies in place, the wind industry could support 500,000 jobs by 2030.

Congressmen Steve King and Dave Loebsack have written a bipartisan letter calling on Congress to renew the Production Tax Credit for clean, wind energy.

Take Action
Ask your representative to sign this job-creating, bipartisan letter.

2014 Mecklenburg State of the Environment Report

The 2014 Mecklenburg State of the Environment Report has been released. Here’s background and information about the report.

Understanding the County’s Environmental Condition: 2014 State of the Environment Report

Every two years, the Land Use and Environmental Services Agency (LUESA) produces a State of Environment Report (SOER). This publication helps us understand our current environmental condition, while identifying strategies for ensuring that we have clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, and healthy land on which to live and recreate.

The 2014 SOER provides an update from the 2012 SOER, along with trend analysis of priority environmental indicators in Mecklenburg County.

Analysis of the trend changes from 2012 to 2014 show that Mecklenburg County’s air quality could be better, surface water quality remains partially impaired, and our recycling rate has room for improvement.

Among the highlights:

Water Quality–The 2012 SOER showed that waste recycling and lake water quality were “getting better.”  In 2014, the new analysis shows this improvement has slowed down.

Commercial Waste–The amount of commercial waste going into the landfill remained the same as in 2012. The good news is that this amount is 57% below what it was in 2008.
Residential Waste–Household waste amounts remain below one ton per home, unchanged from 2012.
Recycling Center–More customers are visiting the County’s full-service centers, nearly 465,000 last year. Also, 966 tons of electronic waste (computers, phones, etc.) was collected.
Air Quality–continues to improve, with the air quality index down more than 25 percent and trending in the right direction.

This 2014 SOER expands on the traditional identification of priority environmental indicators in Mecklenburg County by providing a trend analysis for each environmental indicator during recent history. Each SOER chapter button below provides a list of recommended actions for addressing these priority environmental indicators as well as informative and fun videos.

Visit Air Quality's Chapter Page Visit Land's Chapter Page
Visit Water's Chapter Page Visit Waste's Chapter Page

Environmental Indicators
Environmental Indicators can be found through the chapter buttons above or via the table below. This website will be updated as either the indicator trend changes or as new information becomes available.

Environmental Indicators Key

Air

indicator
Overall Air Quality

indicator
Ozone

indicator
Particulate Matter

indicator
NOx, SO2, CO, Lead

 Land

indicator
Climate Change and Wildlife

indicator
Nature Preserves

indicator
Greenways

indicator
Facility Planning

 Waste

indicator
Commercial Waste

indicator
Yard Waste

indicator
Residential Waste

indicator
Household Hazardous Waste 

 Water

indicator
Groundwater

indicator
Lakes

indicator
Public Involvement 

indicator
Streams

If you are interested in exploring trends back to 1987, you are encouraged to read the 2008 SOER. If you are interested in learning more about how Mecklenburg County’s State of the Environment reflects on our region, you are encouraged to read the 2010 SOER or the 2012 SOER.

The entire report is available at 2014 SOER. If you have questions, please contact LUESA Director Ebenezer Gujjarlapudi at 704-432-6201 or email.

Will You Send a Happy St. Patrick’s Day Message to Our Elected Officials?

St-Patrick's Day

Unfortunately, there is nothing green about Coal Ash!

Monday is St. Patrick’s Day. What can you do to make sure we don’t have another disaster here in the Catawba River and rivers around North Carolina?

CALL OR EMAIL YOUR LEGISLATORS!

Wish them a Happy St. Patrick’s Day and tell them we will settle for nothing less than Duke Energy’s removal of the coal ash to dry, lined storage areas away from our waterways!

For additional information click on our Coal Ash Legislation Fact Sheet

District Rep Party Phone Number Email
92 Charles Jeter Rep 919-733-5654 charles.jeter@ncleg.net
101 Beverly Earle Dem 919-715-2530 beverly.earle@ncleg.net
102 Becky Carney Dem 919-733-5827 becky.carney@ncleg.net
88 Rob Bryan Rep 919-733-5607 rob.bryan@ncleg.net
104 Ruth Samuelson Rep 919-715-3009 ruth.samuelson@ncleg.net
99 Rodney Moore Dem 919-733-5606 rodney.moore@ncleg.net
100 Tricia Cotham Dem 919-715-0706 tricia.cotham@ncleg.net
106 Carla Cunningham Dem 919-733-5807 carla.cunningham@ncleg.net
107 Kelly Alexander Dem 919-733-5778 kelly.alexander@ncleg.net
105 Jacqueline Schaffer Rep 919-733-5886 jacqueline.schaffer@ncleg.net
103 William Brawley Rep 919-733-5800 bill.brawley@ncleg.net

McCrory Response to Climate Crisis – Remove the Evidence!

You have to watch this! WRAL has documented the attempt by Governor McCrory to stop climate change in North Carolina. Easy. Just get rid of the evidence!

The following are just some of the items very quietly removed from the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) website:

  1. The Climate Change webpage on the Division of Air Quality website
  2. A list of resources and links about Greenhouse Gases and Climate Change.
  3. A 100 page report on the economic impact of Greenhouse Gas mitigation
  4. The 118 page North Carolina Climate Action Plan

Watch NC Sierra Club Director of Communications Dustin Chicurel-Bayard response to the Governor McCrory and DENR Secretary John Skvarla’s denial of Climate Change. Thanks Dustin!

Dustin Chicurel Bayard with the Sierra Club says the so-called “debate” isn’t one, at least in terms of the scientific community.

“Climate change is accepted. Climate change is real. It’s a fact. It is man-made,” Chicurel-Bayard said. “Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree that climate change is happening.”

He said policymakers, planners, engineers and the public should have access to information that can help them plan long-term projects, like roads, bridges and other infrastructure.

“This shouldn’t be about opinion. This should be about science and facts and information, and that should be readily available, especially when North Carolina taxpayers have already spent money on studies,” he added. “The public deserves better.”

No DENR Climate ChangeClimate change links vanish from DENR website