NC Sierra Club Footnotes Online – June 2014

North Carolina Chapter Sierra Club

Dear Friends,

We know it’s hot all across the state, and things are certainly heating up in Raleigh right now as the legislature settles in for its final weeks of short session.  As expected, one of the last bills the legislature will consider is going to be one that looks for a solution to our coal ash crisis. We have a real opportunity to get meaningful legislation passed on coal ash, but we are going to need you to be a part of this.  You can read more about the latest coal ash developments below.

Also below, you’ll find a recap of our recent wilderness celebration, a write-up of this month’s featured wilderness area, and plenty more! We hope you enjoy this month’s edition of Footnotes online, and as always, thanks for your constant support for our state’s air, water, and natural places.

Cheers,

Your staff at the NC Sierra Club

Take Action: Speak Up on Coal Ash

As you know, legislative leaders vowed to find a solution to our state’s coal ash crisis after 40,000 tons of coal ash and millions of gallons of contaminated waste water spilled into the Dan River in February.  This week, Senate leaders offered some significant improvements to the initial plan offered by the Governor, but we need you to encourage legislators to strengthen the bill even more.

There are several areas of the bill where legislators could increase protections for North Carolinians and our state’s waterways.  Click here to find out what needs to be strengthened and how you can take action today!

 

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Breaking News on Billboards!

Please thank Rep. Becky Carney (D-Mecklenburg) for just this morning successfully amending a regulatory reform bill that is moving at the speed of light through the House. Her successhul amendment rebukes a newly proposed set of giveaways to the billboard industry.

The provisions in S 493, which has morphed into the 2014 Regulatory Reform Act, would have given the billboard industry new concessions for tree-removals on exit ramps.  It would also have required any city or county to allow a billboard to be rebuilt, even if it no longer conforms with current requirements.  Please take a moment to thank Rep. Carney for efforts to block another giveaway to the billboard industry.

 

Thirty Years of Wilderness Celebrated in One Evening

On June 12, people traveled from all across the state and gathered in Raleigh to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the NC Wilderness Act.  The law protected 68,700 acres of wilderness areas in North Carolina and an additional 25,816 acres of wilderness study areas.

Awards were given to two Sierrans who played pivotal roles in passing the landmark legislation, Dr. Robbie Cox and Anne Taylor.  

Robbie is a three time national club President who recently stepped down from the national Board last year after nearly two decades of services.  Anne was once a leader of the LeConte Chapter (North and South Carolina) Chair and later Hunt administration official. 

Without the work of Robbie, Anne, and many other volunteers, North Carolinians would have fewer places to connect with nature and experience wilderness.

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Click here to view photos from the celebration in Raleigh! (Big thanks to David R. Keith the photos!)

Breaking news!  Dr. Robbie Cox will the guest on WUNC’s The State of Thing’s on Thursday, June 19 at noon!  June 19 is the actual anniversary of the day that the NC Wilderness Act became law.  Click here to visit the WUNC webpage where you will be able to stream the program live this Thursday!

 

Write-In Success in the Mountains

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Thanks to local Sierra Club volunteers, voters in Buncombe County will have a choice when they go to the polls to vote for the County Board of Commissioners in November.  The photo to right shows Rich Wasch and Karen Ziff, just two of the many volunteers who worked to gather signatures throughout Buncombe County.

Volunteers gathered more than enough signatures to qualify Nancy Waldrop, an unaffiliated candidate, to appear on the ballot.  The reason this is a big deal is because the only other candidate on the ballot is committed to rolling back key environmental protections, including Buncombe County’s goal, adopted in 2013, to reduce the county’s carbon footprint by 80%. 

Thanks to Wenoca group chair Judy Mattox, 95 Sierrans gathered over 4,000 signatures (far more than the 2,222 needed) to get Waldrop on the ballot. But with the November election just around the corner, it’s doubtful that this is the last volunteer effort we will see in this race.

 

NC Volunteers Get a Well Deserved Recognition

At the NC Sierra Club’s Executive Committee on May 31, three volunteers were recognized for their contributions to the organization.  Chapter Chair Robert Scull awarded the following volunteers with a certificate and small gift:

  • Nancy Card was recognized for her role in reorganizing the Cape Fear Group three years ago, helping reinvigorate the chapter outings program, and taking a leadership role on the Wilderness Committee.  Nancy was rightfully praised for her leadership and communications skills.  We are thankful her continuing contributions to the NC Sierra Club.
  • Kelly Mieszkalski was recognized for her significant contributions to the chapter outings program.  Kelly has attended national conferences to make contacts and bring back ideas, been part of organizing two outings leader trainings, helped to get new hike leaders started, and initiated tools and processes to make the outings more prominent and well-attended.  Her contributions to the state chapter and the revived Headwaters group are highly valued.
  • Maribeth Weinman was presented an award for her remarkable prowess as the Treasurer for the North Carolina Chapter.  As Chapter Treasurer, Maribeth’s work is essential for maintaining the fiscal integrity of the organization. It is very fitting that Maribeth was praised for her high standards of accuracy, timeliness and completeness.
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From left to right: Robert Scull, Maribeth Weinman, Nancy Card, and Kelly Mieszkalski.  Photo credit: Harvey Richmond.

 

Wilderness Spotlight: Shining Rock Wilderness

This month, we take a look at the Shining Rock Wilderness. This protected area was created by the 1964 Wilderness Act which celebrates its 50th anniversary this September.

North Carolina was one of only two states east of the Mississippi where wilderness areas were protected by the 1964 Wilderness Act; New Hampshire was the other. And Shining Rock Wilderness was one of two wilderness areas in North Carolina protected by the first ever wilderness law, which signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Linville Gorge was the other North Carolina area protected in 1964.

Today Shining Rock Wilderness contains 18,483 acres. Without knowing it, popular culture exposed many to the area through the Charles Frazier novel and subsequent film adaptation titled Cold Mountain.  Cold Mountain provides Shining Rock’s highest peak at 6,030 feet.

Those wishing to venture to this wilderness area may want to read an account of camping in the area written by Bill Gowan of Raleigh. His writing can be found on the OurWildNC.org blog page, and is certainly worth a read!

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Upcoming Outings

June 21, 10:00 a.m. – Moses Cone Memorial Park – Blowing Rock

Join outings leader Steve Copulski for a 5 mile hike on the first day of summer  in the Moses Cone Memorial Park off the Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock.  Enjoy the cooler mountain weather and great views from the top of the Flat Top Tower.  The group will be hiking on fairly smooth carriage trails that gradually ascend to the top of Flat Top Mountain.  We’ll meet at Moses Cone at 10 AM. 

Contact Steve Copulsky to sign-up at scopulsky@mindspring.com or 704-543-7493.  Limited to 15 hikers.

June 21, 4:30 – 8:00 p.m. – Quarry Hike and Eat/Play at Sharky’s! – Durham

Join the Headwaters group for 3.2 mile moderate hike along the relatively new section of the Mountains To Sea/Laurel Ridge Trail, up and around the beautiful Durham Quarry, and back.  Wear closed-toe hiking or walking shoes and bring a water bottle for the hike.  For those who dare–swimmers and dippers–wear your bathing suit, bring your river shoes and a towel if you want to take a dip in the quarry or the river!  The quarry is DEEP water and appropriate for strong swimmers ONLY.  There are also spots along the river right beside quarry to get wet/dip your feet in.

There is likely to be a good bit of party-trash around the quarry so bring a bag if you are willing to help clean up a bit (leader will have extras, too).

For more information, contact Kelly Mieszkalski (kellymieszkalski@yahoo.com, 919.624.2225). You may also sign up via the group’s Meetup: http://www.meetup.com/NC-Sierra-Club-Headwaters-Group/events/189497522/

June 28,  8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. – NC Zoo Endangered Species Walk – Asheboro, NC

Join the Sierra Club Foothills Group and Nicole Petersen, a zoologist, marine scientist, and the NC Zoo’s Visitor Educator for our first NC Zoo Endangered Species Walk.  The zoo is about much more than showing off cute animals to the public—it has a serious environmental and conservation mission to protect, preserve, and rehabilitate threatened and endangered animal and plant species both in the U.S. and around the globe.

All participants will be required to purchase a zoo admission ticket.  There will be an additional $7/person fee for the Endangered Species Walk.  Our group will be limited to 20 participants. Your cell phone number will be required to register (this is for trip communication only–we do not give out telephone numbers to third parties.) 

Please contact Vance Parker to register by Wednesday, June 25th via e-mail at vance@vparkerlaw.com or by telephone before 10:00 p.m. at (336) 768-0481.  This is a family-friendly outing suitable for all ages.

August 22 – 24 – Outings Leader Training Weekend at Hanging Rock State Park

Outings Leader Training weekend for experienced and/or aspring new outings leaders at Hanging Rock State Park.  Cabin camping will be provided. You may also reserve campsites on your own.

More information coming soon!

Contact NC Chapter Outings Chair, Kelly Mieszkalski (kellymieszkalski@yahoo.com, 919.624.2225) with any questions.

Want to know the latest? Join us on Facebook or Twitter!

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Did you know you can make a monthly gift to the NC Sierra Club? Find out how you can make a sustaining gift by visiting our website, or contacting the Chapter office at 919-833-8467.

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Call (336) 671-1068 today to #PutSolar On It

Put Solar On It Save Money

If you live in Mecklenburg, Gaston, Union, or Cabarrus Counties you can get a free solar audit and find out if your home is ready for solar! Call the Solarize Charlotte preferred solar installer, the  Renewable Energy Design Group, l3c, at (336) 671-1068 today.

The sun’s energy is within your reach. Solarize Charlotte is your opportunity to take control of your energy bills by installing solar panels on your roof at up to 75% below retail cost. Solarize is a non-profit program that allows you and your neighbors to sign-up to have a certified, local installer inspect your home for solar suitability. The Solarize Model is endorsed by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Solarize Charlotte is a coalition effort to bring cleaner and cheaper electricity to communities in Mecklenburg, Gaston, Union, and Cabarrus Counties. We believe that solar is for everyone. We are working with local contractors, and streamlining the financing and installation process to make solar energy more accessible to homeowners in the Charlotte area.

Benefits of the Solarize program :

Info about 35% North Carolina income tax credit and 30% Federal tax credit for solar energy

Low interest loans with no money down financing

Rapid installation by certified installer

Free property assessments to determine solar suitability

Limited-time opportunity to participate in a program that is sweeping the state (sign up ends July 31st)

The sun’s energy is within your reach. Solarize Charlotte is your opportunity to take control of your energy bills by installing solar panels on your roof at up to 75% below retail cost. Solarize is a non-profit program that allows you and your neighbors to sign-up to have a certified, local installer inspect your home for solar suitability. The Solarize Model is endorsed by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Solarize Charlotte is a coalition effort to bring cleaner and cheaper electricity to communities in Mecklenburg, Gaston, Union, and Cabarrus Counties. We believe that solar is for everyone. We are working with local contractors, and streamlining the financing and installation process to make solar energy more accessible to homeowners in the Charlotte area.

 

Benefits of the Solarize program :

  • Info about 35% North Carolina income tax credit and 30% Federal tax credit for solar energy
  • Low interest loans with no money down financing
  • Rapid installation by certified installer
  • Free property assessments to determine solar suitability
  • Limited-time opportunity to participate in a program that is sweeping the state

- See more at: http://cleanerischeaper.com/#sthash.55bmggUF.dpuf

The sun’s energy is within your reach. Solarize Charlotte is your opportunity to take control of your energy bills by installing solar panels on your roof at up to 75% below retail cost. Solarize is a non-profit program that allows you and your neighbors to sign-up to have a certified, local installer inspect your home for solar suitability. The Solarize Model is endorsed by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Solarize Charlotte is a coalition effort to bring cleaner and cheaper electricity to communities in Mecklenburg, Gaston, Union, and Cabarrus Counties. We believe that solar is for everyone. We are working with local contractors, and streamlining the financing and installation process to make solar energy more accessible to homeowners in the Charlotte area.

 

Benefits of the Solarize program :

  • Info about 35% North Carolina income tax credit and 30% Federal tax credit for solar energy
  • Low interest loans with no money down financing
  • Rapid installation by certified installer
  • Free property assessments to determine solar suitability
  • Limited-time opportunity to participate in a program that is sweeping the state

- See more at: http://cleanerischeaper.com/#sthash.55bmggUF.dpuf

Solarize Charlotte SingleJoin hundreds of other homers in the area as we build to the National Day of Action on Solar Energy, June 21st,.

PutSolarOnIt

 

 

 

June 16 Webinar: Learn About the Newly-Proposed Carbon Pollution Limits for Existing Power Plants

Save the Date

Learn About the Newly-Proposed Carbon Pollution Limits for Existing Power Plants

We invite you to join us next Monday, June 16, at 1:00 PM ET for an exciting discussion.

Register Today! 

The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) continues its webinar series with a presentation on the newly-proposed carbon pollution limits for existing power plants. These webinars are your opportunity to learn about emerging environmental regulations, clean energy technologies, opportunities and issues that SACE engages in everyday.

On June 2, the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to release proposed standards for the first-ever limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants. These carbon pollution standards, under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act, will be designed to significantly reduce harmful carbon dioxide emissions from our electricity sector. This webinar will provide an introduction to the proposed 111(d) regulations, explain what this means for utilities and regulators in the Southeast, and how you and your organization can be involved in this rule-making process. This webinar follows our February webinar on the same topic, and will include analysis of the proposed regulations following their June 2 release.

To register, please visit our webinar sign-up page, and don’t forget to mark Monday, June 16, 2014, 1:00 p.m. ET on your calendar!


Title: Learn About the Newly-Proposed Carbon Pollution Limits for Existing Power Plants
Date: Monday, June 16, 2014
Time: 1:00 p.m. ET

 

“I don’t believe in climate change”

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The GOP lead climate change denial of “I don’t believe in Climate Change” has turned into “I’m no scientist”. Great video to watch and get pissed off. It’s time to hold climate change deniers accountable at the polls. Draw a line in the sand and speak out today!

New Video Turns Up the Heat on GOP Climate Change Deniers

In support of President Obama’s plan to cut carbon emissions, Americans United for Change released a video today calling out climate deniers in the GOP.

Not A Scientist features members of Congress, potential presidential candidates and Republican leaders—from Marco Rubio to John Boehner—all preaching from the same climate skeptic handbook and refusing to acknowledge the overwhelming scientific evidence that supports man-made climate change.

“The GOP’s new talking point when challenged on climate change is ‘I’m no scientist’, and yet they remain 100 percent certain as that 97 percent of the scientific community is pulling a fast one on us all for no explicable reason,” said Jeremy Funk of Americans United for Change. “Could it be because Big Oil and the pollution-profiting Koch brothers have given Republicans tens of millions of reasons to feign or maintain ignorance to the detriment of our environment, health and national security?”

While the Republican party maintains their ignorance, a new poll commissioned by Americans United for Change shows that crucial Independent voters are not sympathetic to this anti-science position, with only 29 percent open to supporting a climate skeptic in the 2016 presidential elections.

Source: http://ecowatch.com/2014/06/04/video-gop-climate-change-deniers/

EPA Carbon Standards Give Our Kids a Fighting Chance

EPA Carbon Standards Give Our Kids a Fighting Chance

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As dire warnings from climate scientists continue to escalate and what were once rare extreme weather events become increasingly common, we at the Sierra Club applaud today’s announcement from the Environmental Protection Agency outlining its proposed protections from dangerous carbon pollution from existing power plants. These standards won’t just take a big bite out of climate disruption, they’ll also help us tackle other serious power plant pollution that threatens our health, air and water – pollutants including soot, smog, and mercury.

I’ve been thinking about this news all weekend, and I keep coming back to one thing – this new standard gives my daughter, and all today’s kids, a fighting chance at a safe and promising future. We are the last generation of people who have the chance to turn the corner on climate disruption. I want my daughter and all kids to be able to breathe clean air and drink clean water, to enjoy snow days and fishing trips. I don’t want them to face more massive wildfires, droughts, superstorms, food insecurity, breakdowns in infrastructure, and all the other unthinkable outcomes that our climate crisis could bring. As parents, we all want a better life for our children, and we now have to stand together to deliver that for them.

For decades, dirty power plants have been allowed to dump unlimited amounts of carbon pollution into our air, making them our single biggest source of the pollution that’s pushing our climate to the brink. Right now air pollution is making our children sick and costing us billions of dollars every year. Some dirty and desperate polluting companies would like to keep it that way, which is why they’re spending big to try and stop these standards from getting across the finish line. We need to join together and make our voices heard in support of these new standards, which you can do right here.

These costs — to our health and our wallets — will only grow unless we act. Climate and weather disasters cost the US $100 billion in 2012 alone, according to the EPA, the second most expensive year in US history for natural disasters.

Curbing dangerous carbon pollution from power plants will save billions of dollars (up to $93 billion, to be exact) – but more than that, it will save lives. The new standard is poised to prevent up to 6,600 premature deaths and 150,000 asthma attacks in children. EPA’s new safeguards will also spur innovation and accelerate the clean energy economy to create good American jobs.
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That’s why the Sierra Club and our 2.4 million members and supporters stand with President Obama and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy’s in their action to cut harmful carbon pollution. We’ll do everything we can to ensure a strong and just standard to save lives, boost the clean energy economy, and help American families thrive.

I’ll write more in the coming days about the specifics of the standard, and how far it goes in moving the needle on climate change and air pollution. But big polluters are wasting no time in trying to stop these standards in their tracks, so let’s join together today and make one thing crystal clear – Americans want to turn the corner on climate disruption, we want safe air and water for our kids, and we want action now!

I encourage you to contact your governor and other elected officials. Urge them to support EPA’s carbon pollution standards for power plants and put strong state plans in place to implement the standards, to give our kids a fighting chance and a safe and promising future.

– Mary Anne Hitt, Director of the Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign

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Moral Monday on June 2 – Focus on Environmental and Health Justice

June 2 Moral Monday

We cannot stand idly by while this extremist General Assembly endangers thousands of North Carolinian lives by denying Medicaid expansion, restricting women’s health access and letting corporations pollute without consequence.

Join us this Monday, June 2 at Moral Monday as we raise our voices to protect the health of our state!

3 pm – Pre-rally meeting
Pullen Memorial Baptist Church
1801 Hillsborough St, Raleigh, NC

5 pm – Moral Monday Rally
Halifax Mall
Behind the General Assembly
16 West Jones St, Raleigh, NC

“Solarize Our City” – June 3rd

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I hope that you are enjoying the nice summer sun. I have some great news to share. Since our Earth Day launch, Solarize Charlotte supporters have continued to knock on doors, talk to community members at festivals and meetings across town, and get great media coverage.

It has been a huge success. We have over 200 homeowners signed up for free solar assessments. We have achieved our sign-up goal for the entire three month enrollment period in just one month. Thank you for all your hard work to help spread the word and sign up yourself.

Let’s keep the solar momentum going. Will you join us on Tuesday 6/3 to “Solarize Our City“?The “Solarize Our City” event will have two parts–first an opportunity to learn about the program from solar experts including our installer RED Group, Admirals Bank and an Accountant to cover tax credits. We will also have different outreaching opportunities for supporters to learn how you can help spread the word and make Solarize Charlotte the most successful program yet.

WHAT: “Solarize Our City”

WHEN: Tuesday, June 3rd from 5:30pm to 8pm
WHERE: International House in Plaza Midwood
(1817 Central Ave #215, Charlotte, NC 28205)
We hope that you will join us and make this event a great solar success.
For the power of the sun,
Hanna, Michael and Monica

 

PS: Don’t forget, Solarize Charlotte is a limited time offer and only available thru July 31st. Hurry and sign up today at CleanerisCheaper.com

Sierra Club and Solarize Charlotte – A Perfect Match

Our Wednesday monthly meeting drew a big crowd and lots of first timers. So glad that you joined us!

Special thanks to our presenters and panel members Steve Rundle, Solarize Charlotte Champion, Hanna Mitchell, Solarize Charlotte Outreach, and Jeff Redwine, Co-Founder of RED Group who provided some great information about solar installation and the Solarize Charlotte program.

Following the Q&A the attendees broke into 2 groups to brainstorm and plan events for getting the word out about Solarize Charlotte (photos by Renee Reese and Ahmer Inam).

For more information, to request a presentation, or to volunteer to be a Solarize Charlotte Champion, email Bill Gupton or Hanna Mitchell.

SC and SolChar Steve

SC and SolChar Jeff

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Click below to see and share the presentation!

Sierra Club and SolChar PresentationSierra Club and Solarize Charlotte Presentation

NC Sierra Club Speaks Out on Crazy Fracking and Regulatory Reform Legislation

North Carolina Chapter Sierra Club
Last week we saw a flurry of news hits and participation.
Here’s a look back.
The week started off with Foothills and Chapter Steering Committee member Gus Preschle getting a letter to the editor published in the Winston Salem Journal.
Your May 13 story “Foot traffic light for community meeting” was short and to the point. The writer states that foot traffic was largely nonexistent at Duke Energy’s community event in Eden. The three dozen smiling Duke Energy employees were probably wondering what it would take to get Duke Energy’s good name back.
Molly and Dustin were quoted in several news outlets on fracking.
North Carolina wants in on the fracking game (Washington Post) – But environmentalists say the legislature is reneging on a pledge it made in 2012 to allow the Mining and Energy Commission to establish a regulatory framework for horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. Dustin Chicurel-Bayard, a spokesman for North Carolina’s chapter of the Sierra Club, said the legislature should vote on whether to allow hydraulic fracturing after the commission’s rules are finalized.
 
Fracking: With drilling on horizon, opponents prepare for fight (Fayetteville Observer) – The North Carolina Sierra Club, which says fracking should not be allowed until the state has adopted adequate protections for ground water and drinking water, will use its political action committee to endorse candidates whom it views as friendly to the environment.
 
North Carolina Senate Passes Pro-Fracking Bill (Al Jazeera America) -This has left some North Carolinians confused. Why, they wonder, is the state’s Senate pushing so hard to lift a ban on gas drilling before its Mining and Energy Commission even has a chance to draft and receive comment on the rules that would regulate fracking in the state?  “In 2012 the Senate promised that the rules developed by the Mining and Energy Commission would be put in place before fracking was allowed,” said Dustin Chicurel-Bayard, the communications director of the North Carolina branch of the Sierra Club. 
 
Granting NC Fracking Permits in 2015 Has Senate OK (ABC 11) – Sierra Club appears in the ABC 11 video, not the AP story below.
 

The NC Chapter also contributed to a number of stories on the massive regulatory reform bill that started to move this week.

 
NC environmentalists worried by GOP-backed bill (AP) – Molly Diggins, the North Carolina director of the Sierra Club, said the group successfully fought a similar measure from becoming law in the state during the mid-1990s. A note on the ALEC webpage says the language was first approved by the organization’s board in 1996.  “This provision allows companies to hide information that may document knowing, intentional and ongoing violations,” Diggins said. “It gives companies the ability to avoid potential enforcement action, penalties and bad publicity. It would better be called the ‘environmental secrecy’ provision.”
NC Senate Pushes Forward Sweeping Regulatory Reform Bill (WUNC) – “There is the concern that removing the possibility of getting in trouble as long as they [industries or polluters] clean up, as long as they report it, will create questions as far as if best practices are going to be kept in place,” says David Chicurel-Bayard of the Sierra’s Club North Carolina Chapter.
Regulatory reform heads for Senate floor (WRAL) – One provision would allow regulated businesses to avoid civil fines or penalties for a leak or spill as long as they report it and correct it. Molly Diggins with the North Carolina Sierra Club says that’s a return to the 1990s, when regulatory enforcement was far more lax. As written, Diggins says, “It arguably would allow Duke Energy, if they did voluntary site cleanups and inspections, to have that information be confidential and to get blanket immunity from fines.”
Bill Would Restrict Permit Challenges (Coastal Review) – Molly Diggins, director of the N.C. chapter of the Sierra Club, said the changes would effectively prevent environmental groups and others from challenging permits issued to heavy industries, like Titan America. The company wants to build a controversial cement plant near Wilmington. It received a state air permit, but a coalition of groups, including the N.C. Coastal Federation, challenged the permit, claiming the company wasn’t reducing emissions to the levels required by federal law.  “The challenge to Titan could not have gone forward under this provision,” Diggins said.
 
Dustin Chicurel-Bayard
Communications Director, NC Sierra Club