Urgent Action Alert – Please ask your House representative to vote to not concur on S 734

Hello Friends,

It may be the last day of the NC legislative short session and, as is tradition, a lengthy “regulatory reform” bill was passed by the Senate – S 734. The bill has a few good provisions but many bad provisions that are giveaways to regulated industry and bad news for the environment.  Please contact your House representative and ask them to vote to “not concur” on this bill (S 734) because of the negative environmental impacts.

Contact info for House members is here:

http://www.ncleg.net/gascripts/members/memberList.pl?sChamber=House

To determine who represents you go here:

http://www.ncleg.net/representation/WhoRepresentsMe.aspx

More info:

Renting out state parks to private interests:  Speed limit waiver in state parks and forests.  Allows any person to petition DENR to waive the standard 25 mph speed limit in a state park or forest for a special event.  This is the only obstacle to the Division of State Parks, for the first time, issuing a permit for exclusive use of the main attraction of a state park for private purposes (and specifically, for car races to the summit).  This measure was sought by political backers of Gov McCrory.

Weaken protection for wetlands:  Nearly eliminates protection for isolated wetlands in Eastern NC by raising the acreage threshold for when a permit must be sought to an acreage higher than the size of most isolated wetlands in eastern NC (1 acre). The threshold for eastern NC is currently 1/3 acre. Also reduces mitigation required for impacts to isolated wetlands statewide. Overall this provision is a negative for water quality – isolated wetlands are important for flood control, groundwater recharge and habitat.

There are several provisions that would negatively impact water quality at the coast, one that would make challenges to CAMA permits less effective by eliminating a stay on development when a legitimate claim is filed and another that would create a new exemption from coastal stormwater rules, essentially creating a windfall for certain properties but having a negative overall effect on water quality.

Thank you,

Cassie


Cassie Gavin, Director of Government Relations
Sierra Club – NC Chapter
cassie.gavin@sierraclub.org

 

Why wilderness?

Just two and a half weeks until the official 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. Join us for a celebration this month – Aug 27 – Join us for a 70th, 50th, 40th, 30th Anniversary Party! – and next month too – Save the Date! Sierra Club Wilderness Celebration, Sept 26-28.

September 3, 1964

Sierra Club Wilderness Celebration
Morrow Mountain State Park
Sept 26-28
We are planning a fun weekend full of outings, camping, picnics, presentations and more!
Save the Date! Sierra Club Wilderness Celebration, Sept 26-28

Sierra Club NC Chapter Wilderness Celebration website
Our Wild NC

Central Piedmont Group (Charlotte) Area Resources
Birkhead Wilderness – Uwharrie National Forest – Morrow Mountain State Park

Central Piedmont Group (Charlotte) 50th Wilderness Act
50 Years of Wilderness

Central Piedmont Group (Charlotte) North Carolina 30th Wilderness Act
30 Years of NC Wilderness

Celebrate wilderness
Aug 27 – Join us for a 70th, 50th, 40th, 30th Anniversary Party!
Host a house party and protect America’s special places!

Bonus
Happy 70th Birthday Smokey Bear! and Happy 40th Birthday Mecklenburg Park and Rec!

Test your science smarts. Get a free sticker.

Oh, the things people say…

True or False:

There’s “no global warming in North America.”

That's not science  Yes, that's science!

Okay, maybe that’s an easy one—that was Fox News inaccurately reporting the very real impacts we’re already seeing from global warming.

But it’s not far off from the ridiculous things people say about science. It’s up to us to tell science fact from science fiction. Can you spot it? Choose your answer to get started.

take the quiz, get a sticker

“Wind is such an unreliable source of electricity that coal plants are required to operate around the clock as backup for wind power.” —fossil-fuel funded front group ALEC

“Every major review of the scientific literature exonerates sugar as the cause of any disease, including obesity.” —The Sugar Association

More and more these days special interests go out of their way to spread misinformation and undermine science—and the truth isn’t always easy to see.

That’s why we want to make sure you can spot the difference between science fact and science fiction! Take our Got Science or Not Science quiz today and get a free “Got Science?” sticker.

The Union of Concerned Scientists and the Sierra Club have teamed up to fight back against those who mislead the public about climate change and other vital issues. We want to expose disinformation and corporate “counterfeit science” and help scientists to do real cutting-edge research free from political interference.

So…do you think you can spot the fake? We’ve gathered quotes about climate change, deforestation, even dragons! It’s up to you to determine whether each quote has got science or if it’s not science. Click here to take the quiz.

And once you’ve demystified the misinformation, feel free to show off your smarts to your friends and let them know how they can get a free “Got Science?” sticker too.

It’s really that simple: Take the quiz. Get the sticker. Tell your friends. Stand up for Science. Done.

It’s up to us to defend science and ensure that decisions about our health, safety, and environment are based on sound science—not corporate hype and disinformation.

Sincerely,
Your friends at the Union of Concerned Scientists and Sierra Club!

Moral Week of Action – Why You Should Be There!

Not sure why we need a Moral Week of Action – or why you should be there?

Watch the video below:

http://youtu.be/SUA-nDeJ8-o

Friday, August 22 – Thursday, Aug 28

Join us for seven consecutive days of action at the North Carolina State Capitol to expose and challenge the destructive laws coming out of Raleigh. Every day for one week, we will gather outside the offices of power and demand that Gov. Pat McCrory, House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate Leader Phil Berger repent and repeal their public policy attacks on North Carolinians’ civil and human rights. We are fighting for the type of democracy that places the common good at the center of public policy!

Each day we will emphasize several urgent issues, but all justice-loving people are encouraged to attend all the days. On the final day,Thursday, August 28, the 51st Anniversary of the March on Washington, we will hold a mass rally on Bicentennial Mall for voting rights and voter mobilization – the Vote Your Dreams, Not Your Fears Rally – at 5:30 pm.

Aug Moral Monday

Don’t forget to RSVP on Facebook!

Issues

Friday, 8.22 – Labor Rights, Fair and Living Wages, and Economic Justice

Saturday, 8.23 – Education and Criminal Justice

Sunday, 8.24 – Equal Protection under the Law: Call for Respect in the Law and in the Community regardless of race, creed, class, gender, sexual orientation and immigration status

Monday, 8.25 – Youth Moral Monday

Tuesday, 8.26 – Women’s Rights

Wednesday, 8.27 – Medicaid Expansion, Health Care and Environmental Justice

Thursday, 8.28 – Vote Your Dreams, Not Your Fears Mass Rally for Voting Rights

  ###

Forward Together, 

Not One Step Back!

Aug 27 – Join us for a 70th, 50th, 40th, 30th Anniversary Party!

This is a special year for NC and Charlotte outdoors!

Smokey 70th

This is the 70th anniversary of the Smokey Bear Wildfire campaignHappy 70th Birthday Smokey Bear! 

Wilderness 50

The 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act50 Years of Wilderness

40th anniv logo_485

The 40th anniversary of Char-Meck Park & RecHappy 40th Birthday Mecklenburg Park and Rec!

NC Wilderness Celebration

And the 30th anniversary of the NC Wilderness Act30 Years of NC Wilderness

Wow! Join us Wednesday, August 27th at 6:30 PM for a celebration with pizza and cake. The celebration will take place prior to our regular monthly meeting at the Mahlon Adams Pavilion in Freedom Park, 2435 Cumberland Ave., Charlotte, NC. Free parking is available.

First ever Charlotte 2014 Sustainability Report released

Perhaps this will push the City of Charlotte to FINALLY develop a Sustainability Plan! As the saying goes, If It Isn’t Written Down, It Doesn’t Exist – “A strategy you can’t write down is unlikely to be well-enough conceived or communicated to actually work.”

And special thanks to the Sustain Charlotte team for this great work!

Sustain Charlotte 2014 Report Card2014 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Sustainability Report Card

Announcement from Sustain Charlotte:

After more than a year of research, writing, and design, we’re proud to announce the public release of the 2014 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Sustainability Report Card: Scoring Our Economic, Environmental, and Social Health. The inaugural quantitative report card marks the first ever independently researched and written report that assesses the current health of the community using 57 metrics spanning nine issues.

Shannon Binns, Founder and Director of Sustain Charlotte was joined by Mecklenburg County Commissioner Pat Cotham, Charlotte City Council Member John Autry, and Mecklenburg County Manager Dena Diorio, all of whom spoke at the press conference held in Marshall Park on Tuesday morning. Charlotte City Council Members David Howard, Vi Lyles and Greg Phipps were also in attendance.

Using a robust methodology and years of data from a variety of sources, the authors have generated a report card for each issue and provided 94 recommendations for how Charlotte-Mecklenburg can accelerate progress. The nine issues assessed include: Air Quality, Energy Use, Equity + Empowerment, Food, Jobs + Income, Land Use, Transportation, Waste, and Water Use.

The report card is available for free public download at www.sustaincharlotte.org/ReportCard2014.

“We’ve taken an objective, quantitative approach to assessing our progress on the issues that affect the quality of life for today’s residents as well as those who come after us,” said Binns. “We hope our leaders as well as all residents who call Mecklenburg home will take our recommendations to heart, and make the choices we must make to ensure a vibrant future.”

And here’s a good summary of some key points from Ana McKenzie of Creative Loafing –   15 takeaways from Sustain Charlotte’s Sustainability Report Card.

Sept 4 – “Understanding the Climate Change Problem and Seeking Solutions”

Make plans to attend this timely and informative program!

Join the Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room and the Sierra Club Central Piedmont Group  as we welcome Dr. Jason West of UNC Chapel Hill. Dr. West will be presenting a lecture entitled, “Understanding the Climate Change Problem and Seeking Solutions” at the University City Regional Library, 301 East W.T. Harris Blvd, Charlotte, NC on Thursday, September 4th, from 6:00 until 8:30 PM.

Climate Change Solutions

 

Charlotte Powers Up With Solarize Charlotte!

Solarize Charlotte Single

Solar power for the masses reaches Charlotte

By Bruce Henderson
Sunday, Aug. 10, 2014

MORE INFORMATION: Solarize Charlotte

A three-month campaign to broaden the appeal of rooftop solar systems has declared success in its aim of making them cheaper and simpler for Charlotte-area homeowners.

Solarize Charlotte launched in the hometown of the nation’s largest electric utility, Duke Energy, in April. The volunteer-run program offered discounts on installations and connected homeowners to tax savings and low-interest loans.

“One of the issues we all recognized was that even as solar dropped in price, people saw barriers,” said project assistant Michael Zytkow. “So the goal is to help with everything involved.”

About 600 people expressed interest in the program, of which 186 solicited proposals for systems. Twenty-four homeowners signed installation contracts, six made verbal agreements and 10 contracts are pending. Another 89 projects are still in the consultation stages.

North Carolina ranks fourth-largest in the nation for its solar capacity, says the Solar Energy Industries Association, but that’s mostly because of commercial-scale installations.

Duke Energy says about 1,700 North Carolina customers, most of them affluent, own rooftop solar systems. Solarize Charlotte’s focus included lower-income and non-white homeowners.

Initiative moved east

“My philosophy is that solar should be for everyone,” said Zytkow, whose full-time job is as a Greenpeace field organizer. “My background of activism is in meeting people where they are.”

Solarize Charlotte was an outgrowth of an initiative born in Portland, Ore., five years ago and adopted by dozens of communities under Energy Department-funded guidelines.

A coalition of more than 20 nonprofit advocacy groups and churches brought it to North Carolina. Similar programs have launched in Asheville, Carrboro and Durham.

The Charlotte campaign worked with a solar company, the RED Group, that offered bulk discounts on installations. State and federal tax credits pare the cost, and the program led homeowners to low-interest loans.

Cut cost of systems

All told, organizers say, those incentives could take up to 75 percent off the retail price of a solar system. Typical Solarize systems, including tax credits, cost about $4,500 to $8,000.

Solar panel prices have dropped sharply in recent years, and the arrays are now thinner and more aesthetically pleasing. The expiration of North Carolina’s 35 percent tax credit at the end of 2015 has also stimulated interest.

Still, “it takes a lot of consumer education to get people to the point where they’re ready to go solar,” said Cynthia Redwine, a partner in RED Group, a 2-year-old company formed by former Peace Corps volunteers.

Some potential customers, for instance, believe that net metering – in which utilities give homeowners with solar systems credit for the energy they generate – means they have to live off the grid, she said.

Starting in late April, Solarize volunteers went door-to-door, bought radio ads, staffed festival booths and made presentations to homeowners associations, clubs and churches.

Savings biggest factor

The campaigners pitched the environmental and economic aspects of solar power, but found most people responded to rising electricity rates.

“At the end of the day, that’s what resonates with people – their power bills,” Zytkow said. “One of the first things you hear out there is the idea of these (utility) monopolies. They’re captive customers, and they don’t have any options. A lot of it is rallying around the concept of choice.”

Charlotte homeowner Terry Taylor-Allen, a communications consultant on energy, environment and sustainability, heard about Solarize at a conference and quickly signed up.

Taylor-Allen and her husband, Mark Allen, had considered solar for years but hesitated at trying to sort through its technological aspects and financial viability.

“The very nice thing about Solarize Charlotte is that they sort of anticipate those wrap-around needs and solved those problems,” she said. “From that perspective, it’s a really, really good program. It facilitates a lot of decision- making.”

Their rooftop panels started generating electricity July 14.

Tell the EPA to Stop Our Forests from Going Up in Smoke

Thanks to Adam Macon, Campaign Director, Our Forests Aren’t Fuel, at the Dogwood Alliance for providing this action alert.

Hi friends,

Right now, utilities in the U.S. are lining up to burn trees for electricity, releasing dangerous carbon pollution into the air and devastating hundreds of thousands of acres of Southern forests.

The science is clear: when power plants chop down our forests and burn them for electricity, it’s even dirtier than burning coal.

Protect our forests. Tell the EPA to stop our forests from going up in smoke.


Protect our forests from going up in smoke.

Burning our forests for fuel contributes heavily to climate change, and it also destroys one of our best tools to fight it: the trees that help absorb carbon emissions.

The EPA promised to analyze the climate impacts of burning trees and other organic matter for energy three years ago, and it took a lawsuit by us and our allies to force them to follow through.

We knew our science was right. The EPA’s own panel of science experts agreed and has told the agency to account for carbon pollution from utilities that burn trees.

But we’re still waiting on these rules. Tell the EPA to follow the science and protect our forests.

With the new rules from the EPA on carbon emissions, we’re getting closer to curbing carbon pollution. But we can’t let false solutions to climate change like fracking and biomass get a free pass, ignoring how dirty and unsustainable it is to burn our trees.

For our forests and communities,

Adam Macon

Thank you WFAE Ben Bradford

I’ve been meaning to share this WFAE announcement. It’s great to have a public radio station with such strong commitment to coverage of environmental issues and a history of very good reporters. Congratulations Ben and keep up the excellent work!

Ben Bradford Wins National Murrow Award
The Radio Television Digital News Association recognized Ben Bradford, news reporter, with a national Edward R. Murrow award in the Hard News Reporting category for Moral Mondays. This is the station’s fourth national Murrow Award. This winning entry follows one day’s protest from start to finish, its initial organization at a church, the gathering of 1,200 in front of the state capitol in Raleigh, and the arrests of about 80 for civil disobedience inside. Bradford joined WFAE in 2012. His coverage at the station has included the coal ash spill on the Dan River, a three-part series on North Carolina and climate change, the arrest of former Charlotte mayor Patrick Cannon. This is his first national Murrow Award.