14 Hours, 31 Minutes, and 15 Seconds of Daylight to Put Solar On It Today!

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June 19, 2014 at 6:51 today marked the Summer Solstice, the longest amount of daylight in the northern hemisphere, the day the sun reaches the farthest point north of the equator, the first day of summer. It’s a perfect day to sign up for a free solar energy evaluation for your home!

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)

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National Day of Action: We #PutSolarOnIt, You Should Too!

| June 19, 2014

Three years ago, my husband and I went solar. We were the first people in our historic town—the oldest town in West Virginia—to put solar panels on our home. It was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made, and it continues to have ripple effects that we never could have imagined back in the spring of 2011.

This Saturday, June 21, the Sierra Club is joining with allies around the country encouraging everyone to #PutSolarOnIt. We’re turning the Summer Solstice into a national day of action to rally for more solar power, which can turn our homes, schools, churches and businesses into home-grown solutions to climate disruption. If our story is any indication, every time we #PutSolarOnIt, we’re not only creating clean energy and reducing our electric bills, but we’re also unlocking creative new ideas and economic opportunity, even in the most unexpected places.

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After we put up our solar panels back in 2011, lots of neighbors started asking questions, and the local paper ran a front-page story about the project.

We held an open house and so many people attended that they were spilling out our back door. Since then, a half dozen of the families who attended have gone solar, and the town planner has taken to calling our block the “solar district” of our small town.

Now, one of our historic churches in town—Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church—is working on going solar, in what would be the largest crowd-funded solar project in West Virginia history. The project is poised to create a model that could allow nonprofits across West Virginia to go solar—check out the awesome new West Virginia non-profit Solar Holler and Solar Holler’s Dan Conant:

The Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church project is the first of what Conant hopes will be many projects across West Virginia that will allow nonprofits and governments to lower their electric bills by installing solar panels.

He said a number of other organizations, including libraries, schools and affordable housing groups, have approached Solar Holler asking for help.

“We wanted to make a program that was not just going to work in Shepherdstown or in other fairly well-to-do places across the state; we wanted to make a system that could work for any community, any county, and any organization in West Virginia so long as they’ve got community support,” Conant said.

Just think—all this started when one family decided to #PutSolarOnIt. Imagine what could happen in your community!

Join us in this push to #PutSolarOnIt! What do you want to put solar on? Imagine all the places solar could be. Share your ideas by commenting or adding your own photos on our Facebook page, and let us #PutSolarOnIt. We’ll post the winning entry Saturday, June 21. Bonus points if it’s funny and feasible!

Beyond June 21, connect with your local Sierra Club chapter to see how you can help get a program in your community and/or educate your neighbors about existing opportunities to get a share in community solar.

Sierra Club NC Chapter Legislative Update 06-20-14

Protect Enviro Democracy

Dear Friends,

This week the Senate reviewed the House budget and voted to disapprove the significant changes that were proposed by the House. That means that the budget bill, S 744, goes to conference and conferees from each chamber will negotiate the budget behind closed doors. They may or may not come to an agreement. The House debated two big regulatory reform bills that each contained a variety of proposals, having to do with everything from moles to tanning beds (more on these bills below). And the Senate walked their coal ash bill through three committees, generating lots of interest from the public and media.

The Senate’s Coal Ash Bill

As you may recall, the Governor’s coal ash bill (S 729), was filed by the Senate and the House early in the short session as a placeholder. This week the Senate presented a significantly revised version of the bill and it was voted through three Senate committees, picking up a few amendments along the way. The Governor’s plan did not have deadlines for coal ash clean up and did not direct how coal ash at ten of Duke Energy’s plants should be dealt with. The Senate took a major step forward by proposing an aggressive timetable for transition away from wet ash handling and setting fixed dates to close out all wet coal ash ponds. But, the Senate, like the Governor, identified the same four plants where ash would be removed to dry, lined storage away from waterways and did not add any of the other ten to the list. That means that though all ponds would be dewatered and closed, the ash could, in many circumstances, be left in place and covered.

S 729 sparked an in-depth discussion when presented by Senator Apodaca (R – Buncombe, Henderson, Transylvania) in the Senate Environment Committee this week. There was much debate on finding alternative uses for coal ash, including using it for concrete.A representative from Duke Energy said at the committee meeting that the bill’s timelines were too aggressive and asked the committee to give them another look.Sen. Apodaca closed the committee meeting by saying that he believes things get done faster with timelines and that he thought the ones in the bill were realistic. He should be thanked for sticking to his guns on an aggressive timeline despite pushback from Duke Energy. The bill will continue on to a vote by the full Senate next week.

Opportunity for Action

Please contact yourSenator and ask them to support a coal ash bill that requires removal of ash away from waterways at all sites, in addition to the four identified in the Senate bill.

Environmental Regulatory Reform

Good news this week – the House removed the environmental provisions from the Senate’s omnibus regulatory reform bill – S 734, and put some of the provisions in a new bill S 38 – but not the worst of the bunch. The following sections and quite a few other environmentally unfriendly provisions were removed:

  • a section that would allow polluters to self-report violations and thereby get immunity from DENR in some cases was removed;
  • a section that would require removal of all air quality monitors across the state that are not required by the EPA was removed; and
  • a section that would have allowed closure of dairy lagoons without pumping out the waste was also removed.

Unfortunately, a section that would decrease protections for wetlands made it through, but a much worse amendment to essentially eliminate protections for isolated wetlands was stopped. Representatives Samuelson and McGrady were key in improving this bill and defending isolated wetlands in committee and should be thanked. Representatives Ramsey, Insko and Waddell were influential in removing the bad dairy waste lagoon provision.

And, another small victory – but a big deal for aesthetics and trees – a provision that would have expanded tree-cutting around billboards and taken away local control to regulate old billboards was inserted into the new House regulatory reform bill but was successfully trashed thanks to an amendment by Rep. Carney (D- Mecklenburg).

Next week – we expect that the Senate will approve their coal ash bill, perhaps with some changes, and then send the bill to the House for review.

Thank you to the volunteer lobbyists who have continued to meet with and communicate with your legislators on the coal ash issue and other environmental issues this session – it really makes a difference!

Best regards,

Cassie Gavin, Director of Government Relations

Sierra Club – NC Chapter

Put Solar On It today!

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Rooftop solar energy has so many benefits and now it’s affordable and easy to have installed with Solarize Charlotte! 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 or sign up on line.

Spread the word. It’s time to Put Solar On It!

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EPA Public Hearing on Carbon Pollution – July 29th, ATL

Sign up today to attend this important EPA hearing! For additional details or questions, contact Zak Keith,  Lead Organizer
North Carolina Sierra Club, at zachary.keith@sierraclub.org or (321) 356-6603.

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Public Hearings: Clean Power Plan Proposed Rule

EPA will hold public hearings for the Clean Power Plan proposed rule. The hearings will provide interested parties the opportunity to present data, views or arguments concerning the proposed action.

Registration is only required for individuals who wish to present oral testimony; registration is not required to attend and listen to testimony at the public hearings.

July 29, 2014
Atlanta, Georgia

9:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. (EST)
Sam Nunn Atlanta Federal Center
Main Tower Bridge Conference Area, Conference Room B
61 Forsyth Street, SW
Atlanta, GA 30303
Information and directions to EPA’s Atlanta office
Register for the hearing

If you would like to preregister to speak at the hearing, please complete the form or contact Ms. Pamela Garrett by email: garrett.pamela@epa.gov; or by telephone: (919) 541-7966. You may also register in person on the day of the hearing, and will be accommodated as time allows.

 

Paddle to Clean Up Buck Coal Ash – June 25th

A new report from the Associated Press finds that carcinogenic chemicals may be leaking from unlined coal ash ponds at Duke Energy’s Buck Steam Station near Salisbury, North Carolina. Incredibly, as of today, the coal ash proposals from both Governor McCrory and the state Senate (Senate Bill 729)1 would allow Duke Energy to leave toxic coal ash in place at 10 of the 14 coal ash sites across North Carolina, including at Buck Steam Station. This is unacceptable!

Tell your state legislators to protect North Carolina communities by moving all of these toxic coal ash ponds away from our waterways!

North Carolina should clean up and move ALL of our leaking, toxic coal ash pits. Polluted coal ash isn’t just a future problem, it’s affecting real North Carolina families right now.

Join in this action to call for coal ash dump clean up across North Carolina!

Yadkin River Paddle to Buck Coal Plant June 25th at 8:30 AM
Join members from a coalition of environmental groups in a fun kayak and canoe event on the Yadkin River on June 25th at 8:30 AM.

This will be a short casual paddle of about 2 hours from the York Hill Access at the headwaters of High Rock Lake to the vicinity of Duke Energy’s Buck Electric Power Plant and coal ash ponds. There, those who choose to can link up their boats for a photo opportunity holding signs and banners promoting clean water and demanding action on coal ash ponds. Then we will explore nearby areas of the river and lake before returning to the launch area.Bring boats, Coast Guard approved Personal Flotation Devices, water and snacks. All participants on Sierra Club outings are required to sign a standard liability waiver.

This Buck Power Plant event is cosponsored by the Sierra Club, the Yadkin Riverkeeper, and other environmental organizations in the Piedmont Triad Beyond Coal coalition (see Facebook).

Contact Henry Fansler at hbjfansler@windstream.net or Gus Preschle at exploor@triad.rr.com for more information.

As a separate but coincident opportunity, boaters can sign on with the Dean Naujoks, Riverkeeper and paddle the 12 mile trip to the Tamarac Marina (see Yadkinriverkeeper.org for details).

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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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Matthews Mayor Jim Taylor: “We drink from the Catawba; we deserve clean water”

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A shout out and thanks to Matthews Mayor Jim Taylor for this excellent Op-ed in the Charlotte Observer!

We drink from the Catawba; we deserve clean water

Wednesday, Jun. 11, 2014

From Matthews Mayor Jim Taylor:

Gov. Pat McCrory recently proposed legislation that would require Duke Energy to move its polluting coal ash to safer storage away from our waterways at some of its power plants, including the Riverbend plant near Charlotte, but not from all of them. This will protect some communities, but Davidson, Cornelius, Huntersville, Matthews, Mint Hill, Pineville, Charlotte, Gastonia, Belmont, Mt. Holly and all of Mecklenburg and Lincoln Counties will still be at risk. Each of these communities draws drinking water from the Catawba River below the Marshall Steam Plant on Lake Norman.

Just upstream of Mecklenburg County, Duke Energy stores nearly a billion gallons of wet coal ash in an 80-acre unlined pit at the Marshall Steam Plant, directly on the banks of the Catawba River. North Carolina’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources has stated under oath in court filings that one or more of the dikes or berms for the lagoons at the Marshall facility are discharging through numerous unpermitted flows, leaks, and channels into the Catawba River.

Sampling of groundwater near the Marshall plant has found boron at levels 54 percent above state standards, iron at 237 percent above state standards, and manganese at 284 percent above state standards.

These coal ash dumps are always at risk of catastrophic failure, triggered by a flood, a tropical storm, or simply age and neglect. On the Dan River, an old storm-water pipe collapsed on a normal day. Duke Energy dumps its coal ash in outdated, unlined pits next to our rivers and drinking water, held back only by dikes made of soil that leak, and has had multiple dike breaks and failures at its coal ash lagoons across North Carolina in addition to the colossal spill on the Dan River this year. The EPA rates the dams at the Marshall plant as high hazard, meaning that a dam failure is likely to cause a loss of human life and devastating impacts to Lake Norman and the Catawba River.

Mecklenburg, Lincoln and Gaston County communities are all at risk of a Dan River catastrophe, which would have devastating consequences.

There is a simple solution. Duke can move this coal ash away from the Catawba River to safe, dry storage in a lined landfill, or recycle it to make concrete or other products. That is what the other two utilities in the Carolinas are doing, just across the border in South Carolina, without raising customer rates. Duke should take at least this step to protect our rivers and our drinking water.

Yet, Duke Energy has only indicated a willingness to remove coal ash from four of its 14 plants, including its Riverbend plant. The utility has refused to commit to moving its coal ash away from the Catawba River-Marshall site. Neither our state environmental agency nor McCrory has required Duke to do it. Our citizens deserve better. We must not allow Duke and the Governor to pick winners and losers. We all deserve clean water.

Ask Duke Energy and Gov. McCrory: Why won’t you do what is right for the entire Catawba River? And ask your legislator to protect your river and your drinking water if Duke Energy and the governor won’t do so. Tell them that our communities matter.

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2014/06/11/4970255/we-drink-from-the-catawba-we-deserve.html

Sierra Club NC Chapter – Special Legislative Update – Some Good Environmental News

Protect Enviro DemocracyDear Friends,

A mid-week legislative update is in order due to some good news on the House version of the budget. You may have heard that the Senate budget had some bad environmental provisions. We got most of our requests for changes to environmental aspects of the Senate budget (S 744) – in the revised House version, released today, thanks to Rep. Tom Murry from Cary, Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Natural & Economic Resources.  Representative Murry’s committee removed Senate proposals to put taxpayer funds towards fracking, and at the same time, increased funding for coal ash cleanup and stormwater pollution controls for our most polluted lakes (amongst other changes). The House and the Senate will need to agree on a final budget in the end, so we don’t know that all the improvements will be kept, but its great to see the House going in a positive direction.

Action Recommended:

Please thank Rep. Tom Murry (R – Wake) for his leadership on improving the budget on environmental issues by calling or sending an email, especially if he is your representative. Additionally, please ask your Senator to keep the House budget changes to environmental sections.

Fracking:

The Senate budget contained a provision that would have had taxpayers subsidizing the oil and gas industry by putting $100,000 towards marketing North Carolina’s small shale gas resource to an industry that has shown no interest so far. And $50,000 for an analysis of the chemical composition of our gas; and $973,000 for a no-bid contract – exempt from public contracting laws for test wells and core sample analysis in four parts of the state: the Dan, Davie, Cumberland-Marlboro, and southern Deep basins (click link to see map). Overall this idea seems to be an unnecessary gift to the oil and gas industry that taxpayers should not be shouldering. It was removed in the House version of the budget.

Water Quality:

A special provision in the House budget would add $1,000,000 to the Clean Water Management Trust Fund. If passed, the money would be used for the treatment of pollution before it enters the rivers and streams that are drinking water sources. Jordan Lake and Falls Lake are subject to Nutrient Management Strategies, so these funds may help the ongoing pollution problems in these two local water bodies.

Coal Ash:

The House increased funds for DENR salaries overall and increased funds for coal ash positions and operating funds by $500,000. Further, the House budget untied coal ash funding for DENR from the passage of S 729, the Governor’s Coal Ash Action Plan, so that even if the Senate’s bill were not to pass, DENR would still get funding to address North Carolina’s coal ash problem.

There were other improvements to certain provisions affecting agriculture, wells and coastal jetties. Overall, the House version of the budget is much improved from the Senate’s in terms of environmental issues.

Thank you,

Cassie Gavin, Director of Government Relations

Sierra Club – NC Chapter

cassie.gavin@sierraclub.org

Sierra Club NC Chapter Legislative Update – June 6

Protect Enviro Democracy

Dear Friends,

This week at the legislature the House took up the Senate budget (S 744) and began marathon meetings to craft their own budgetary proposals. The Senate took a bit of a break and then returned to Raleigh on Wednesday where they were greeted by nearly 80 coal ash lobbyists. Thank you to all the volunteer lobbyists who came to Raleigh to meet with legislators on coal ash lobby day! Lawmakers seemed pleased to have constituents visit and generally expressed support for a strong coal ash bill.

Opportunity for Action

Whether or not you were able to join us for coal ash lobby day – please follow up with your legislators; right now is the key time to make calls and send emails asking for a strong coal ash bill.

Senate Turns to Coal Ash Legislation

The Governor’s coal ash bill (S 729), which was filed by the Senate and the House as a placeholder, was discussed by a skeptical Senate committee on Thursday morning. Senators Tucker, Hartsell, Ford, Bryant, Walters, Rabin, McLaurin and Allran all asked tough questions of DENR Secretary Skvarla regarding a wide range of coal ash issues such as the potential for reuse in concrete, the cleanup timeline, DENR enforcement, pond closure prioritization and public notice. Senator Rabin (R – Harnett, Johnston, Lee) pressed for faster reporting of spills over the “no later than 24 hours” that would be required by the Governor’s bill. And Senator Tucker (R – Union) kicked off a committee discussion about the potential for reuse of ash in concrete; it turns out that North Carolina is actually a net importer of coal ash for that use.  There may be potential for reuse of at least some part of North Carolina’s coal ash.

The Governor’s coal ash plan is a first step in the right direction but is inadequate. The plan does not have deadlines for coal ash clean up and identifies only four of fourteen coal plants as sites where coal ash would be removed to lined storage. S 729 does not direct how coal ash at ten of Duke Energy’s plants should be dealt with, so it could be left in place, and continue to pollute groundwater if the bill, as currently written, were to become law. Some key areas that the Sierra Club asked the Senate to address in a revised bill are: the future of coal ash handling; dates certain for removal of ash and closures; and prioritizing and providing effective standards for the closure of all sites. A good coal ash bill should have a timetable, with fixed dates to close out all wet coal ash ponds and to remove ash to dry, lined storage away from our waterways.

As you may recall, Democrats proposed a strong coal ash clean up bill -H 1226 “Coal Ash Management Act”. But the Senate version of the bill was referred to the Rules Committee, usually where bills go to die. The House version was directed the the Committee on Public Utilities and Energy. Leadership determines what bills get calendared for committees – so the Democrats’ bill may not come to a vote.

Fracking and the Senate Budget

Yesterday, Governor McCrory signed S 786, which lifts the moratorium on the issuance of fracking permits in North Carolina. DENR will be able to issue permits as early as this time next year (after rules for the oil and gas industry go into effect). This summer there will be an opportunity to comment on the proposed rules at several public hearings – we will keep you updated on the dates and locations.

The Senate’s proposed budget would put $100,000 in taxpayer funds towards marketing North Carolina for fracking and $973,000 towards shale gas test wells and core sample analysis in the Dan, Davie, Cumberland-Marlboro, and southern Deep basins. Overall this seems like an unnecessary subsidy to the oil and gas industry. If the state is going to invest public funds in an energy sector – why not in solar and wind – given that North Carolina is known to have excellent resources in both?

Thanks again to all the Sierrans who came to the successful coal ash lobby day!

Best regards,

Cassie Gavin, Director of Government Relations

Sierra Club – NC Chapter

cassie.gavin@sierraclub.org

Residential Solar in North Carolina: What you need to know

You’re going to want to watch this one! If you have been thinking about installing solar on your home or want to help grow solar energy in the greater Charlotte area, take some time to watch and learn.

Residential Solar in North Carolina: What you need to know

The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) continues its webinar series with a presentation on residential solar in North Carolina. The presentation will provide valuable information on the options and tradeoffs for homeowners thinking about going solar in the Tar Heel state. It will also include overviews and insights into two Solarize Campaigns currently accelerating residential solar adoption for North Carolinians.

This webinar will be moderated by Charlie Coggeshall, Renewable Energy Manager for SACE.

Guest speakers include:
Jim Kennerly, North Carolina Solar Center (NCSC)
Jim will highlight the details and options that every customer interested in going solar needs to know, as he provides an overview of NCSC’s recent reports: Residential Customer Guide to Going Solar.

Katie Bray, Solarize Asheville
Katie will provide some background on the “Solarize” movement, and the successes and lessons learned with Solarize Asheville over the past year.

Jeff Redwine, Renewable Energy Design Group, L3C (RED Group)
Jeff will discuss why RED Group was selected as the solar contractor for Solarize Charlotte, and the status and outlook for that campaign.

This program was developed with support from Greenpeace, Sierra Club, and Solarize Charlotte.