Special Report: Duke Energy Coal Ash Controversy

Thanks to WCNC and Stuart Watson for these two great investigations into the Duke Energy Coal ash controversy. The latest installment aired this past Sunday. Be sure to watch and learn. Then share your outrage with your local NC elected officials.

Duke Coal Ash Report WCNC June 2014

 

Part 2 – FlashPOINT: A deeper look into the coal ash controversy

June 22, 2014. In this week’s special edition of FlashPOINT, NBC Charlotte I-Team Investigator, Stuart Watson, takes a deeper look into the coal ash controversy.

Part 1 – WCNC NBC Charlotte Coal Ash FlashPoint Special

Mar 2, 2014. NBC Charlotte’s Stuart Watson takes you deep into the Duke Energy Coal Ash spill in this 30-minute FlashPOINT special.

A Powerful Show: “Freedom Summer” on PBS

Nancy and I watched this last night. Wow! Double Wow!!

This is a powerful and sobering reminder of the courage and sacrifice needed to create change in the civil rights movement. What lessons can we learn, what spark of passion and commitment can be gained to apply to our work to protect our environment and our democracy today? Watch this and be moved…

Set your DVR for WTVI on Wednesday, June 25th at 9pm!

During the summer of 1964, the nation’s eyes were riveted on Mississippi. Over 10 memorable weeks known as Freedom Summer, more than 700 student volunteers joined with organizers and local African Americans in an historic effort to shatter the foundations of white supremacy in the nation’s most segregated state. Working together, they canvassed for voter registration, created Freedom Schools, and established the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, with the goal of challenging the segregationist state Democratic Party at the national convention in Atlantic City. The campaign was marked by sustained and deadly violence, including the notorious murders of three civil rights workers, countless beatings, the burning of 35 churches and the bombing of 70 homes and Freedom Houses.

Today at the Legislature: Tues June 24th

Belews Lake Coal Ash Banner

Dear Friends,

The Senate voted unanimously today in support of S 729, the Senate’s coal ash bill. The measure will be back on the floor for a third and final vote by the Senate tomorrow and then the bill will go to the House for consideration next week.

A number of amendments were offered on the floor.  Two modest but good amendments passed (one to encourage reuse of coal ash and one to require longer monitoring of coal ash structural fill sites). A third positive amendment offered by Senator Josh Stein (D – Wake) was withdrawn for further reworking but may be back on the floor tomorrow. And Senator Mike Woodard (D – Durham, Caswell, Person) offered an amendment to require Duke to pay for the full cost of all coal ash cleanup at all sites; his amendment was blocked by a procedural move and thus failed.

The real focus of the debate today, though, was on amendments offered by a number of senators seeking to have the coal ash sites in or near their districts added to the bill as priorities for full and clean closure.  Currently, of the 14 sites, only Asheville, Dan River, Sutton (Wilmington) and Riverbend (Charlotte) are listed by name in the bill as priorities for full and clean closure (excavation of ash and removal to lined storage).

All of the proposed amendments to add sites to the high priority list failed along party lines, but may drive further changes in the bill by focusing public attention on the sites not identified as priorities.

Please thank these Senators for offering amendments to have the coal ash sites in or near their districts named in the legislation as priority sites for clean-up and for their powerful words on the Senate floor:

Sen. Valerie Foushee (D- Orange, Chatham): Cape Fear (Moncure)
Sen. Gene McLaurin (D-Anson, Richmond, Rowan): Buck
Sen. Gene Jackson (D-Mecklenburg): Marshall
Sen. Terry Van Dyne (D-Buncombe): Cliffside

The coal ash bill may see more amendments tomorrow in the Senate during third reading, then the House will have its chance to debate the bill in committees.  The bill is slated to go to House Environment and then House Public Utilities Committees before it reaches the House floor – the bill could be finalized next week.

Best,
Cassie

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

June 28 Films: “Koch Brothers Exposed: 2014 Edition” and “State of Conflict: North Carolina”

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.”
— John Muir

“We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. And whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.”
— Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“The same people the Sierra Club is fighting for attacking clean energy and climate change protection laws are the same people who are trying to restrict voting. We know that to protect our environment we must protect our democracy.”
— Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club

Here’s an opportunity to see two really interesting films that tie into the Sierra Club’s Democracy Program. Please RSVP and thanks to the organizers of these events!

Koch Brothers 2014

Movie Party in Charlotte: America Has a Koch Problem

Host: Ann H.

Where: CM Independence Reg. Library Conference Room (in Charlotte)

When: Saturday, Jun. 28, at 2:00 p.m.

What: We’re getting together to watch Koch Brothers Exposed: 2014 Edition. This acclaimed new release pulls back the curtain on Charles and David Koch, yanking them out of the shadows and exposing them for what they are: a self-interested, ultraconservative demolition crew hell-bent on crushing the Affordable Care Act, Social Security, the Environmental Protection Agency, and so much more. Will you join us?

Please RSVP at Yes, I’ll be there!

State of Conflict

State of Conflict: North Carolina

Fellow Carolinian’s,

This may be the timeliest movie we have done considering the recent lifting of the fracking ban in our state. Some counties are planning to sue the state around stopping the process. Please see the attached flier and come out for this movie and a planning session afterwards considering what we in Charlotte might do.

Sacred Activist at Unity of Charlotte

Urge Speaker Tillis to Make Duke Energy Pay for Coal Ash Cleanup

NC WARN Coal Ash AdNC WARN Coal Ash Ad

Here’s an ad and announcement from NC WARN. Thanks to their work on this important issue!

NC WARN is using this full-page ad in print and online to generate support for NC House Speaker Thom Tillis to force Duke Energy shareholders to pay for cleanup of all the coal ash dumps.

A bill moving through the senate would allow Duke to charge electricity customers billions of dollars for its statewide coal ash fiasco – while requiring minimal cleanup.

As disgusting as the situation was just a few days ago, we’ve stolen back some momentum. The senate still hasn’t passed the bill. 

Attorney General Roy Cooper, the Charlotte Observer and the Raleigh News & Observer have now joined the call that Duke must pay to clean up all sites.

TAKE ACTION: Duke Shareholders must Pay to Clean up All Coal Ash Dumps!

Contact Speaker Tillis with a short email or phone call: Thom.Tillis@ncleg.net, 919-733-3451 (or click here to use our email tool and sample language).

 

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

The Fierce Urgency of Now! – June 23rd Moral Monday

A Mass Moral Monday Event will be held at the North Carolina General Assembly in Raleigh on Monday, June 23rd. This short video reveals what that event will be and why all North Carolinians should consider being a part of it.

Note: Sierra Club policy states that “Conservation actions may not include civil disobedience. No chapter, group, nor other Club entity shall encourage, request or direct any person to violate the law.” This information is provided so that individuals participating are aware of possible non-violent civil disobedience at the event.

The final Moral Monday of this summer takes place June 23, and the NAACP has issued a special call to clergy to be present in stoles or clerical collars.

The legislative short session is expected to end soon, so Monday’s rally provides one more chance for social justice advocates to come together and to make our voices heard before our elected officials.

Schedule for the afternoon:

Pre-Rally Meeting:
3 p.m.
Martin Street Baptist Church
1001 East Martin Street, Raleigh

Attendance at this meeting is critical for anyone planning to participate in non-violent civil disobedience.

Rally:
5 p.m.
Halifax Mall (Behind the General Assembly)
16 West Jones Street, Raleigh

Moral Monday June 23 2014

 

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!

 

Coal Ash Action Button - june.png

 

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.

wilderness collage.jpg

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

Karen & Rich  - convio 2.jpg

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.
Volunteer awards.jpg

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!

Shining rock footnotes.jpg

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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VA Line

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.

Money Flower

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Celebrating Wilderness!

When the NC Wilderness Act became law, Robbie Cox put away the slideshow that he toured the state with, making the case to protect our wild areas.  For 30 years, the slides sat in a black and yellow Kodak box gathering dust.
Until now.
The original slideshow has been digitized for today’s audience.  Robbie’s narration gives this presentation an authentic feel and takes the viewer back to the early 1980’s.
This is quite a long video.  24 minutes all together.  So grab some popcorn, put your feet up, and take a trip back in time as you watch the Original 1984 Wilderness Slideshow.