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

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Forward Together, 

Not One Step Back!

Webinar: Understanding American Values on Climate

Looks like a very good webinar. Make plans to participate. Click here to sign-up.

The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) is pleased to announce that Southeast Coastal Climate Network’s (SECCN) webinar series will continue with a presentation about Americans’ values on climate change. These webinars are your opportunity to learn about climate and energy issues that SECCN engages in everyday.

Join us for this webinar as we talk with Bob Perkowitz, Founder and President of ecoAmerica, to discuss ecoAmerica’s latest research, American Climate Values 2014. This research details how Americans think, feel and react to climate and environmental issues, and uses a sophisticated, psychographic-based, research methodology to draw insights on how to effectively engage Americans on climate solutions.

Understanding American Values on Climate: Practical Applications for Public Engagement on Climate Solutions
Friday, August 15, 2014 2:00 – 3:00 PM

Click here to sign-up

Duke Energy Coal Ash Numbers

The following is a re-post from a NC Policy Watch article on 8/4/2014 by Chris Fitzsimon.

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183—number of days since a massive coal ash spill at an abandoned Duke Energy power plant near Eden contaminated the Dan River with 39,000 tons of toxic coal ash and 24 million gallons of ash-contaminated wastewater (Appalachian Voices)

33—number of unlined coal ash pits that Duke Energy has at 14 sites throughout North Carolina (Associated Press: “NC House approves Duke coal ash cleanup bill” – July 3, 2014)

100—percentage of these sites that are currently leaching contaminants into surrounding soil and groundwater (“Unlined and Dangerous: Duke Energy’s 32 Coal Ash Ponds in North Carolina Pose a Threat to Groundwater” National Geographic, March 5, 2014)

100—number of days since Governor Pat McCrory proposed a “coal ash action plan” and called on legislative leaders to work with him to enact it (“Governor McCrory Outlines Comprehensive Coal Ash Action Plan,” Press Release, Office of the Governor, April 16, 2014)

88—number of days since Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said responding to the coal ash spill was one of the top priorities for the 2014 General Assembly session  (“Berger: Drilling, easing regulations, teacher pay on NC Legislature’s to-do list, News & Observer, May 14, 2014)

82—number of days since House Speaker Thom Tillis said coal ash legislation was a top priority for the 2014 General Assembly session (“Speaker sets legislative agenda for state House, WRAL-TV, May 14, 2014)

82—number of days since the 2014 session of the General Assembly session began (N.C. General Assembly)

2—number of days since the General Assembly concluded work in its summer session, with the House recessing until August 14 and the Senate returning November 17 (Ibid)

0—number of bills addressing the coals ash crisis passed by the General Assembly since lawmakers convened for the summer session May 14 (Ibid)

3—number of days since members of the Senate blamed House negotiators for failing to reach a final agreement on coal ash legislation (“N.C. legislature puts coal ash action on hold, Greensboro News & Record, August 2, 2014)

3—number of days since members of the House blamed Senate negotiators for failing to reach a final agreement on coal ash legislation (Ibid)

3—number of days since Governor Pat McCrory issued an executive order calling for cleanup plans at leaking coal ash ponds and surveys at area drinking wells (Ibid)

3—number of days since environmentalists pointed out that McCrory’s executive order merely restates authority state already has under existing law (Ibid)

10—number of registered lobbyists Duke Energy employs in North Carolina state government in 2014 (N.C. Secretary of State Lobbyist registration website)

1.6 million—amount in dollars of combined political contributions from Duke Energy to the campaign committees of Governor McCrory since 2008 and the outside political groups that helped his gubernatorial campaigns (“As Coal Ash Controversy Intensified, Duke Gave Another $437,000 to Help GOP Causes in 2013,” Democracy North Carolina, February 14, 2014)

28—number of years McCrory worked for Duke prior to his election in 2012 (“Institute Index: Duke Energy coal ash spill latest in ongoing regulatory disaster,” Institute for Southern Studies)

Hand Image: Appalachian Voices

NC Sierra Club Legislative Report August 2, 2014

Protect Enviro Democracy

Dear Friends,

This was a rollercoaster of a week in the General Assembly as is often the case the last week of session.  The catch is, lawmakers plan to return in just a few weeks and again in November before really adjourning the 2013 “short” session. Although the House and Senate came to agreement on a budget, some major decisions are left on the table, including a coal ash bill and a Medicaid bill.

Update on the coal ash bill:

You may recall that the Senate voted to not concur on the coal ash bill (S729) after it was revised and passed by the House. Therefore, the following conferees were appointed to negotiate a final bill:

From the Senate: Senators Berger (R – Guilford, Rockingham), Wade (R – Guilford) and Apodaca (R – Buncombe, Henderson, Transylvania)

From the House: Representatives McGrady (R – Henderson), Samuelson (R – Mecklenburg), Hager (R – Burke, Rutherford) and Glazier (D – Cumberland).

These conferees worked to negotiate the details of a final bill, but were unable to reach agreement. The Senate conferees plus Rep. Hager, a former Duke Energy employee, agreed on a Senate revision of the bill – the details of which are unknown. Separately, three House conferees came to agreement on a House revision of the bill. The House revision includes language to disallow capping in place if coal ash is proven to be in contact with the water table – to protect against groundwater contamination.  Coal ash is contaminating groundwater around all 33 coal ash ponds and, in some cases, nearby drinking water wells. One of the primary objectives of any coal ash legislation should be to put a stop to this. It appears that the Senate would not agree to the House water quality proposal, amongst others – and that is what resulted in an impasse.  Thursday night the Senate threatened to pass the House bill without any changes from the conference committee – but that would have meant not getting the changes championed by Senator Apodaca – including revision of the variance procedure and changing the placement of the new Coal Ash Management Commission away from DENR.  It appears that the Senate and House will continue to negotiate the coal ash bill; the adjournment resolution listed it as a bill that will be taken up in November session – but the resolution could be amended to allow for it to be considered in August.

Opportunity for Action:

Please thank Representatives McGrady, Samuelson and Glazier for pressing for stronger groundwater protections in the coal ash bill. And urge them to continue to strive for this in any coal ash legislation that is passed.

Legislation Passed in the Final(ish) Week of Session:

The budget – H 744

The Senate’s budget proposal had a number of concerning things in it related to fracking. For example – the Senate wished to allocate public funds for exploratory wells and for advertising North Carolina for fracking. The fracking funds were thankfully removed by the House and stayed out of the final budget.  And, although the Clean Water Management Trust Fund didn’t get the hoped-for amount of conservation funding, there was a new allocation to the Fund for $500,000 to go towards local projects to reduce stormwater pollution into some of the state’s most polluted lakes. Representative Tom Murry (R- Wake) and Senator Tamara Barringer (R- Wake) played key roles in creating this new funding stream that could help reduce pollution flowing into Jordan Lake, Falls Lake and other drinking water reservoirs that have nutrient overload problems. This is the kind of forward-looking measure that the legislature should look to instead of delaying clean up rules and leasing water mixers for Jordan Lake that cannot physically prevent pollution. The House had proposed $10 million for land conservation but the final budget instead includes only earmarks up to $3 million in for one particular park acquisition which is somewhat disappointing.  Please thank Representative Murry and Senator Barringer for their efforts to put some funding towards pollution prevention in a difficult  budget year.

A bill to replace riparian buffer rules with new industry-approved rules:

S 883 “Disapprove/Amend Buffer Rules” strikes a list of environmental rules created to protect water quality that were only recently adopted in favor of different rules that were developed by an industry stakeholder group. The existing buffer rules resulted from a lengthy stakeholder negotiation process in which environmental groups were involved while the proposed rules were created by a separate stakeholder group that did not include environmental groups. Overall this bill seems to be based on a flawed process and to benefit mitigation bankers at the expense of water quality. Governor McCrory immediately signed this bill into law.

A bill that will create a new exemption to public records law to shield agricultural operations:

H 366, the Farm Act, which passed today, contains a provision creating a new unnecessary exemption to state public records law. The bill says that complaints about agricultural operations will be kept secret unless and until DENR decides that there was a violation. This means that citizen complaints that alert DENR to environmental problems will not be able to be discovered by a public records request unless it turns out that the complaint led to a violation. Making unwarranted or frivolous complaints is already a crime – so there is no need to create special carve outs from public records laws which are meant to improve government transparency.

And Legislation that we wish was dead but may return in August or November:

A bill that would limit the ability of local governments to fund public transportation

H 1224 “Local Sales Tax for Education/Econ Dev Changes” stalled this week in the House. It would cap the total sales tax a county may levy at a rate that presents problems for Triangle communities that have plans to create a regional transit system. H 1224 passed the Senate but then rather than pass it, the House referred the bill to the House Rules Committee for further consideration (or perhaps to die).

Three regulatory reform bills that contain a variety of bad environmental provisions:

H 761, S 734 “ and S 38 are all so-called “regulatory reform” bills that contain a variety of changes and updates to laws, some innocuous and some provisions that when added up look like a polluter’s wishlist. Some of the sections Sierra Club opposed include: requiring removal of air quality monitors, making citizen environmental suits on air quality more difficult, reducing permitting requirements for building in coastal wetlands, and reducing protections for isolated wetlands. Nearly all of the undesirable environmental provisions were added into these bills by the Senate, but yet the Senate did not vote on them.  The adjournment resolution passed by the House identifies certain bills that may be addressed on August 14th – and these regulatory reform bills are on the list. We are hopeful that these bills do not go forward – or if they do – we hope that the worst environmental provisions do not stay in.

Thank you for taking action,

Best,

Cassie Gavin, Director of Government Relations

Sierra Club – NC Chapter

cassie.gavin@sierraclub.org

Sierra Club NC Chapter Legislative Update – July 25, 2014

Dear Friends,

This was somewhat of a slower week in the General Assembly as most House members did not come to Raleigh until Thursday and the Senate had a light committee schedule. Lawmakers took a break from testy budget negotiations so the drama between the House and Senate (which have vastly different budget proposals) died down compared to previous weeks. All negotiations – and associated rancor between the chambers – is likely to start back up next week.
Update on the coal ash bill: 
You may recall that last week the Senate voted to not concur on the coal ash bill – S 729 – which means that House and Senate conferees will privately negotiate a final bill. Senate conferees were appointed last week; they are: Senators Berger (R – Guilford, Rockingham), Wade (R – Guilford) and Apodaca (R – Buncombe, Henderson, Transylvania). House conferees were appointed this week and they are: Representatives McGrady (R – Henderson), Samuelson (R – Mecklenburg), Hager (R – Burke, Rutherford) and Glazier (D – Cumberland).  These conferees will negotiate the details of the final bill, sign a conference report, and then the conference report will go back to each chamber for approval.
Opportunity for Action:
As you may recall, the coal ash bill still lacks assurances that groundwater will be protected from coal ash pollution at all sites. Please contact the conferees and ask them to ensure that any closure method Duke Energy is allowed to use is protective of groundwater.
The legislature targets water quality and energy efficiency standards:
Today the legislature passed House Bill 201 “Building Reutilization for Economic Development Act” – chipping away at stormwater management and energy efficiency standards. Last week, the Senate Rules Committee introduced a revised and renamed bill from the 2013 session with four new pages of exemptions for commercial redevelopment projects from:
- energy efficiency standards in the NC Building Code Energy Code;
- stormwater rules to prevent runoff of pollution during rain; and
- the NC Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) – which requires preparation of a report disclosing environmental impacts for projects that receive public funds.
Next H 201 goes to Governor McCrory for signature to become law. The result of this bill will be that some commercial buildings will be allowed to be built 30% less energy efficient, get exemptions from stormwater rules and exemptions from the NC Environmental Policy Act (SEPA). While weakened standards may be attractive to some developers, this bill represents an overall loss to the public in terms of energy savings, water quality and knowledge about the environmental impacts of publicly funded projects. Taxpayers deserve to know if projects that have an element of public funding are impacting the environment. Further, it’s crucial that new construction be held to current efficiency standards to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.
Thursday, H 201 was the focus of a debate in the House. Representatives Luebke (D – Durham), McGrady (R – Henderson), Glazier (D – Cumberland), and G. Martin (D – Wake) expressed concerns about the substance of the bill and the way new sections were added by the Senate just last week – with no time for House members to consider the impacts. Representative G. Martin made a motion for the bill to be sent to House Environment Committee where it could be properly vetted by House members – but his motion was tabled (a procedural move to avoid taking a vote). We asked House members not to concur on this bill – but a majority of the House did so – and so the bill passed 66-42. Please thank the members who spoke up against this bill and those who voted against it.
The Senate aims to replace riparian buffer rules: 
S 883 “Disapprove/Amend Buffer Rules” would strike a list of environmental rules created to protect water quality that were only recently adopted in favor of different rules that were developed by an industry stakeholder group. This bill passed the Senate this week and was referred by the House to the Environment Subcommittee of the Committee on Regulatory Reform for review. The existing buffer rules resulted from a lengthy stakeholder negotiation process in which environmental groups were involved while the proposed rules were created by a separate stakeholder group that did not include environmental groups. Overall this bill seems to be based on a flawed process and to benefit mitigation bankers at the expense of water quality.
And the Senate may not not share Triangle residents’ regional transit dreams: 
The Senate passed H 1224 “Local Sales Tax for Education/Econ Dev Changes” this week to cap the total sales tax a county may levy. Last week’s version of H 1224 would have disallowed counties from using local sales tax revenues to fund both public education and public transit (strangely forcing a choice between the two). Thankfully, the bill was amended this week to fix that problem. Unfortunately the sales tax cap still presents problems for Triangle communities that have plans to create a regional transit system. H 1224 was referred to the House Finance Committee for further consideration.
Thank you for your dedication and advocacy!
Best,
Cassie Gavin, Director of Government Relations

Sierra Club – NC Chapter

Protect Our Democracy: Important Mecklenburg Elections Board meeting July 29

The following is an action alert from Democracy North Carolina about an upcoming meeting to determine our fall voting schedule. Please support.

Protect Enviro Democracy

Dear Mecklenburg County Supporters,

There will be an important meeting of the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections Tuesday, July 29, at noon at the Board of Elections office located at 741 Kenilworth Ave. in Charlotte. We need you there!

Throughout June and July, advocates have been attending county meetings all over the state and making a huge difference! The 3-member board (2 Republicans and 1 Democrat) will be discussing Mecklenburg County’s early voting plan for the November election. The public can attend the meeting and comment about potential locations for early voting sites, evening and weekend voting hours, and more.

From October 23 to November 1, 2014, Mecklenburg County is required by law to open enough voting sites and hours to total up to at least 1,475 hours of early voting (based on what it provided in 2010). The only way the county can provide less time is to get a “waiver” from the State Board of Elections which requires a unanimous vote by every member of both the county and state elections boards.

Democracy North Carolina encourages local advocates to push for strong early voting plans, including hours on both Saturdays at all the early voting locations and possibly on Sunday, too, if you have support of a board member. Evening hours also allow people to vote after the work day.

Click here for a guide to learn more about early voting plans.

Show up and show your support for a strong early voting plan for your county!

Onward,

Robert Dawkins

Western NC Organizer

Democracy North Carolina

Early Voting PlanEarly Voting Advocacy

July 23rd Monthly Meeting: Outdoor Treasures of Mecklenburg County

Outdoor Treasures

Please join us on Wednesday July 23rd for a presentation on the Outdoor Treasures of Mecklenburg County.

Stephen Hutchinson, Nature Center Manager at Latta Plantation, will present on the abundant resources of Mecklenburg Parks and Recreation Department. You will be delighted to learn about such great opportunities as kayak tours, canoe rentals, horseback riding, tractor drawn hay rides, cowboy style campfire dinners, Segway adventure tours, GPS treasure hunts, hiking, camping, and more – all nearby.

As usual our meeting is at the Mahlon Adams Pavilion in Freedom Park. It begins at 6:30pm with free pizza, followed by a short business meeting, and then the formal presentation.

Parking is free. All are welcome. We look forward to seeing you.