Friday, Aug 22 deadline: Submit comments on proposed NC water quality rules – Triennial Review

DENR-triennialreview2-244x300

Because heavy metals like selenium do this…

Coal Ash Fish Pollution Impact

Figure 5. Abnormal bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus, top) from Lake Sutton (second collection batch) showing multiple defects of the mouth (which is permanently distended and less than 20% of its normal size) and other craniofacial structures including “gaping” distorted, permanently deformed gill cover. Bottom individual is normal.

Submit comments on proposed water quality rules – Triennial Review

NC regulators must conduct a Triennial Review of Water Quality Standards as required by the Federal Clean Water Act this year. North Carolina has not adopted revised water quality rules in the previous Triennial cycle. NC DENR has now proposed revisions to water quality rules as required by the Clean Water Act, and public comments are accepted through August 22.

North Carolina is also the only state in the Southeast so far not to adopt the nationally recommended criteria for concentrations of heavy metals in our water. Heavy metals can occur naturally, but when introduced in mass amounts due to unchecked industrial waste, it affects our health and our environment.

Triennial Review Information

The federal Clean Water Act requires states to “hold public hearings for the purpose of reviewing applicable water quality standards and, as appropriate, modifying and adopting standards” at least once every three years. NC last held such a public hearing to update its water quality protections in July 2006. The current hearing is four years overdue. NC lags behind neighboring states in adopting standards that meet the National Recommended Water Quality Criteria and that incorporate the best available science. The EPA has the authority to promulgate regulations to protect NC’s water if NC does not do so itself. Clean water and a healthy environment are vitally important to all North Carolinians – for their health, property values, recreational and business opportunities, etc. NC should not weaken any standards, but should retain its current water quality standards and strengthen them as described below.
Click on one of the sections to find more information about each subject.

Public Comment Period:
2014-06-14 thru 2014-08-22

Submit Comments Electronically:
DWR-Classifications-Standards@ncdenr.gov

Mail Comments To:
DENR/Division of Water Resources/Water Planning Section,
1611 Mail Service Center,
Raleigh, NC 27699-1611

For more information, see http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/wq/rules

 

Water Quality Links and Lists:

This is where you can subscribe to the TMDL and Water Quality Assessment mailing list: http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/wq/ps/mt/unitinfo#Mailing

DENR’s Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs lists events, activities, and workshops for all ages in a searchable database here: http://web.eenorthcarolina.org/core/event/calendar.aspx?show=list&s=0.0.108.37430.  Or, they can be viewed in a searchable calendar format here: http://web.eenorthcarolina.org/core/event/calendar.aspx.

The Stormwater Outreach and Education Listserv is frequently used to announce speaker events and workshops relevant to water quality. Here is a link to the subscription page: https://lists.ncmail.net/mailman/listinfo/stormwater.outreachandeducation.

Charlotte Interfaith Call for Action on Climate Change – Sept 9th Citizen Hearing

“We have a moral obligation to future generations to leave our land, water and wildlife better than we found it.”

~ Sally Jewell, U.S. Secretary of the Interior

from Dealing with Climate Change: A Moral Obligation

Calling all Charlotte area clergy and lay leaders!

We need your voice and that of your congregants for an important Citizen’s Climate Hearing on September 9th at Myers Park Baptist Church. 

The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan is a historic measure calling for strong carbon pollution reductions to combat the worst effects of climate disruption. Now in the public comment period, the EPA needs to hear from concerned citizens that want strong protections from carbon pollution. This is a critical moment for North Carolinians to make sure our voice is heard. Citizens from across NC will gather at Myers Park Baptist Church to give oral testimony, which will be recorded and submitted as official comments to the EPA. Join us as we call on the EPA to take swift and strong action on climate for North Carolina.

For additional information or questions, contact Bill Gupton or Renee Reese.

Sept 9 Interfaith Call to Action on Climate Change 2Charlotte Interfaith Call for Action on Climate Change

To learn more about the issues and solutions, plan to attend this September 4th  program at the University City Regional Library!

Sept 4 Climate Change Program FlyerSept 4 Climate Change Flyer

 

An American Moment – The People’s Climate March, Sept 21st, NYC

Coming Clean Mike Brune Blog

An American Moment

Michael Brune Follow me on Twitter and Facebook. View my blog.

You might want to save this date: September 21. Here’s why.

Activists working to address the climate crisis have been cautiously cheering President Obama this year — for telegraphing that he’s likely to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and for the Clean Power Plan, an important set of standards that his Environmental Protection Agency has proposed for cutting carbon pollution from existing coal-fired power plants.

Yet as scientists know, as polar bears know, and as people who’ve experienced extreme weather know, the nation and the world are still moving too slowly to avert climate disaster.

The drumbeat for urgency is growing, however, and it’s not just coming from the tree-hugging contingent. Last week, former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, retired hedge fund manager Tom Steyer, former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, and other leaders known for keeping an eye on bottom lines released a report called “Risky Business.” It makes a sobering case for why the nation cannot afford the economic costs of climate change.

The amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere has already reached levels not seen since long before we even evolved. The human suffering that results may be incalculable, but the economic consequences are not. The International Energy Agency has estimated that for every year the world delays taking significant action to curb climate change, we will have to spend an additional $500 billion down the road.

At a Senate hearing that many Republicans hoped would undercut the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Act, four former heads of the EPA, under Republican presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush testified instead that action is imperative. Noting that businesses and states are already taking the crisis seriously, William Ruckelshaus, who headed the first EPA under Nixon, said: “There is a lot happening on climate. It’s just not happening in Washington.”

Indeed, our government may be gridlocked by the Republicans who control the House while hamstrung by ties to a fossil fuel lobby that demands utter fealty, but local leaders and the American people are moving forward fast.

Just last year, Al Gore and I stood and watched as then-Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s history-making plan to stop using coal-fired power by 2025 and replace it with cleaner energy sources.

That was a proud moment for Los Angeles, and Al Gore ended an impassioned speech that day on a hopeful note about the ability of our society to quickly evolve: “If somebody had told you four years ago,” he said, “that on this beautiful March day, 60 percent of the American people would say, ‘we are in favor of gay marriage,’ you would have said, ‘no we can’t change that much that fast.’ But we can, and we did.” The same will be true of attitudes about cutting carbon, he predicted.

My guess is that even Al Gore is surprised by how soon his prophecy has become reality. When this month the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced its Clean Power Plan for cutting carbon emissions from power plants, polls found about 70 percent of Americans in favor.

This really is a potentially defining American moment. We cannot let it slip from our grasp, for while momentum is on our side, time is not. And so on September 21, tens of thousands of people will converge on New York City to urge the president to show the hundreds of world leaders gathering in that city for the United Nations Climate Summit, that America is ready to lead a global response to this global crisis.

We’re going to make 2014 the tipping point year in the international effort to solve the climate crisis, and contrary to what those who remain corrupted by the influence of the coal, oil, and gas industries would like you to think, the world we’re already tipping toward is not one of diminished lifestyle, but one of rare historic opportunity.

Already, people across America are finding well-paying, meaningful jobs building the wind turbines and installing the solar panels that will let us walk away from the dirty 19th-century fossil fuels that are making us sick and wreaking havoc on our planet’s climate. Already, investors are profiting from the technological innovation that is creating an era of clean energy prosperity, while communities that have long borne the brunt of fossil-fuel refining and burning are demanding an energy future that does not perpetuate sacrifice zones in places like Wilmington, Detroit, and Houston.

Every day, more people recognize the obvious course we need to take. And on September 21, the cross section of people rallying at the People’s Climate March will state the obvious more loudly and assertively than ever before in New York City and around the country.

Join the team and make a huge difference – People’s Climate March

You can make this a tipping point.

RSVP now

Sign up to volunteer –
and make the People’s Climate March one for the history books!

Friends  –

What do you have in common with Cesar Chavez, Susan B. Anthony, and Barack Obama?

You’ve all chosen not to simply accept the status quo, but to stand up and take action in your communities. That’s what truly creates change, and that’s why I’m so excited that you’ve signed up to be a part of the People’s Climate March — the biggest climate march in history.

You have the power to make this a tipping point — but to achieve that goal we need leaders to step up and volunteer. Can we count on you?

There’s a lot to do to ensure our message is heard loud and clear on September 21st– phone banking, flyering, and recruiting– but when we march down the streets of New York alongside tens of thousands of activists from around the country, it will be because of people like you who chose to be a bigger part of this movement.

Click here to let us know how you can help — making calls, handing out flyers, or anything else you can think of!

Once you sign up, I’ll contact you to help you get started. You can commit as little as five hours a week — or more if you’re available! Feel free to email me with any questions about how you can make a difference.

Thanks for all you do. Look forward to hopefully organizing with you!

Dan Sherrell
Sierra Club Organizer

P.S. Volunteering is more fun with friends! Click here to forward this message to five of your friends and family and share this on Facebook and Twitter to get the word out.

Making Public Comments on North Carolina’s Proposed Fracking Rules

This Wednesday and Friday, next Monday, and Sept 12th there will be public hearing on proposed fracking rules for NC. Please try to make one of the hearings and speak out! Here’s some background information about the issues to help you prepare your comments. More information to follow.

Making Public Comments on North Carolina’s Proposed Fracking Rules

Public hearings on the state’s proposed fracking rules start on August 20.  Below is information about the meetings themselves, as well as, information that can help you create constructive comments.

The dates, times, and locations for the public hearings are as follows:

August 20, 2014 – Raleigh Public Hearing

NCSU- McKimmon Center, Raleigh, NC from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.

August 22, 2014 – Sanford Public Hearing

Wicker Civic Center, Sanford, NC from 5:00 to 9:00pm.

August 25, 2014 – Reidsville Public Hearing

Rockingham County High School, Reidsville, NC from 5:00 to 9:00pm.

September 12, 2014 – Cullowhee Public Hearing

Bardo Fine & Performing Arts Center- WCU, Cullowhee, NC from 5:00 to 9:00 pm.

There are a wide range of issues related to fracking upon which you may wish to comment. Click on one of the topics below to get more information about that topic.  Feel free to use this information in your talking points.  And if you have any questions about the hearings or other ways you can contribute, please contact Zak Keith, lead organizer for the NC Sierra Club.

Topics related to the proposed fracking rules:

Air Quality

Long-Term Contamination

 

Water

Baseline Testing

Fracking Chemicals

Click here to visit NC DENR’s page where you can read the proposed rules and find more information related to the Mining & Energy Commission.

 

 

Air Quality

Toxic air emissions from fracking operations are a threat to public health and the environment, but the rules proposed by the Mining and Energy Commission fail to take the most basic actions needed to address air pollution. The MEC is authorized to regulate toxic air emissions from drilling operations.

Fracking operations will likely be a source of regional nitrogen oxide (NOx) and volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions. More of these kind of emissions will make it more difficult for the Triangle area to comply with federal air quality standards. The MEC should limit these emissions from fracking operations.

Fracking operations will likely require many diesel truck trips. Diesel truck exhaust contains fine particles and air toxics including carcinogens 1,3-butadiene, acetaldehyde, acrolein, benzene and formaldehyde. The MEC should limit these emissions from fracking operations.

There is a federally approved (but not yet required) method of capturing and controlling some toxic air emissions from fracking wellheads – called ‘green completions’. The MEC should require all gas wells drilled in NC to have green completions under rules 5H .1308 (Permit Conditions) and 5H .1614 (Wellhead Requirements).

The MEC should require that fracking operators drilling near high occupancy buildings conduct continuous air quality monitoring to protect public health in Rule 5H .1308.

 

 

Long-Term Contamination

Fracking operations may cause soil and groundwater contamination over the long-term but yet the MEC proposed rules lack effective remedies for neighbors of fracking operations who may suffer these impacts. Fracking operations require storage and use of a variety of chemicals including brines, corrosive minerals and radioactive materials – which, if mismanaged, can cause long-lasting soil and water contamination.

The MEC proposed rules rely heavily on self-reporting of spills and violations and self-corrective actions by fracking operators in 5H .2005.  The MEC should require soil and water testing as a component of a reclamation plan under 5H .2102, with clear requirements for soil and groundwater remediation if contamination is found. The certainty of such testing is best deterrent to non-compliance with 5H .2005.

 

 

Water

Fracking generates huge volumes of wastewater that may contain chemicals, carcinogens and a variety of contaminants.  There is no safe way to dispose of this wastewater in North Carolina and the MEC proposed rules lack critical safeguards to protect public health and the environment from contaminated wastewater. A single fracking well can use up to 6 million gallons of water and much of this water eventually flows back out of the well as flowback wastewater.  The flowback water can get contaminated from chemicals added in for the fracking operations and may include naturally occurring contaminants from underground – like salts, heavy metals and sometimes radioactive materials. Further, NC does not have water quality standards for many fracking contaminants.

The MEC proposed rule 5H .2002 would mandate a state-approved waste disposal plan before fracking may begin. This plan could identify a waste disposal facility for fracking wastewater – but there is no requirement that the facility actually be permitted, built and running. The MEC should require that plans identify facilities that are actually up and running in Rule 15A NCAC 5H .2002(d)(6).

The MEC should disallow transportation of fracking wastewater to any facility that will discharge a contaminant listed by the federal government as a known or suspected carcinogen, teratogen, toxicant or endocrine disruptor. This change would strengthen Rule 15A NCAC 5H .2003(i).

The MEC should require that all wastewater be managed in a closed loop system.

Accidents happen and the MEC rules should be written to protect public health and the environment in the case of spills. The proposed rules do not require operators to submit contingency plans for spills associated with drilling operations. The MEC should require that fracking operations have a spill prevention and response plan for all reportable spills under Rule .2005 as a condition of any permit under .1304.

 

 

Baseline Testing

Fracking operations have the potential to contaminate surrounding soil and water. Baseline data is information collected ahead of time to be used to measure any future changes against. The MEC should require that fracking operators collect extensive baseline data on drinking water prior to drilling to be able to tell if that water is contaminated by fracking. Baseline testing should go along with monitoring requirements to ensure that the state and public can evaluate long-term  impacts of fracking.

NC law requires four samples in the two years following drilling. The MEC should extend the requirement for baseline testing from 2 years to 6 years after drilling.

NC law says that operators are responsible for paying for baseline testing but is unclear as to who is responsible for doing the baseline testing. Nonetheless, the proposed MEC rules say that if an owner does not conduct baseline testing, they waive the legal protections of presumptive liability (meaning that the operator is assumed to be liable for contamination within a certain area unless shown otherwise). The MEC should require that operators implement baseline testing programs utilizing third party labs.

 

 

Chemicals

Fluids used to frack generally contain many chemicals, some of which are known carcinogens. Over 750 chemicals are known to have been used in fracking. Not all chemicals used in fracking operations are required to be disclosed; some are allowed to be kept secret if they qualify as trade secrets.

The MEC should require fracking operators to disclose all chemicals used in fracking operations. At a minimum, the MEC should require disclosure of constituent chemicals and their chemical abstract numbers for all chemicals in drilling and fracking fluids. Further, the MEC should require that when a formula for a fracking fluid is a trade secret,that component chemicals still be disclosed and made public – to ensure protection of water quality.

Sierra Club NC Chapter Legislative Update 8-15-14

Protect Enviro Democracy

Hello Friends,

This week was our second “final” week of short session this summer. And it may not be the last.  As is often the case in the final days of a legislative session, mischief increases towards the end.  For example, a regulatory reform bill that had been considered dead last week returned to life last night and was passed today.

Regulatory Reform – a gift basket for polluting industry:
Conforming with tradition to pass bad environmental bills at the very end of session, the legislature today passed a regulatory reform bill full of giveaways to regulated industry at the expense of the environment. There were several regulatory reform bills in negotiation throughout the session, including S 734 and S 38. A conference report for S 734, which included many old and some new provisions, was made public last night – and passed today; it next goes to the Governor to be signed (unless he were to decide to veto it).

Among the provisions in S 734 that are problematic for the environment are the following:

A provision that would allow a speed limit waiver to be granted for special events in state parks and forests.  It would allow any person to petition DENR to waive the standard 25 mph speed limit in a state park or forest for a special event. According to reports, this speed limit statute is the only obstacle to the Division of State Parks, for the first time, issue a permit for exclusive use of the main attraction of a state park for private purposes (specifically, for auto races). This measure was sought by political backers of Gov McCrory. Opening the door to allowing our state parks to be used exclusively by private groups is a serious matter.  So serious, that if we are heading down that road, it should be properly discussed and debated, not put into a bill without explanation or public review.

Another provision of S 734 would weaken protection for wetlands. The provision would nearly eliminate 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. The threshold for when a developer must get a permit to impact isolated wetlands eastern NC is currently 1/3 acre. That doesn’t mean isolated wetlands cannot be built upon – just that a permit from the state is required to do so.  Builders’ efforts to avoid permitting requirements actually end up protecting lots of wetland habitat – this bill would remove some disincentive to building in these areas. The provision also would reduce mitigation requirements for impacts to isolated wetlands statewide. Overall this provision is a negative for water quality because isolated wetlands are important for flood control, groundwater recharge and habitat.

Additionally 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.

Representatives Luebke (D – Durham) and Rep. Insko (D – Orange) spoke up against the bill today because of the bad environmental provisions.  A number of the provisions in the S 734 conference report that passed today were not in any prior version of the bill. Apparently, adding provisions in conference that were not in either bill is not acceptable when it comes to protecting groundwater for communities threatened by coal ash, but is fine when it means gutting environmental protections that have served North Carolinians well for decades.

Opportunity for Action:
Please thank Represenatives Luebke and Insko for sticking up for the environment by speaking up against S 734.  And please contact the Governor to ask for a veto of this bill.

Coal Ash Bill Update – Deja Vu?
Its been more than six months since Duke Energy’s facility in Eden spilled nearly 40,000 tons of coal ash into the Dan River. During this time legislators have promised the public a solution that will protect communities and prevent future disasters. The Sierra Club has advocated for a strong coal ash bill that would require clean up of coal ash at all 14 sites across the state and protect groundwater.

On Thursday the Senate again voted to not concur on the House version of the coal ash bill and re-appointed the same conferees as before (Senators Apodaca, Berger and Wade).  The Senate had previously taken these same steps but then reversed themselves in an apparent late night effort to pressure the House to agree to a coal ash bill without additional groundwater protections that the House demanded.  Since then, the House seems to have not given up on this demand – so the Senate reappointed the same conference committee – indicating that the coal ash bill is still being negotiated. It appears unlikely that that the coal ash bill will be resolved this month. It could possibly be addressed in a November session if the legislature chooses to return then – or in the 2015 long session.

The End?
On Thursday the Senate passed three adjournment resolutions to give the House options to choose from.  The House has not yet chosen an adjournment resolution – so the legislature is not in agreement as to when to adjourn. The House and Senate have scheduled sessions Monday afternoon, but House Speaker Tillis said that may change to Wednesday.

Thanks for your volunteer advocacy!


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

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