Want to meet other folks involved in preserving and protecting our Charlotte area drinking water AND have a fun time? Make plans to attend the We Love Mountain Island Lake Day.
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).
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).
The City Environment Committee will not be reviewing coal ash today but they will be reviewing the long term plan for our area water needs. Check out the presentation below and share your thoughts with the Committee members.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Cassie Gavin, Director of Government Relations
Sierra Club – NC Chapter
PROTECT AMERICA’S WATER!
|Sign the petition:
“I strongly support the effort of the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers to clarify which waters of the United States are protected under the Clean Water Act and to restore a common sense approach to protecting our nation’s lakes, rivers, and streams. I urge them to finalize a rule that is protective of all streams and wetlands — including wetlands outside of floodplains — that directly influence the physical, chemical and biological integrity of the nation’s rivers, lakes and bays.”
Over 40 years ago, two-thirds of America’s lakes, rivers and coastal waters were unsafe for fishing and swimming. Because of the Clean Water Act, that number has been cut in half. However, one-third of the nation’s waters are still in trouble.
The Obama administration recently proposed a new rule to clarify which wetlands and streams in the U.S. are covered under the Clean Water Act.
This proposal will finally restore protections, as originally intended, to almost all of the nation’s fresh waters — ensuring safe drinking water for 117 million Americans.1
This is great news, but some polluters are actively working to stop the restoration of our nation’s clean water protections.2
Clean water is essential to every single American, from families and communities who rely on clean water to drink, safe places to swim and healthy fish to eat, to farmers who need abundant and reliable sources of water to grow their crops, to hunters and fishermen who depend on healthy waters for recreation and their work, and to businesses that need a steady supply of water for operations.
But one in three American’s gets their drinking water from public systems that rely on seasonal, rain-dependent and headwater streams. Most of these waters are at risk of pollution due to confusing Supreme Court rulings and unclear agency guidance. This proposal will provide clarity and the protections needed to ensure these waters are safe and healthy for everyone.
The proposal is also supported by the latest peer-reviewed science, including a draft scientific assessment by EPA, which presents a review and synthesis of more than 1,000 pieces of scientific literature.
Thanks for all you do for the environment,
Sierra Club President
P.S. After you take action, be sure to forward this alert to your friends and colleagues!
 “Waters of the United States,” United States Environmental Protection Agency. Accessed 24 April 2014.
 Snider, Annie, “Water Policy: Major Obama proposal doesn’t change ag rules — so why are farm groups so worried?” E&E Publishing LLC. 17 April 2914.
|Don’t let Duke off the hook!|
In February 2014, a stormwater pipe ruptured underneath a coal ash pond in Eden, North Carolina, spilling up to 40,000 tons of toxic coal ash and 27 million gallons of wastewater into the Dan River.
Since then, lawmakers and lobbyists have been busy in the Legislature. They have come up with a few proposed bills, but without a show of support from the public, their “solutions” could not actually do enough to clean up, or even make things worse.
You know Duke’s lobbyists will be there doing everything they can to let them off the hook for this problem they created. But our legislators are still ultimately accountable to us. We need to raise our voices to demand a strong bill that actually solves our coal ash problems.
Duke Energy owns 33 toxic coal ash pits across North Carolina where harmful chemicals like arsenic, lead, and selenium are known to be leaking into the groundwater threatening the health of our communities. Duke Energy has known about the problems with their coal ash ponds for years but done nothing to significantly clean them up.
We can find a solution to our coal ash crisis, but not without your help. The only way we are going to get the toxic coal ash moved out of unlined pits beside our state’s waterways is if you speak up and demand that Duke clean up its mess!
Thanks for everything you do to protect the environment,
Beyond Coal Campaign
P.S. You can deliver you message in person at our Lobby Day being held this Wednesday, June 4. Find out more details and RSVP here.
P.P.S. After you RSVP, be sure to forward this invitation to your friends and colleagues and share it on social media!
|Share the petition on Facebook|
|Share the petition on Twitter|
The North Carolina General Assembly reconvened last week for its 2014 legislative short session. And though it may be ‘short’, this session is already substantive and fast moving.
The best way to stay up to date on what’s happening at the legislature is to sign up for Cassie Gavin’s weekly updates. As our lobbyist, Cassie is on the front lines helping protect our air, water, and natural places as various pieces of legislation are considered. Send Cassie (email@example.com) a note to request her updates.
You will find more information on advocacy actions you can take, as well as outing opportunities to get outdoors and explore and enjoy our beautiful state.
Thanks for all that you do,
Your staff at the NC Sierra Club
Breaking News: Fracking Bill Speeds Through the Senate
Yesterday, S 786 (this year’s fracking bill) was pushed through two committees and sent to the Senate floor. Today, the full Senate gave tentative approval to the measure. We expect it to be heard in the House next week.
S 786 contains a provision that breaks the promise made by the 2012 legislature when it put a ban on the issuance of fracking permits until a regulatory framework is in place. The legislature committed that the ban would not be lifted until the General Assembly reviewed and voted on the Mining and Energy Commission’s rulemaking recommendations. And, the legislature promised that North Carolina would have the strongest rules in the nation.
Instead, S 786 lifts the ban on issuing fracking permits effective in July of 2015.
Let Your Voice Be Heard: Coal Ash Lobby Day on June 4
As you know, in February a stormwater pipe burst beneath a coal ash impoundment spilling 40,000 tons of coal ash – laced with arsenic, mercury, and lead – into the Dan River. Coal ash now coats the bottom of the Dan River for more than 70 miles, and is inches thick in some locations.
Along with Dan River, North Carolina has 13 other coal plants and 33 coal ash pits across that state that are threatening the health of communities and polluting precious groundwater.
That’s right. All across North Carolina, Duke Energy is storing coal ash in unlined pits directly adjacent to our rivers and lakes. Hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians rely on drinking water downstream of these coal ash ponds.
You may not be surprised to learn that some lawmakers want to pick and choose which coal ash sites are cleaned up. Join community members from across the state to tell your lawmakers that your community matters!
Whether or not you can attend the Coal Ash Lobby Day in Raleigh, there is something that you can do right now to help protect our communities from toxic coal ash.
Our volunteer lobbyists are instrumental in making sure that legislators have the information they need when taking up serious issues. From fracking to clean energy, and issues local and statewide, our success depends on Sierrans like you stepping up.
You are the leader that you’ve been waiting for. Sign up to learn more about the Lobby Corps today!
What do Bill Murray, Mary Lou Retton, and the NC Sierra Club have in common? Monumental achievements in 1984.
Thirty years ago the NC Wilderness Act was signed into law and 68,700 acres of wilderness in North Carolina were protected. The acreage total gets higher when you include the 25,000+ acres of study areas that were part of the law. And Sierrans played a large role in getting the Wilderness Act passed.
The program includes presentations from:
● Dr. Robbie Cox, past NC Chapter Chair and former Sierra Club President;
● Dan Chu, Senior Campaign Director for the Sierra Club’s Our Wild America program; and,
● Amanda Damweber, Triangle Inner City Outings Chair.
Join us for an evening of great food and drink and even better company. Help celebrate wild North Carolina and Sierra Club’s outings programs. Get your tickets today!
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the North Carolina Wilderness Act, each month we will highlight a wilderness area or a piece of history about how these areas became protected. This month, we celebrate the four wilderness areas within the Croatan National Forest.
In eastern North Carolina, the Croatan National Forest is home to four Wilderness Areas: Catfish Lake, Pocosin, Pond Pond, and Sheep Ridge. Altogether, these tracts of land consist of over 31,000 acres. Many dismiss these wilderness areas as impenetrable bogs that are only accessible by crossing deep ditches, but this is not entirely true.
Catfish Lake Wilderness Area can be reached driving down a dirt road to the lake and then crossing the lake in a kayak to the wilderness area. Sheep Ridge is directly accessible by the same gravel road that offers the turn off to Catfish Lake. Pond Pine wilderness area is accessible by the dirt road that leads to Great Lake, and Pocosin is a accessible by either a railroad track or the upper tributaries of the Newport River.
Visitors to these areas may see alligators, at least three kinds of poisonous snakes, and insectivorous plants like the sticky sundew, the waxy butterwort, and the no-way-out pitcher and Venus flytrap. Being remote and seemingly uninviting are part of what helps keep these wilderness areas mostly unspoiled. But that also makes them worth seeking out for those of us who truly want to explore Our Wild North Carolina.
Left: Henry Fansler of the Foothills Group walks between Sheep Ridge and Pond Pine, with Great Lake in the distant upper left corner. Right: The edge of Pond Pine Wilderness. Photo credit: Avery Locklear, used with permission.
Solar is Rising: A New Campaign with a Strong Foundation
The NC Sierra Club has been working for years to help move our state away from dirty energy sources and onto clean energy solutions. Our new Solar is Rising campaign builds on the great work our volunteers have already done and pushes our public education and advocacy efforts to a new level.
For the coming months, the Solar is Rising campaign will engage, educate, and motivate North Carolinians about the consequences of dirty energy and our state’s potential for better solar policies. The will be more to come from this campaign in the coming months, but for now, it’s pretty clear that Solar is Rising!
Celebration of the Military Child Outdoors – April 26, 2014
The second annual Celebration of the Military Child Outdoors (COMCO) at Camp Lejeune, NC was headed up by Karan Barber, the new director of the Charlotte Inner City Outings Program (ICO). Joining Karan and her E-Corps Crew for the set-up day on Friday were Kelly Mieszkalski, Tom Williams and Nancy Card. On Saturday, it was all hands on deck as Robert Scull, Elizabeth Greene and Hap Palmer joined in to help connect approximately 250 folks from military families to the great outdoors. Representatives from five NC Chapter Groups were there to share in the fun!
The children checked in and were given a mission card to be stamped by each exhibitor including: Sturgeon City, Thrifty Adventures, Possumwood Acres, Camp Corral, USMC MCCS Outdoor Adventures, USO, Play Mobile, and the NC Zoo.
The North Carolina Sierra Club Outings leaders set up camp – literally – with tents and other camping gear. For some of the kids, it was their first time inside a tent. They also participated in a treasure hunt game developing navigational skills using a compass that was theirs to keep. The treasure chest featured bandanas screen printed by the Our Wild NC Team. Fifty-four new folks signed up for the Explore Our Wild NC challenge and the NC Chapter raffled off a family tent to one lucky family.
After sampling all there was to offer, the young explorers returned to the check-in desk to share their successful mission cards and claim prizes including a magnifying glass, cool shades, a flying disc, and kite. The high fives and smiles were overwhelming. It was a wonderful opportunity to share adventures with our country’s youngest heroes!
For more great pictures of this event, click here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsjXN181k
Sesquicentennial Park Outings Leader Training (OLT) Event a Big Success!
On May 3-4, over 30 current and aspiring Sierra Club Outings Leaders from the North and South Carolina Chapters gathered at Sesquicentennial State Park in Columbia, SC for a weekend full of Outdoor Leadership Training (OLT). In true Sierra Club fashion, we camped out under the stars and did all of our teaching and training outside! Participants were treated to camp fire songs, perfect weather, and fantastic South Carolina hospitality (including BBQ!). Training included Sierra Club OLT101 (Basic Outdoor Leadership), OLT201 (Advanced Outdoor Leadership), Watercraft (Canoe/Kayak) Safety, and CPR/First Aid training.
Thank you and congratulations to the following volunteer Outings Leaders who devoted a weekend away from home to further their commitments in getting more people outdoors while keeping them safe, happy and inspired:
● Barbara Adamski
Central Piedmont Group
● Linda Alley
● Bill Gupton
● Dori Bowman
● Hollis Parks
● David Robinson
● David Underwood
● Vance Parker
● Henry Fansler
● Michael Byrne
● Kelly Mieszkalski
● Kim Ashley
● Rosmarie Rosenbloom
A special thank you to our event organizing and training partners:
Art Seel, Starr Hazard, Al Graves, and Chris Hall from South Carolina; and, Bill Gupton, and Kelly Mieszkalski from North Carolina
The next Sierra Club Outings Leader Training event will be at Hanging Rock State Park 8/24-8/26–please save the date! If you are interested in becoming a Sierra Club Outings Leader and/or if you have questions about the training event, please contact Kelly Mieszkalski at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
May 24, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. – Upper Newport River Kayak Outing – Newport, NC
Like most rivers that flow entirely within the coastal plain, the Newport River in Carteret County meanders, alternating between light sandy and dark silty soils. Most of this trip will be beneath a canopy of cheery spring foliage and lucky participants may see and hear beaver, turtles, deer, and a variety of birds. The length of the trip will depend upon the tide and how much its rained recently further upstream in the headwaters within the Pocosin Wilderness Area of Croatan National Forest.
Bring your own kayak, personal flotation device, drinking water, and lunch. Expect to get wet. Intermediate experience is preferable. A maximum of ten participants. You must sign a waiver to participate. For more information you must email Robert Scull to register at email@example.com.
May 30 – June 1, Overnight Backpack Trip – Cold Mountain, NC
This trip to Cold Mountain is in the Shining Rock Wilderness and is rated strenuous with significant elevation gain (from Flower Gap at 2,400 ft. to the top of Cold Mountain at 6,030 ft.)
This trip begins at the Big East Fork parking lot on NC 276 off the Blue Ridge Parkway near the Pisgah Inn. This is the trailhead for Shining Creek Trail. Group size is limited depending on the experience of the participants. For more information contact Jerry Weston at firstname.lastname@example.org or 336-856-1431. Telephone calls before 9:00 p.m. please. More information at https://nc2.sierraclub.org/outing/cold-mountain-nc
May 31, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. – Catawba Wildflower Glen Service Outing
Join volunteers at the Catawba Lands Conservancy preserve to help Mary Stauble, Land Stewardship Volunteer, remove invasive plants and contribute to protecting this important natural landscape. The Wildflower Glen is one of the conservancy’s crown jewels due to its rich ecological diversity and proximity to Charlotte.
Volunteers will meet at the property at 9:00 am for an orientation. After the work, Mary will lead the group on a hike of the glen. Please bring work gloves, clippers (optional), water, and a hat. Limit 10 participants. Please contact Linda Alley at email@example.com for more information and to register.
June 14 – Grandfather Mountain Photography Workshop with Avery Locklear
Join the Sierra Club Foothills Group’s own award-winning 20-year old nature photographer, Avery Locklear, for a free outdoor photography workshop along the scenic Profile Trail at Grandfather Mountain State Park.
Advance registration is required. Registration is limited to 20 participants. Your cell phone number will be required to register. Please contact Vance Parker by June 7, 2014 at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (336) 768-0481 before 10:00 pm. to register. Note: Your cell phone number will only be used for trip communication only; we do not give your cell phone number to any third parties.
June 14, 10:30 – 11:15 a.m. – Orange-Chatham Annual Picnic Hike, Carrboro NC
Work up an appetite for the annual Sierra Club Orange-Chatham Group picnic with a short 30-40 minute hike along the banks of Bolin Creek. Only a short walk from downtown Carrboro, the surrounding forest provides a peaceful escape from life’s complexity. The hike will provide a brief physical / mental challenge requiring well-placed steps to avoid getting wet in one section.
Sturdy non-slip hiking shoes are a must and an extra dry pair of socks are recommended, just in case. No pets on this one. The hike starts at the picnic location in Wilson Park. The outing leader will be Jae Furman. We will have a sign-up sheet/waiver at the start. More information at: https://nc2.sierraclub.org/outing/annual-picnic-hike
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 email@example.com or by telephone before 10:00 p.m. at (336) 768-0481. This is a family-friendly outing suitable for all ages.
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.
Thanks and congratulations to all who worked to put this together! Over 100 concerned citizens came together to call for clean water, the protection of our drinking water, and demand that Duke Energy clean up the Belews Creek coal ash dump. Watch and be inspired.
Great article by the “Queen of Coal Ash”! Check it out…
Duke Energy is polluting our water and shareholders could put a stop to it.
by Rhiannon Fionn