Mark Your Calendar – Global Fackdown on Oct 11

“If you care about the drinking water where you live, you owe it to yourself to join Global Frackdown. The EPA may have taken its eye off the ball, but many good people around the world are refusing to stand by while the oil and gas industries recklessly threaten our drinking water. Global Frackdown Day is a good opportunity to find out who’s fighting that good fight in your own community and learn more about what’s at stake.”

    ~ Michael Brune, Fracking: The Other EPA Shutdown
Stay tuned for more information about events in Charlotte! If you would like to be part of a planning team for this day, please contact Bill Gupton.
Global Frackdown Oct 11 2014

“Fracking” has become synonymous with the ways in which the oil and gas industry:

  • Fragments forests and mars landscapes with new roads, new well sites and new pipelines and other infrastructure
  • Produces huge amounts of toxic and even radioactive waste, the disposal of which causes earthquakes and risks drinking water resources
  • Causes thousands of accidents, leaks and spills each year that threaten public health and safety and risk rivers, streams and shallow aquifers
  • Pumps hazardous pollutants into the air, at the expense of local communities, families and farms
  • Turns homes into explosive hazards by contaminating water wells with methane and other harmful gases
  • Consumes millions of gallons of water for each fracked well, competing with farmers for local water supplies
  • Puts vital aquifers at risk for generations by creating new pathways through which contaminants – including the chemicals injected, radioactive brines and methane and other hydrocarbon gases – can flow over long periods of time
  • Threatens the climate on which we all depend by dumping carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere, and by locking in future climate pollution with each new infrastructure project
  • Delays the remaking of local and regional energy systems around proven clean solutions, using high-paid lobbyists, political campaign war chests and public relations flacks to stifle progress and prolong our dependence on oil and gas
  • Enjoys enormous profits padded by billions of dollars a year in needless subsidies, at all of our expense.

The fight against fracking is the fight for an altogether different vision for the future of energy. It is the fight for democratic and localized energy systems, built on the efficient use of abundant and renewable energy resources.

Check out the links below to learn more about why you should join the Global Frackdown and help keep unconventional oil and gas safely underground.


Information from:

Will Charlotte Continue to Weaken Storm Water Controls?

For months now the Charlotte environmental and sustainability community, including Catawba RiverkeeperCharlotte Public Tree Fund, Sierra Club Central Piedmont Group, and Sustain Charlotte, have reached out to the Charlotte City Council and City Stormwater Staff and urged them NOT TO WEAKEN our stormwater protection. The Post-Construction Stormwater Ordinance (PCO) is a key regulation to stop stormwater runoff, protect our stream banks and trees, and help to reduce reduce pollution following into our streams, rivers, and lakes.

Take a moment and click below to read WHAT and WHY we asking City Council NOT TO WEAKEN our stormwater protection.

On Monday, September 22, Charlotte City Council has planned a Public Hearing that will, for the most part, determine the future water quality of our area lakes, streams and rivers. More information on the hearing to follow. Check back often.

See also: Charlotte Stormwater Pollution – Harming Our Lakes, Streams and Rivers

September 4 Joint Letter

PCO Letter Sept 4 2014 PCO Joint Comments Sept 4 2014

June 16 Joint Letter

PCCO Joint Letter June 16 2014PCO Joint Letter June 16 2014

They’re Building A Pipeline Song – Help Protect the Wilderness

Thank you Carol…

Published on Sep 14, 2014

Help preserve the most beautiful place on earth; its wildlife, its people, its music, the culture that connects us all. Song by Carol Denney of Berkeley, CA, who has roots in the mountains.…

Charlotte Stormwater Pollution – Harming Our Lakes, Streams and Rivers

On Monday, September 22, Charlotte City Council has planned a Public Hearing that will, for the most part, determine the future water quality of our area lakes, streams and rivers.

Runoff from stormwater is a major contributor to water pollution. Watch this short video- “Storm Water Pollution: The Unknown Assailant” to learn about the issues involved (thanks to the Catawba Riverkeeper for posting this on their website).

Check back for more information on this issue this week.

See you on Sept 22 at the City Council Meeting!

2014 Mecklenburg County State of the Environment Report

At our August meeting we had a great presentation about the Sustain Charlotte 2014 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Sustainability Report Card – “What would your parents say if you brought home this report card?”

Our September meeting on Wednesday the 24th will feature Heidi Pruess, Environmental Policy Administrator for Mecklenburg County’s Land Use and Environmental Services Agency, as she provides an Update on the Mecklenburg County Livability Plan (Click link for meeting information).

If you haven’t had a chance to review the 2014 Mecklenburg County State of the Environment Report, I highly recommend that you do so before the meeting. You can also click the link – Listen – to hear a discussion of the report from a WFAE Charlotte Talks show.

See you on the 24th for our monthly meeting!


WFAE Charlotte Talks: “Mecklenburg County Environmental Report Card” (from March 25, 2014)

Every two years Mecklenburg County does an environmental assessment and delivers an environmental report card of sorts. The report card for the last two years has just been released and we’ll meet with two officials to see how our region fared in Air, Land, Water and Waste use and efficiency. In most aspects the county has fared well but the recession did have an impact in some areas. We’ll find out which ones, what aspects of our environment passed with flying colors and what has room for improvement. We check the county’s environmental grade.

Heidi Pruess
– Community Plan and Sustainability Officer for Mecklenburg County
Jeff Michael – Director, UNC Charlotte Urban Institute

2014 Mecklenburg County State of the Environment Report

The State of the Environment Report (SOER) has been used as an informative tool for understanding the current environmental state of our region while identifying strategies and recommendations to maintain and enhance our quality of life by ensuring clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, and healthy land on which to live and recreate.

This 2014 SOER expands on the traditional identification of priority environmental indicators in Mecklenburg County by providing a trend analysis for each environmental indicator during recent history. Each SOER chapter button below provides a list of recommended actions for addressing these priority environmental indicators as well as informative and fun videos.

Visit Air Quality's Chapter Page Visit Land's Chapter Page
Visit Water's Chapter Page Visit Waste's Chapter Page

Environmental Indicators
Environmental Indicators can be found through the chapter buttons above or via the table below. This website will be updated as either the indicator trend changes or as new information becomes available.

Environmental Indicators Key

 Air indicator
Overall Air Quality
Particulate Matter
NOx, SO2, CO, Lead
 Land indicator
Climate Change and Wildlife
Nature Preserves
Facility Planning
 Waste indicator
Commercial Waste
Yard Waste
Residential Waste
Household Hazardous Waste 
 Water indicator
Public Involvement 

If you are interested in exploring trends back to 1987, you are encouraged to read the 2008 SOER. If you are interested in learning more about how Mecklenburg County’s State of the Environment reflects on our region, you are encouraged to read the 2010 SOER or the 2012 SOER.

Mecklenburg County is fortunate to have County staff with both the technical expertise and practical knowledge to produce the information contained in this 2014 edition of the State of the Environment Report. Please join me in thanking them for their determination and skill in producing this exceptional report!

Additional information at



NC Coal Ash Bill – Speak Your Mind to Your NC Elected Official!

Call or send an email to your NC elected officials and let them know what you think of the bill. Do it today! (See contact information below)

Coal Ash Bill

Joint Press Statement on N.C. Coal Ash Bill S729 – S729 Fails to Protect People from Duke Energy’s Coal Ash Pollution

S729 Fails to Protect People from Duke Energy’s Coal Ash Pollution

CHAPEL HILL, N.C.— The coal ash bill issued by a conference committee of the N.C. General Assembly today fails to require cleanup of 10 coal ash sites across North Carolina by allowing Duke Energy to leave its polluting coal ash in unlined, leaking pits at 10 of 14 sites. The bill leaves at risk people in nearby and downstream communities throughout North Carolina and other states. The bill seeks to weaken existing law and protect Duke Energy from taking responsibility for its coal ash waste.

Allowing coal ash to be left in unlined, leaking pits across North Carolina with documented groundwater contamination at each site is not a cleanup plan nor does it protect the people of North Carolina. Many sites across the country where coal ash has been covered up or “capped” in place continue to experience high levels of toxic pollution. Covering up coal ash and calling sites “closed” does not stop or clean up pollution.

All communities deserve to have water supplies protected from the toxic threat of coal ash by moving coal ash to dry, lined storage away from our waterways.

All of Duke Energy’s coal ash disposal sites pollute groundwater, and existing law in North Carolina requires “immediate action to eliminate the source of contamination” at these sites. Politicians inserted language into Senate Bill 729 that guts existing law and undermines citizens groups’ ongoing efforts to ensure real cleanup of these polluting sites under existing law.

As Duke Energy sought previously through its proposed sweetheart settlement deal with the state, the bill gives Duke Energy amnesty for its leaking coal ash dams. Rather than requiring Duke to fix its leaking dams, S 729 would let the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) shield Duke by authorizing uncontrolled discharges of contaminated wastewater into our rivers and lakes. Granting this responsibility to an agency with a history of putting the interests of Duke Energy over the public is a prescription for failure.

The legislature should require Duke Energy to clean up its leaking coal ash dams, and not allow DENR to paper over Duke Energy’s pollution.

Any bill written to weaken North Carolina’s protections against coal ash pollution is alarming given the recent disaster at Duke Energy’s Dan River facility and frequent promises from our elected representatives that this bill would protect citizens of North Carolina.

The Southern Environmental Law Center represents the following citizens groups in various court cases to clean up Duke Energy’s coal ash pollution across North Carolina: Appalachian Voices, Cape Fear Riverwatch, Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation, Dan River Basin Association, Neuse Riverkeeper Foundation, Roanoke River Basin Association, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Waterkeeper Alliance, Winyah Rivers Foundation, and Yadkin Riverkeeper.


SACE Response – NC Lawmakers Come Up Short on Coal Ash

Unfortunately, the bill they passed actually undermines current groundwater protection laws, fails to clean up 10 of North Carolina’s dangerous and polluting coal ash impoundments and lets Duke off the hook for the harm their dumpsites are causing communities and waterways statewide. As a News & Observer recent Editorial aptly stated, Senate Bill 729 “proposes to solve the coal ash problem by declaring it not a problem. Or, at least not an urgent problem.”

At the very least, lawmakers could have codified a judge’s ruling earlier this year (a result of citizen suits enforcing the Clean Water Act) that clarified the requirement in current law that Duke immediately remove all sources of groundwater pollution (i.e., every single one of their coal ash dumpsites, all of which have been polluting groundwater for years). Instead, the new bill will leave much of the state’s coal ash right where it is, either dewatered or capped in place next to waterways where it can pollute in perpetuity–a plan that lawmakers are touting as comprehensive clean up.


Good editorial – NC Coal ash bill offers a weak remedy

But this something is not much better than nothing. Essentially, Senate Bill 729 proposes to solve the coal ash problem by declaring it not a problem. Or, at least not an urgent problem. Only four of Duke Energy’s 14 coal ash sites are designated for cleanup by 2019. What to do with the rest would depend on risk assessments by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and approval by a commission whose members would be appointed by the legislature and the governor.

Addressing the problem with a commission delays action. It also assures that the “solution” will be the product of lobbying and the legislature’s prevailing desire to side with business interests over the interests, and in this case the health, of state residents. We need look no further than the state’s Mining and Safety Commission’s pro-fracking approach to safety issues to know how this even more politicized coal ash commission would work.

The bill makes it obvious just how broken, to borrow the governor’s term, environmental regulation is in North Carolina. It requires that the Department of Environment and Natural resources to have its coal ash decisions approved by a commission. The House’s lead negotiator on the measure, Rep. Chuck McGrady, R-Henderson, said the state’s environmental regulators can’t regulate coal ash directly because, “There’s ongoing criminal investigations right now.” A federal grand jury is investigating DENR’s actions related to coal ash.

Good response – Environmentalists slam new coal ash bill

Environmantalists noted that Duke already had said it planned to get rid of the ash at the four plants.

“The bill doesn’t explicitly require Duke to do anything it hasn’t already voluntarily committed to do or will soon be required by the federal government,” said D.J. Gerken, an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center.

“A far cry from the historic bill lawmakers have touted, this plan chooses just four communities out of 14 across the state to receive cleanup,” said Amy Adams, North Carolina campaign coordinator for Appalachian Voices. “The others, our lawmakers have decided, will have to wait for a commission of political appointees to decide their fate.”

“This bill is a big gift to a multi-billion-dollar utility giant,” said Hartwell Carson, French Broad Riverkeeper for the Asheville-based environmental group Western North Carolina Alliance. “Instead of strengthening and furthering protections from coal ash, this bill attempts to weaken cleanup requirements already in place.”


Another good response – Method used for closing coal ash ponds linked to problems

The legislation that cleared the General Assembly on Wednesday allows Duke Energy to close some of its coal ash pits using a method – known as cap-in-place – that has been linked with groundwater contamination at the company’s Belews Creek Steam Station in Stokes County, according to documents obtained by the Journal.

Conservation groups prefer that Duke excavate the coal ash at all 14 sites and put it in lined landfills. While Duke says that cap-in-place would be safe, conservationists say that pollutants in the coal ash left in capped ponds would eventually seep into groundwater and contaminate it – as has been documented by the Pine Hall landfill.

“This (legislation) leaves ongoing contamination in place – and that is a major policy shift for North Carolina,” said D.J. Gerken, a senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center.

The legislation would also allow Duke to circumvent a Wake County Superior Court judge’s ruling that state law requires the immediate removal of sources of contamination, conservationists say.


Call or send an email to your NC elected officials and let them know what you think of the bill. Do it today!

Mecklenburg County Legislative Delegation

Kelly M. Alexander, Jr:; (919) 733-5778
William Brawley:; (919) 733-5800
Rob Bryan:; (919) 733-5607
Becky Carney:; (919) 733-5827
Tricia Ann Cotham:; (919) 715-0706
Carla D. Cunningham:; (919) 733-5807
Beverly M. Earle:; (919) 715-2530
Charles Jeter:; (919) 733-5654
Rodney W. Moore:; (919) 733-5606
Ruth Samuelson:; (919) 715-3009
Jacqueline Michelle Shaffer:; (919) 733-5886
Thom Tillis:; (919) 733-3451
Jeff Jackson,; (704) 942-0118
Joel D. M. Ford:; (919) 733-5955
Malcolm Graham:; (919) 733-5650
Bob Rucho:; (919) 733-5655
Jeff Tarte:; (919) 715-3050

Mecklenburg County Representation (Website and district number)

House Members

Kelly M. Alexander, Jr. (District 107)
William Brawley (District 103)
Rob Bryan (District 88)
Becky Carney (District 102)
Tricia Ann Cotham (District 100)
Carla D. Cunningham (District 106)
Beverly M. Earle (District 101)
Charles Jeter (District 92)
Rodney W. Moore (District 99)
Ruth Samuelson (District 104)
Jacqueline Michelle Schaffer (District 105)
Thom Tillis (District 98)

Senate Members

Daniel G. Clodfelter (District 37) (RESIGNED 04/08/2014)
Joel D. M. Ford (District 38)
Malcolm Graham (District 40)
Jeff Jackson (District 37) (APPOINTED 05/06/2014)
Bob Rucho (District 39)
Jeff Tarte (District 41)

“What We Should Know About Our Water and What We Can Do About It” – Temple Beth El, Aug 22

Temple Beth El is holding their tenth annual Schloss Summer Lecture “What We Should Know About Our Water and What We Can Do About It,” with Reed Perkins, professor of environmental science at Queens University, and Ivan Cooper, national practice leader at Civil and Environmental Consultants. The program is free and the public is welcomed.

What We Should Know About Our Water and What We Can Do About It

Aug. 22nd at 7:45 PM

Temple Beth El

5101 Providence Road (in Shalom Park)