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.

Celebrate Wilderness! Sept 26-27 at Morrow Mountain State Park

What does Wilderness mean to you?

Come celebrate our North Carolina and national wilderness areas at a very special location so near to Charlotte – Morrow Mountain State Park!

Come for the day, the evening, or plan to join us Friday and Saturday as we camp in this beautiful setting.

Activities include canoeing, hiking, service, birding, fishing, star-gazing and a special guided tour of the Kron restoration. Our Friday dinner and program will be a fun and inspiring look at the past, present and future of our wilderness areas.

For questions or more information, contact Nancy Card, NC Wilderness Celebration Chair at OurWildNC@gmail.com or 910-540-3088

Sign up today for our state wide Sierra Club Wilderness Celebrationhttps://ncsierrawilderness50celebration.eventbrite.com.

Wilderness Celebration FlyerNC Sierra Wilderness 50 Celebration Invitation

P.S. Don’t miss out on this special event! Sign up today for our state wide Sierra Club Wilderness Celebrationhttps://ncsierrawilderness50celebration.eventbrite.com.

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.

NC Offshore Wind Power – Areas Identified for Development!

North Carolina offshore wind energy has taken a big step forward! Check out the announcement below.

Perhaps even bigger news is that the Interior Dept Blows Off Koch Stranglehold On Offshore Wind Power! From this article:

Offshore Wind Power For North Carolina

The Koch lobbying effort has been highly active in North Carolina, but it looks like the offshore wind thing is going to happen there, too.

The latest Obama Administration wind announcement (here’s that link again) defines three Wind Energy Areas named Kitty Hawk (122,405 acres), Wilmington West (51,595 acres), and Wilmington East (133,590 acres).

While the sites still have to pass environmental assessments, Interior has taken steps to minimize future Koch-style legal hurdles by pre-clearing the designated areas:

Consistent with the Interior Department’s ‘Smart from the Start’ strategy for offshore wind, each of the three Wind Energy Areas has been designed to make available areas that are attractive for commercial offshore wind development, while also protecting important viewsheds [note: that would be the Koch thing, regarding Cape Wind], sensitive habitats and resources and minimizing space use conflicts with activities such as military operations, shipping and fishing.

NC Wind Areas

Wind Energy Areas identified offshore NC

August 12, 2014 | By Barbara Vergetis Lundin

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has identified three Wind Energy Areas — totaling approximately 307,590 acres — offshore North Carolina for potential commercial wind energy development. This is an important step for North Carolina in harnessing the wind energy potential that lies along the Atlantic Coast.

This announcement builds on BOEM’s recent activities to grow offshore renewable energy through the leasing of Wind Energy Areas, having already awarded five commercial wind energy leases off the Atlantic coast: two non-competitive leases for the proposed Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound and an area off Delaware, and three competitive leases — including two offshore Massachusetts-Rhode Island and another offshore Virginia.

The Wind Energy Areas in the North Carolina announcement include the Kitty Hawk Wind Energy Areas (about 122,405 acres), the Wilmington West Wind Energy Areas (about 51,595 acres) and the Wilmington East Wind Energy Areas (about 133,590 acres).

The three Wind Energy Areas have been designed to make available areas that are attractive for commercial offshore wind development while protecting important viewsheds, sensitive habitats and resources, and minimizing space use conflicts with activities such as military operations, shipping and fishing.

For example, BOEM worked closely with the U.S. Coast Guard to ensure that development in the identified areas would not pose significant risks to navigational safety. BOEM also worked with the National Park Service to address concerns regarding potential visual impacts to the Cape Hatteras National Seashore and the Bodie Island Lighthouse. As a result, BOEM refined the areas originally considered for commercial wind energy development during the process of defining the Wind Energy Areas.

Before any leases are offered for competitive auction, BOEM will complete an Environmental Assessment to determine potential impacts associated with issuing leases and approving site assessment activities in the Wind Energy Areas, in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act. If leases are issued, any proposal for a commercial wind energy facility will require a construction and operations plan and a site-specific environmental analysis.

BOEM expects to hold additional competitive auctions for wind energy areas offshore Massachusetts and New Jersey in the coming year.

For more:- see the announcement

http://www.fierceenergy.com/story/wind-energy-areas-identified-offshore-nc/2014-08-12

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.