Coal Ash Wednesday: Sanford stuck between clay and a hard place

This is one battle they've already lost:

“In the early 90s, Waste Management tried to put a landfill out at the same site that was just purchased by Chara,” Crumpton continued. “Then there was an attempt in 2006 where D H Griffin was trying to site a construction and demolition debris landfill out in the Cumnock area.” Chara is the landfill management company Duke Energy contracted to supervise and operate the coal ash storage sites in Lee and Chatham counties.

The difference between past attempts at putting landfills in Lee County and Duke’s plan to transfer coal ash from Mount Holly and Wilmington to the 410-acre site off Post Office Road is that, pending approval from the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the plan to store coal ash in Lee County is a done deal.

Granted, taking advantage of an already-existing impermeable layer of clay for coal ash storage is smart, but communities should still be able to reject such projects if a majority of the citizens don't approve. Giving Duke Energy carte blanche to put that crap anywhere they want in the state is a recipe for disaster, because money (cost) will eventually be their only concern. That's how we got into this mess in the first place.

Daily dose: anonymous blogger edition

Sen. Tommy Tucker lets loose again, this time target is Aldona Wos (WRAL-TV) -- In the latest chapter in their long-running feud, Senate leaders and DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos exchanged heated words over modernizing the state's archaic death records system. The heated exchange between Sen. Tommy Tucker, R-Union, and Secretary of Health and Human Services Aldona Wos is just the latest skirmish in an intensifying feud between Senate leaders and Gov. Pat McCrory's administration. … "Some of our key technology is about a decade behind the rest of the nation," Wos told lawmakers. "Our customers – our citizens – do not receive the records they need in a timely fashion," she added, saying the current system "does not pass the common sense test.” … "Don't talk down to me," Tucker retorted. "I'm responsible to the taxpayer to see if there's any savings." In April 2013, Tucker made headlines when he lectured Goldsboro News-Argus Publisher Hal Tanner during a legislative committee meeting: “I’m the senator and you are the citizen. You need to be quiet,” was the sartorial retort that went viral.

NC Health Officials Advocate Change To Electronic Death Records (WUNC-FM) -- State health officials would like to update North Carolina's antiquated system of recording deaths. The Tar Heel state uses handwritten or typed documents to declare a death. Those forms are hand-delivered through several stops from the funeral home to state records in Raleigh -- which can take at least three months. Secretary of Health and Human Services Aldona Wos told lawmakers today her department wants to move to a fully electronic system: "The reason to do this is not a matter of saving money on one or two or fifty salaries, this has to happen for the future of the state. We have to be able to identify who died. And we have to be able to do it very quickly." Wos says that an electronic system is a better way for the state to receive the information and it's easier for families. The system of recording births is fully electronic in North Carolina.

Rep. Chuck McGrady in Twitter war with anonymous liberal blogger (Raleigh News & Observer) -- In dozens of tweets over the course of several days, NC Rep. Chuck McGrady has been in a war of words with an anonymous liberal blogger. The debate began on Saturday with a post from BackwardNC, which describes itself as “devoted to chronicling the state of North Carolina’s inexorable backward march, led by ... the conservative Republican army.” The blogger lobbed a general complaint about Republican legislators. “Did you hear about the moderate Republican who respects Democrats and works with them on solutions? Yeah, neither did we,” the tweet read. McGrady, a Hendersonville Republican, responded in disagreement a few minutes later. “Funny thing is that most of the Dems voted for my coal ash bill,” he tweeted. That launched an argument over whether the coal ash legislation

The lamest of ducks: Kay Hagan

No surprise, but still. So disappointing.

Ten Democrats have joined Landrieu in co-sponsoring the legislation approving the pipeline: Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Kay Hagan (N.C.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Jon Tester (Mont.), Mark Warner (Va.), Mark Begich (Alaska), Joe Donnelly (Ind.) and John Walsh (Mont.).

Always a corporatist.

Voter registration challenge in Wake

I learn something new every day.

Today, the Wake Board of Elections (BOE) today discussed Greg Flynn’s challenge to Jay DeLancy’s voter registration. Mr. DeLancy leads the Voter Integrity Project, a group dedicated to the proposition that all voter registrations are suspect and probably fraudulent unless it can be determined that the voter voted Republican. Mr. Flynn had reason to send a Registered Mail-Return Receipt Requested letter to Mr. DeLancy and, Lo! and Behold! it was returned. Did Registered Voter Jay DeLancy actually live at that address?? A challenge ensued, with the returned letter as evidence.

You get what you vote for

The good folks of Lee County are up in arms about Duke Energy & Pollution's plan to dump coal ash in Sanford and Moncure.

If the comments made during a meeting inside the Lee County Board of Commissioners Room Monday night are any indication, Lee County residents do not want coal ash in their backyards.

“Who invited this idea,” one resident asked. “Why weren’t we notified sooner? And what is the purpose of bringing coal ash to our area?”

“If the coal ash dumping is so desirable, then why aren't the CEOs from Duke Power and their neighbors fighting to have it in their backyards,” another resident said.

Daily dose: Starve the beast edition

Much hand-wringing this week over the catastrophic budget cuts coming next year. Tough tomatoes. This is the Republican plan: "starve the beast." And the only target of budgetary significance is public education. To all those holier-than-thou white men who voted for the GOP two weeks ago, well played. Maybe the baby Jesus will come riding up on a dinosaur to save the day.

Looming Budget Crisis in N.C. Following Tax Cuts (Public News Service) -- North Carolina lawmakers are likely enjoying some downtime after the legislative session and midterm election, but experts predict a tough session waiting for them on their return to Raleigh. A report from the Office of the State Controller indicates tax revenues are down by almost $400 million compared with this same time last year - a six percent drop in revenue. Alexandra Sirota, director of the North Carolina Budget and Tax Center, says it's not a problem the State Assembly will be able to ignore in January. "This is a serious issue," she says. "It's self imposed in that policymakers chose to reduce our revenue. Now they're going to have to make choices about some pretty deep cuts.”

In The South, Obamacare Advocates Try to Outmaneuver Opponents (NBC News) – In North Carolina, there’s a staff of dozens of people, led by a director, who are in charge of getting people enrolled in Obamacare. The operation, which serves all of the state’s 100 counties, includes a toll-free number where you can call and set up an appointment with an Obamacare specialist. The staff meets constantly to see if its methods are working, and they are getting results: the state had the ninth highest enrollment in the nation. Here’s what may surprise you: none of these people work for the state of North Carolina, the federal government or any of North Carolina’s cities. North Carolina may be a purple state during presidential elections, but its state politics right now are very red. The state legislature passed a bill barring North Carolina from expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, which Republican Gov. Pat McCrory has opposed anyway. The state has also not set up its own health care exchange and has done little to encourage ACA enrollment. … North Carolina is at the forefront of a strategy being employed in conservative states across the country: Obamacare advocates working around their state governments to implement the law. In Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Texas and other states, there is intense organizing by coalitions of groups to sign people up for Obamacare, which started open enrollment on Nov. 15 for its second year.

McCrory’s NCDOT plans to set up toll lanes in Charlotte (AP) -- — While controversy has swirled about toll lanes for Interstate 77 north of Charlotte, the N.C. Department of Transportation is working on a plan to set up toll lanes on one of the city's major city thoroughfares by the end of 2016.

McCrory’s borrow & spend program: DOT's urban loops depend on deficit spending (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Gov. Pat McCrory broke ground on Winston-Salem’s long-delayed I-74 Northern Beltway last week in a shiny-shovels ceremony made possible, his office said, by the Urban Loop Acceleration Plan. The What Plan? Around North Carolina, “urban loop acceleration” is a self-contradictory expression – like jumbo shrimp. … The governor and his state Department of Transportation want to find ways to build more urban loops. McCrory recently expanded the acceleration options to include three flavors of borrowed money. We’ll call them toll bonds, GARVEE bonds and – thanks to a blackout on details – McCrory’s mystery bonds.


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