Thursday, April 24, 2014 - 10:14am

When bad state statutes rear their ugly heads:

The U.S. Supreme Court is considering a case today that could have major impacts on lawsuits against Camp Lejeune over contaminated drinking water. CTS Corporation v. Waldburger deals with North Carolina law and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).

But CTS disagrees, because state law requires lawsuits involving real property to be brought within three years of discovering injury or 10 years of the defendant's last act. If the Supreme Court upholds the state's statues, it would make lawsuits filed against Camp Lejeune for contaminated drinking water from the 1950's to 1985 invalid.

As you may recall, the CTS contamination of local wells was detailed in this letter we published a few years ago. It often takes years for trichloroethylene to migrate in the groundwater just a few thousand feet, but it's still all kinds of nasty when it arrives in your drinking glass. This (NC) statute should have been done away with a long time ago, but I don't see NC Republicans doing that particular job anytime soon.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014 - 11:02am

And they'll be reaching into your wallet to fix their mistakes:

The largest U.S. utility owner told a North Carolina legislative commission that if it were required to excavate and relocate all its ash in the state and convert to an all-dry handling system, costs would reach $7 billion to $10 billion and take as long as three decades.

“The costs of cleaning up the waste from fuel from coal should be a ratepayer cost and not a shareholder cost,” said Kit Konolige, an analyst with BGC Partners LP in New York. “The traditional regulatory compact, the cost of fuel and cost of cleanup of fuel, should be passed through ratepayers. It really shouldn’t come out of shareholders pockets except to the extent that the company has done something wrong.”

The company has done something wrong, or the toxic mess wouldn't be leaking out of every coal ash pond in the state. Regardless of the Federal/State laws governing coal ash disposal, both the ratepayers and the shareholders have a certain expectation that Duke will stay on top of the science and take steps to avoid contaminating the ground and surface waters. That expectation was not remotely met, so the cost of cleanup needs to be borne by those who directly profited from Duke Energy's mismanagement, the owners. They "shared" in the profits, now they need to "share" in the cleanup.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - 10:03am

We'll begin with some election year hyperbole:

A trend that was brought about by the devastating deregulation of the financial industry by free-market nut-jobs like yourself. By the way, Kay's last name only has five letters and "e" isn't one of them. It ain't hard to keep up with.

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Monday, April 21, 2014 - 10:28am

Seeking to cash in on the river of right-wing money flowing into NC:

Dallas Woodhouse, the sometimes fiery former director of the state chapter of Americans for Prosperity, is launching a political nonprofit organization to bolster the conservative tide in North Carolina.
Woodhouse will announce on Monday that he has formed Carolina Rising to support free market, education and government reform policies.

“Right now North Carolina is witness to an astounding set of economic trends,” Woodhouse said in statement that will be issued Monday. “Our unemployment rate is falling faster than any other state, and our business competitiveness ranking is skyrocketing. At Carolina Rising, our goal is simple: Make sure those trends continue and North Carolina’s economy continues to grow.” Woodhouse said the organization will counter attempts by “proponents of big government” and the “increasingly radical political agenda of the liberal left.”

Pot, meet kettle. Seriously dude, your "free market, education and government reform policies" are the epitome of radical, using unproven theories and rhetorical devices to tear down and reconstruct the fabric of our public policy. And it's not working. In fact, people like you are having to bend the truth backwards in your efforts to claim success. But go right ahead, I look forward to exposing your stupidity.

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Sunday, April 20, 2014 - 11:12am

Trying to sever residential Solar from the grid:

The Koch brothers, anti-tax activist Grover Norquist and some of the nation's largest power companies have backed efforts in recent months to roll back state policies that favor green energy. The conservative luminaries have pushed campaigns in Kansas, North Carolina and Arizona, with the battle rapidly spreading to other states.

The institute has warned power companies that profits could erode catastrophically if current policies and market trends continue. If electricity companies delay in taking political action, the group warned in a report, "it may be too late to repair the utility business model." The American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, a membership group for conservative state lawmakers, recently drafted model legislation that targeted net metering. The group also helped launch efforts by conservative lawmakers in more than half a dozen states to repeal green energy mandates.

The "utility business model" is in no danger from renewable energy. Companies like Duke Energy have seen a vast increase in the amount of power generated from these sources, and their profits are healthier than ever. And for Conservatives to fight net-metering makes no sense at all. It is (by far) the most efficient means of handling Solar PV, as any excess power generated is used by somebody else on the grid. Then again, their claims of "efficiency" may just be another of the masks they wear to fool voters.

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Saturday, April 19, 2014 - 10:54am

The NC Supreme Court is not as supreme as it thinks:

A year ago, the state Supreme Court struck down a rate increase that the state Utilities Commission awarded to Duke Energy Corp. and ordered the panel to reconsider the increase in light of its impact on consumers. Now, Cooper is appealing the same increase to the high court, arguing that the Utilities Commission ignored the ruling.

“The court has already ruled once that consumers must be taken into account when setting utility profits but it still hasn’t happened,” Cooper said in a statement. “Even when given a second chance to get it right, the commission didn’t really consider consumers and approved the exact same rate hike.”

And as long as we allow this flawed formula to continue, where a rule-making commission is tasked with being concerned about profits for wealthy shareholders, many of whom do not even live in North Carolina, the unfairness will be ever-present. Any other private industry would need to dip into profits or borrow to make infrastructure improvements, which would force them to calculate the true need and ROI for such, and Duke Energy should be no different.

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Friday, April 18, 2014 - 11:15am

When the truth doesn't fit your narrative, just change it:

House Speaker Thom Tillis’ claim to have fired two staff caught up in a lobbyist sex scandal in 2012 doesn’t stand up to scrutiny or the public record, and his campaign should remove it from North Carolina airwaves.

The ad, which has more than $500,000 backing it according to Roll Call, contains no backup to the claim that Tillis "fired" his staffers. And Tillis’ own spokesman has repeatedly refused to make the same claim -- that Tillis "fired" the staff in question -- when discussing the ad. The Raleigh News & Observer, upon asking for a justification of the firing claim, was told that Tillis “initiated the action of asking for their resignation.”

If Tillis did "ask" for their resignations, which is not a foregone conclusion, it's only because the affairs were made public and forced his hand. But over and above the parsing of words, the intent of the ad itself is false: to make people believe he dealt with the problem in a rapid and harsh fashion. Here's a little historical context which completely undermines that message:

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Thursday, April 17, 2014 - 12:32pm

And more high-dollar outside contracts:

Davis and DHHS Sec. Aldona Wos told lawmakers they have hired a consultant to help streamline the agency and help make budget forecasts more reliable. "We've got here another single-bid $3 million contract," Tucker said, expressing frustration that a large agency with thousands of staffers could not have found workers to do such a review.

Wos said that DHHS' staff has shrunk and didn't have the ability to both handle day-to-day tasks as well as plan for the future. "This was an example of success. if this was able to be done by the employees of DHHS over the past 14 years, it would have done," Wos said. She added, "We would love to be at our desk working but we are here to provide you with the information you requested."

Shorter version: "It's not my fault, it's your fault." Apparently Republicans in the NCGA don't understand how job evaluations amongst the 1% really work: you fuck up, you move up, and the more money you lose in mismanaging your organization, the bigger your bonus and golden parachute. I shouldn't have to explain these things.

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