Wednesday, August 20, 2014 - 9:54am

Stick a Band-Aid on it and do a victory dance:

The legislation mandates that ash be excavated at only four of Duke’s 14 North Carolina coal-fired power plants. “Low-risk” ponds can be capped in place without removing ash. A moratorium on Duke seeking rate hikes to pay for coal ash cleanup would expire in January 2015, as the Senate bill had stated. The House had pushed for the moratorium to end in December 2016.

Contaminated groundwater has been found near ash ponds at all of Duke’s coal plants. The Southern Environmental Law Center said the committee changes seek “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,” the center said.

This isn't a compromise bill, it's the bastard child of a horrible plan and an already compromised plan. And the only reason it's moving forward is political in nature, so Republicans won't get punished in November for doing nothing.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014 - 6:07pm

Hat-tip to Chris Fitzsimon for finding this:

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014 - 9:31am

The sacrificial lamb bleats:

I hope you haven't eaten yet, because this is seriously nauseating:

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Monday, August 18, 2014 - 9:39am

Protecting the business environment:

The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources asked for the extension because additional time is needed to understand the potential impacts of the rule on the environment and the economy, John Skvarla, secretary of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources said in a letter sent this week to the EPA.

“Our review to date has revealed that the rule will have a significant impact on electric power providers and rate payers,” Skvarla’s letter states. “We believe the proposal creates a regulatory scheme that affects all aspects of how electricity is generated, dispatched, and used by businesses and consumers while creating a new EPA oversight of every state and local authority involved in these complex issues. EPA’s current comment period deadline of October 16, 2014, simply does not provide sufficient time to understand this far-reaching and complex proposal.”

For a climate-change denier who believes fossil fuels are a renewable resource, I'm not sure there is a sufficient amount of time to understand this, or any other "complex" issue.

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Sunday, August 17, 2014 - 10:21am

Throw 'em in jail first, ask questions later:

Meanwhile, in North Carolina, a sheriff, Terry Johnson of Alamance County, is on trial this month, accused by the Justice Department of rampant racial-profiling abuses against Latinos. Two retired supervising deputies testified at the trial that Sheriff Johnson had told officers not to give Latino drivers traffic citations, but to take them directly to jail.

Starting in 2007, Sheriff Johnson was a partner in the federal 287(g) program, which trains local officials as immigration agents. The government revoked that agreement in 2012. As with Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Ariz., an inveterate immigrant victimizer whose 287(g) authority was belatedly curtailed, Sheriff Johnson seems to be a prime exhibit of the dangers of outsourcing immigration authority to peace officers who don’t get the memo, or heed the Constitution.

No doubt many of my fellow Alamance County-ites consider Terry Johnson some kind of hero, but I'm sure that would change if a burned-out tail-light landed them in jail until somebody checked and double-checked their papers. Which (of course) will never happen to these navel-gazers, since they are sporting the preferred skin color.

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Friday, August 15, 2014 - 11:23am

From the good folks at NC Policywatch:

[Updated: The Senate adopted the conference committee report as its first act this morning]. As state lawmakers prepare to gather this morning for what could be the final day of the 2013-14 General Assembly, it should come as no surprise that one of the final acts is likely to be the enactment of a polluter “wish list” that was crafted mostly out of public view.

According to environmental protection advocates who finally got a chance to begin reviewing the last minute conference committee report that emerged to Senate Bill 734 last night, the legislation contains at least a dozen gifts to industry. Many of the changes are technical, wonky and even minor on their own, but make no mistake, the cumulative effect will be to weaken environmental protection, hasten the development of more open land and wetlands and further imperil our increasingly fragile environment.

You're right, I'm not surprised. Republicans are no longer even attempting to appear as if they're acting in the public's interest, they're just going for broke. That's not confidence in the legislation they're cramming down our throats, it's confidence in their gerrymandered safety.

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Thursday, August 14, 2014 - 5:45pm

Which is really not that stealthy:

The question you should be asking, Tim, is where did Dallas get the $1.5 million to run this commercial?

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Thursday, August 14, 2014 - 10:25am

If it won't bend to your will, break it:

Without a doubt, these rulings have irked conservative lawmakers. But instead of examining the constitutionality of their policies, or allowing more amendments and debate, Republicans in the General Assembly have now fundamentally altered the court system to protect themselves.

This year's state budget contained a provision, added just the week before Gov. Pat McCrory signed it into law on Aug. 7, requiring a three-judge panel to rule on any constitutional challenge to state law. North Carolina is now the only state with such a judicial system. The new system not only helps shield state law from challenges, but also puts more power in the hand of an increasingly partisan and politicized judiciary.

You better believe, if it was Democrats pulling this tyrannical stunt, JLF and Civitas would be stirring up the snake-flag-waving peasantry into a frothing-at-the-mouth display of outrage and barely-contained violence. But since it's Republicans doing it? Crickets.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014 - 10:58am

NC Senate Republicans want you to pay for the cleanup:

N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg) says the General Assembly may be ready to act as early as next week on coal ash legislation that stalled last week over differences between Senate and House versions of the bill. He says negotiators are working on consensus language to iron out differences over a House provision in the legislation. And he believes a solution can be found by Aug. 14, when the House and Senate expect to be in session, “or thereabouts.”

House conferees had agreed to accept a Senate provision that allows Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK) to seek permission starting in January to charge customers for the cost of cleaning up its 33 ash ponds across the state. But, in return, they wanted to change some of the Senate’s language on treatment of ponds that were considered low-risk.

Unless I'm mistaken, Duke Energy already has the ability to seek rate increases from the North Carolina Utilities Commission for costs they incur. Any legislative language added now won't just give them the permission to do this, it will tilt that decision-making process heavily in their favor. Something a super-majority of NC citizens don't believe should happen. This is not a compromise, it's a betrayal of ratepayers, and it will be a serious campaign issue for those who support it.

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