scharrison's blog

Not Renewable: Robeson County opposed to new wood pellet plant

This needs to be stopped in its tracks:

A proposed wood pellet plant faces vehement opposition from many Robeson County residents, including elected officials, and environmental advocates, who say the facility would not only pollute the air, but also would be financially risky and environmentally unjust.

The NC Department of Environmental Quality held a virtual public hearing Monday night to receive formal comments on a draft air permit for the plant, owned and operated by Active Energy Renewable Power, in Lumberton. More than 125 people attended, and of the roughly 50 who spoke, just four asked DEQ to approve the air permit; three of them were affiliated with the company.

NC has already lost over a hundred thousand acres of forests due to this industry, and we are now the biggest exporter of wood pellets in the world. Aside from the permitting issues of this newest plant, the cumulative effect on our state needs to be analyzed. Not just by advocates, but by DEQ itself. And let's not forget the environmental justice aspects:

Tuesday Twitter roundup

All hands on deck tomorrow:

They better not start back with their tricks during this pandemic, but I don't trust them to grasp how inappropriate that would be.

FERC authorizes MVP Southgate to begin eminent domain takings in NC

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And you can thank the Trump administration for that heavy hand:

Environmental advocates immediately condemned FERC’s decision. “The Mountain Valley main pipeline has violated water quality standards more than 300 times in Virginia and West Virginia. Yet, this same company plans to extend into North Carolina and bring its reckless construction practices to bear on the communities of these three counties for an entirely unneeded project,” said Ridge Graham, North Carolina field coordinator for Appalachian Voices.

The FERC certificate allows the developer, Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC, to begin using eminent domain to seize private property for construction along the proposed route, even as the pipeline’s viability remains in question.

Elections have consequences, Chapter 98. Donald Trump made it clear in 2015/2016 when he was campaigning that he would push de-regulation hard if elected President, but many of us (including me) did not believe he would be able to do much along those lines. I was wrong. I made the fatal mistake of assuming that legal barriers and the relative autonomy of individual states would hold him back. But he doesn't understand those things, so he just plows right over them:

Juneteenth was not an act, it was a message

A message that was delivered 2 1/2 years after the Emancipation Proclamation:

"The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer."

This is a story about freedom, but it's also a story about how tyrants control information. While many slaves may have heard about the Emancipation Proclamation through the grapevine, it was just one of many rumors that circulated and was soon forgotten. It was only at the conclusion of the war when Union occupational forces landed in Texas that the slaves were presented proof of their liberation. But even with 1,800 Union troops backing the occupation, it took time for Texas' slaves to be freed:

COVID 19 is devastating minority populations in NC

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Forsyth County's LatinX community is suffering at an alarming rate:

COVID-19 is surging through the Latinx community in Forsyth County with a ferocity that lays bare challenging employment and housing realities that make it difficult for many members of the community to protect themselves from the virus.

Latinx people account for 68.1 percent of COVID-19 positive cases recorded by the Forsyth County Public Health Department, but only 13.0 percent of the county’s overall population, according to the most recent Census numbers, although some say that their actual share of the population is higher. Six out of 25 people who have died from COVID-19 in Forsyth County — 24 percent — are Latinx.

I wanted to highlight this particular problem, but I also wanted to give a hat-tip to NC's independent news outlets, which (very often) give us a deeper look into issues that mainstream media tends to fly over. Triad City Beat was formed from former Yes Weekly contributors, and has done some astounding work since then. But they are also under attack by anonymous actors, having their Facebook page closed down a few times in the last week. Here's more on this story:

And here's the cure: Gail Young for HD 83

Jerry Wayne Williamson has all the deets:

Incumbent Republican House member Larry Pittman decided to emulate Trump by saying yet another outrageous thing (he has a history) -- that Black Lives Matter protestors are "vermin" and need to be shot down in the street if they don't obey -- which prompts me to highlight this a.m. his Democratic opponent on the November ballot, Gail Young. I've been following her since she ran the first time in 2018 (in both a Democratic primary and in the General), and she earned a very respectable 47.22% of the vote against Rev. Pittman (yes, he's a preacher of the Gospel, though it's a version I don't recognize).

Lillian's List of North Carolina made her a featured candidate. Now or Never NC, an independent political action committee that backs "top challengers who strongly support public education, redistricting reform, voter access, and who have an appreciation for local governance," has promoted her. The NC League of Conservation Voters, the NC Sierra Club, Equality NC, Moms Demand Action, and Planned Parenthood have all endorsed her.

Learn more about Gail and contribute to her campaign right here.

Tuesday Twitter roundup

This is a serious problem:

Not sure how many of these operations were able to secure government loans to stay afloat, but just from anecdotal evidence I've seen on social media, probably not many.

Parsing the changes to Absentee voting by mail in NC

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It's been made easier, but it's still complex:

You can now request an absentee ballot via e-mail or fax with an electronic signature. And starting in June, you only need one witness to fill out a ballot.

"Making sure elections are safe and secure is more important than ever during this pandemic, and this funding is crucial to that effort," Cooper said in a press release Friday. The state will receive over $10 million in funding from the federal government to prepare for the effects of coronavirus on the 2020 election; $424,000 of that will be spent creating a ballot request website.

You need to e-mail or fax that request to your county board of election (as opposed to state website), and you still have to use the proper request form, and it doesn't appear that you can fill it out electronically (save document and make changes). So you'll need to print it out, fill it out, and then scan it (or fax it) as an image. That is until the above-mentioned "ballot request website" becomes operational. But I wouldn't hold your breath and wait for that this year; NC is notorious for taking a long time in developing new platforms such as this. And now to dispel the rumor of Roy Cooper signing Voter ID back into law:

Quarantine Pods: Your isolation doesn't have to be complete

This is either a brilliant idea or a recipe for disaster:

One idea that some families are considering — and that infectious disease epidemiologists think might be a smart way to balance mental health needs with physical safety — is to create quarantine “pods” or “bubbles,” in which two or three families agree to socialize with one another but no one else. In a pod, families hang out together, often without regard to social distancing — but outside of the pod, they follow recommended social distancing rules.

I will freely admit, I only clicked on this article because of the odd name. I've never been one to explore trendy lifestyle changes, or self-help guru advice, and if Marie Kondo tried to pack up my books, she would be escorted out of my house somewhat rudely. But we're all living this quarantine nightmare right now, and some form of social adaptation is going to be necessary. But before you pick up the phone and call your favorite family, explore these recommendations:

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