scharrison's blog

Duke Energy to add more carcinogens to already impaired waters

I guess they're not worried about the EPA anymore:

As part of its 2015 criminal plea agreement, Duke Energy admitted that bromide discharged into rivers and lakes from its coal ash operations have caused carcinogens to form in downstream drinking water systems. Some of these carcinogens are so dangerous that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has set their health protection goal at zero, meaning that people should not be exposed to any level of these pollutants.

Yet instead of taking responsible action to halt these bromide discharges, Duke Energy is proposing to add even more bromides to its coal ash basins, through changes to its coal plant operations. Duke Energy claims that the additional bromides will reduce emissions of mercury from its smokestacks. The utility is choosing this bromide production despite the fact that other modern, widely-used technologies—such as baghouses—are available to control mercury emissions without causing carcinogens downstream.

It's actually no comfort in realizing this is probably happening all over the United States, in the wake of the Trump admin's systematic destruction of the EPA. Hopefully our new DEQ will be able to bring some relief from the inevitable deterioration of our environment, but they've been cut to the bone also.

Trump's foreign "policy" is both clumsy and dangerous

The Tweeter-In-Chief needs a time-out in the corner:

Trump’s public appearances with Merkel betrayed an awkwardness between the two leaders, including during two widely remarked upon appearances in the White House. In one, the leaders failed to stage a handshake for cameras in the Oval Office, and in another Merkel looked baffled by comments made by Trump during a joint press conference. Before the visit Trump had repeatedly called Merkel’s policies “insane” and a “disaster” for Germany.

Trump’s second tweet accused Germany directly of not paying enough to the security alliance. In a joint press conference on Friday, Trump expressed “strong support” for Nato but reiterated his belief that member nations do not contribute a “fair share”. “Many nations owe vast sums of money from past years and it is very unfair to the United States,” he said. “These nations must pay what they owe.”

Welp, this is apparently what a whole lot of Americans wanted, a "leader" who speaks his mind, even if what he says has little roots in the truth and will very likely drag us into multiple military conflicts before his next State of the Union address. What Trump doesn't understand could fill a supertanker, but one of those things is this: The effectiveness of NATO as a deterrent has always been the unflinching support of the United States for its treaty partners. If that support is called into question, especially by the US President, the deterrent itself evaporates:

The battles over Durham-Orange Light Rail project continue

And the naysayers are getting creative:

To kill the project, opponents know they can’t appear to be anti-transit. Instead, they must convince you there are better, cheaper options. In their latest campaign, opponents revive their old claim that bus rapid transit (BRT), which uses buses on dedicated roadways instead of trains on light rail tracks, is inherently better and dramatically cheaper. But, they say, stubborn train lovers at GoTriangle refuse to examine a bus alternative.

Dedicated roadways for buses makes about as much sense as personal "pods" that individuals can hop into like their own little taxicabs. The traffic issues in driving a car from downtown Durham to downtown Chapel Hill and back have become horrendous, and further development *is* going to happen, whether people want it to or not. Between the two hospitals (Duke, UNC) alone, there are some 17,000 employees. That's not counting other University staff from the schools themselves. Light rail may not solve all the transportation/parking problems, but it is a critical element of the solution. Here's more from Orange Politics' Molly de Marco:

Avangrid takes first step in Kitty Hawk offshore wind farm project

Where there's wind blowing, there's clean power to be had:

Avangrid Renewables won the bid Thursday to lease 122,405 acres off the Outer Banks coast for a wind farm. The company competed against three others before offering the winning amount of $9.1 million, according to a release from the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. Avangrid Renewables also built a land-based wind farm of about 22,000 acres near Elizabeth City.

Avangrid will have to set up testing towers and other equipment to assess the site before submitting a construction plan over the next approximately five years, including how many wind towers to build and how far apart to build them. The federal government will review the project and hold public hearings before construction can begin.

I am a little concerned that much of the permitting will be overseen by the Trump administration, and no doubt the puppets of the fossil fuel industry will be seeking creative ways to disrupt the process. But we'll be keeping an eye on that stuff, so they better pack more than just a lunch. Here's more about the company and its dedication to environmental stewardship:

Joel Ford's battles with LGBT activists turns ludicrous

But the truth is, he's been dropping turds on his own party for some time:

On Tuesday N.C. Sen Joel Ford (D-Charlotte) had a strange, tense exchange with LGBT activists who criticized his record on LGBT issues. He responded to the activists with a GIF of a dog defecating in the snow. This led Matt Comer, a Charlotte-based LGBT activist, to ask if that was appropriate behavior for a state senator.

Ford, a more conservative Democrat, is used to criticism from the LGBT community. Last year he was one of the few Democrats to support a Republican bill to allow magistrates to recuse themselves from performing same-sex marriages. This session he has been one of the few Democrats to support a repeal of HB2 that would put LGBT protections to local referendum votes. But the criticism has turned up to 11 since Ford announced he’d be running against Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts, a fellow Democrat, as she seeks re-election.

Joel Ford is so full of himself he doesn't get the symbolism of posting that GIF, that he himself is the turd in that particular scenario, not the creature dropping it. Purely speculation on my part, but I believe he is trying to carve out a niche for himself as a "maverick," not one to follow the lead of others. Which is fine to a certain point. But I also believe he is trying to benefit from and maybe even exacerbate the confusion and conflicting beliefs in the African-American community over LGBT issues. At its core, this is the politics of division, not inclusion, and all parties will emerge in a weaker position because of it.

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