scharrison's blog

Coal Ash Wednesday: Duke would cap the #2 worst contaminating site in the nation

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Their judgment simply cannot be trusted:

A new environmental report points to a threat to ground water in 39 states, including a local facility as the second worst in the nation. The report confirms the worries people living near Duke Energy's Allen Steam Station have been concerned about for years.

The report claims coal ash dumps in Belmont are leaking cobalt into groundwater, more than 500 times above safe levels, along with other pollutants. Exposure to cobalt can cause thyroid damage.

It can also lead to cardiomyopathy and blood thickening, which are even worse than they sound. Throw Arsenic into that cocktail, and you've got a drink that's definitely not recommended by doctors. But the real moral to this story: This is one of the sites that Duke Energy has decided could be capped in place safely, and is now suing DEQ to block its ruling to excavate it. From the report itself:

Tuesday Twitter roundup

Rape culture just got a kick in the pants:

Hopefully that unanimous vote will keep the NC Senate from messing around with it...

Mental Health Protection Act: It's (long past) time to ban Conversion Therapy

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These children don't need to be "fixed," they need to be loved for who they are:

The bill (HB 516/SB 426) would protect young people in North Carolina from the discredited practice of “conversion therapy,” which purports to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Techniques can be extreme and barbaric, including institutionalizing young people against their will, using electroshock treatment and encouraging young people to feel shame about a central part of themselves. The emotional and psychological trauma inflicted on LGBTQ minors often follows them for the rest of their lives.

It's hard to believe we're still having this discussion in 2019, but here we are. I don't have a problem with "religious freedom," until it crosses the line into abuse. And that includes "blasting," where a bunch of zealots stand around a young person yelling in their ears. Don't take my word for it, listen to the survivors:

Raleigh's gentrification gains national spotlight

The whitening of former black neighborhoods:

In the places where white households are moving, reinvestment is possible mainly because of the disinvestment that came before it. Many of these neighborhoods were once segregated by law and redlined by banks. Cities neglected their infrastructure. The federal government built highways that isolated them and housing projects that were concentrated in them. Then banks came peddling predatory loans.

“A single-family detached house with a yard within a mile of downtown in any other part of the world is probably the most expensive place to live,” said Kofi Boone, a professor at North Carolina State University’s College of Design. Here, because of that history, it’s a bargain. And while that briefly remains true in South Park, the disinvestment and reinvestment are visible side by side on any given street.

This is one of those issues that is not cut-and-dried:

Big Brother is watching: Election observer bill goes too far

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When conspiracy theorists are allowed all up in your bidness:

Election observers shall have the explicit right to:(1) Begin observation duties from the time the judge enters the polling location until all ballot containers are officially sealed and the voting enclosure is secured for the day.1

(2) Hear the name and address of each voter when the voter first announces the voter's name at the initial check-in table and ask any election official to repeat the name or address of the voter if the observer was unable to hear the voter's name or address when it was initially announced.

This is wrong on so many levels I don't know where to start:

UNC students walk out of class to protest police behavior

Talk about your misplaced priorities:

Demonstrators gathered on the steps of Wilson at 1:30 p.m. for a demonstration against police brutality. Lindsay Ayling, a graduate student in the Department of History and an organizer of the event, explained why the protest was necessary. “Pretty much the entire year, police have been brutal to anti-racists while protecting white supremacists,” Ayling said.

Those who gathered began chanting, echoing shouts including, “Who do you serve? Who do you protect,” “Ain’t no power like the power of the people ‘cause the power of the people don’t stop” and “Cops and Klan go hand-in-hand.”

Bolding mine, because that goes to the core of this problem. While a handful of the anti-racists that have demonstrated may come from off-campus, the majority are students and teachers. On the other hand, the pro-Confederate folks hail from other counties, if not other states. There should be no question as to "who" the UNC Police should choose to protect when those two groups come together, the ones who are paying tuition to attend the school is the obvious answer. But apparently that (simple) choice is beyond their capacity to understand:

Lawsuit filed to stop Mid-Currituck Bridge to OBX

Apparently 20 years of study actually doesn't produce good ideas:

The bridge would lead to growth in undisturbed areas along the northern Outer Banks, increase pollution in the sound and surrounding habitat and damage the ecosystem that helps handle storm surge, flooding and sea level rise, according to the suit filed by the North Carolina Wildlife Federation and the No Mid-Currituck Bridge Concerned Citizens, among others. The Federal Highway Administration officially approved the project last month following more than 20 years of environmental impact studies, public hearings and delays.

The 6.2-mile, two lane toll bridge would cross the Currituck Sound connecting Corolla and Aydlett and cross a swamp before intersecting with U.S. 158 south of Coinjock. It would cost an estimated $440 million.

I've never driven that route, so I don't know how bad the traffic situation is. It appears to be pretty bad, with vehicles idling for hours as they creep along. But in my opinion, ramping up growth *anywhere* on the Outer Banks is an insanely bad idea, and one healthy storm surge could turn this into a $440 million bridge to nowhere. SELC is (as usual) right on top of this situation, with much better (and cheaper) alternatives to the bridge:

Tuesday Twitter roundup

Trying to head off a huge mistake:

This is sounding more and more like organized crime, not "school choice":

Earth Day 2019: Judge blocks Trump effort to mine coal on public lands

This is a big win, folks:

The decision, by Judge Brian Morris of the United States District Court of the District of Montana, does not reinstate President Barack Obama’s 2016 freeze on new coal mining leases on public lands. That policy was part of an effort by the Obama administration to curtail the burning of coal, a major producer of greenhouse gases contributing to climate change.

But the court ruling does say that the 2017 Trump administration policy, enacted by former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, to overturn Mr. Obama’s coal mining ban did not include adequate studies of the environmental effects of the mining, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act of 1970, or NEPA, one of the nation’s bedrock environmental laws. “Federal Defendants’ decision not to initiate the NEPA process proves arbitrary and capricious,” Judge Morris wrote.

Bolding mine, because that is the most succinct definition of Trump's behavior I've seen. We don't know what he's going to do from day to day (arbitrary), but it almost always involves some little pissing contest he was drawn into (capricious). And apparently nothing gets under his skin more that previous policy moves by Obama:

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