scharrison's blog

Coal Ash Wednesday: Judge refuses to dismiss lawsuit against Duke Energy

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When you have yet to clean up your mess, but still want to go outside and play:

A Duke Energy lawyer told a trio of judges on the state Court of Appeals the lawsuit filed by the state's environmental protection agency and joined by conservation groups should be dismissed. Coal ash, the residue left after decades of burning coal to generate power, can contain toxic materials like arsenic and mercury.

The company was in court in part because Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway has refused to dismiss the lawsuit. Ridgeway has indicated he would review the remediation plan the state Department of Environmental Quality approves, then decide independently whether the agency is requiring enough from Duke Energy to clean up the pollution, Long said.

It's no coincidence this legal gambit is taking place 13 days before Duke Energy's first substantial hearing on their massive rate hike request before the NC Utilities Commission. That case contains many "findings of fact" on Duke Energy's negligence in coal ash management, and if they can make that go away, it will strengthen their argument for a rate increase while severely weakening the opposition to it. And just to give a voice to those who will be adversely affected by this unreasonable action:

Patrick McHenry goes swimming with the loan sharks

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Proving that weasels can swim if the mood hits them:

If you ever harbor any questions as to what Trumpism looks like in all of its corrupt, dog-eat-dog, predatory splendor, there are two classic examples from our nation’s capital today to jog your memory.

Exhibit One is the laughably entitled “Protecting Consumers’ Access to Credit Act of 2017” — a bill on which the House of Representatives is scheduled to vote today at the behest of its chief sponsor, North Carolina congressman Patrick McHenry. As you probably surmised, the measure has nothing to do with protecting consumers and is instead a blatant attempt by the payday lending industry’s favorite congressman to revive the discredited and predatory practice nationwide.

Just to give you an idea of the level of corruption that creeps in with some of these "career" lawmakers, McHenry receives around $100,000 from the payday lending industry every election cycle. They may not always be his top contributors, but they are as reliable as the sun coming up every morning. This pay-to-play nonsense is so blatant it has sparked more than one formal complaint filed with the Office of Congressional Ethics:

Birds of a feather: Rob Porter's domestic abuse was no secret in Trump's White House

By all rights he should be rotting in jail:

Colbie Holderness, Porter’s first wife, and Jennifer Willoughby, Porter’s second wife, both told the FBI their marriages had ended because of a pattern of physical and emotional abuse. According to their accounts, supported by photos, contemporaneous reporting to others, and a blog post written by Willoughby last April, Porter kicked these women, he punched and choked one of these women, he blackened one of these women’s eyes. He berated and insulted these women. Police were called.

But Rob Porter is also white, and the son of a prominent academic and thinker. He went to Harvard and Oxford, and he had a high-ranking job in the Oval Office, and was reportedly pressing for a higher one. He was dating Hope Hicks, one of the president’s closest confidantes. So nobody did a thing about the allegations.

This literally makes me furious. The Trump connection is an important aspect, but the failures by law enforcement from the local to the national level are indicative of a sickness in the very heart of our society. They like to talk about how much terrorism they've prevented, but terrorist attacks happen every few minutes in America. Not by strangers from some exotic country, but by "loved ones," which makes it even more heinous. And we as progressives need to stop paying so much attention and lip-service to the "preponderance of evidence" approach when these things happen:

Tuesday Twitter roundup

Not bad for the first day of filing:

But that does leave 55 House seats to push for in the next 15 days. Roll up your sleeves.

Candidate filing begins today for 2018 (Mid-Term) Election

And you don't have to be a crotchety old man to ride the Blue Wave:

State Senator
At least 25 years of age by the date of the general election
Residence in state for two years prior to election
Residence in district for one year immediately prior to general election1
Registered to vote in the district and eligible to vote for the office

State House Representative
At least 21 years of age by the date of the general election
Residence in district for one year immediately prior to general election2
Registered to vote in the district and eligible to vote for the office

If I'm reading those footnotes correctly, the one year residency requirement is waived if your District is one that was "fixed" (which map, I don't know), but you still need to have set up a residency by the end of the filing period (Feb 28). Here are some other requirements for candidates, and those of you who have announced early need to pay close attention:

Trump blocks release of Democrats' memo on Carter Page investigation

A blatant effort to conceal damning evidence of Russian involvement with his administration:

In a letter to House intelligence committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., the White House said it could not release the Democrats' memo because the Justice Department "has identified portions...which it believes would create especially significant concerns for the national security and law enforcement interests."

That explanation stands in stark contrast to his release of the GOP memo last Friday. The president approved its release over the strong objections of the FBI, which warned that it could jeopardize national security. The president's refusal to release the Democrats' memo also goes against the committee's unanimous, bipartisan decision Monday to make it public.

Trump is playing an extremely dangerous game here, and it's a good bet he doesn't realize it. Mueller is a lot more intelligent than he is, and is likely watching this circus to see which animals might turn on their trainers. Or which animals are performing too well. It's complicated, which means Trump is way out of his depth. In order to understand just how silly and off-topic this dueling memo thing is, you need to grasp the significance of the FBI's target of those investigations, Carter Page himself:

Urban Institute slams NC Republicans for mistreatment of unemployed

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That "Rainy Day Fund" is dripping with blood:

A 2013 state law cut both the size and duration of unemployment benefits in North Carolina. Lawmakers said they made the change because the trust fund that pays for the program had a $2 billion deficit.

The fund has recovered and had $3.17 billion in the bank as of December, but that was a result of “a radical reduction in the generosity of your program to the claimants,” said Wayne Vroman of The Urban Institute, a Washington-based economic think tank that studied the state’s unemployment insurance program.

That's actually a $5 billion dollar swing, generated on the backs of those already struggling to survive. Five billion that would have been almost exclusively injected back into the economy, helping untold others laboring on the margins. More depressing and infuriating numbers:

Another GOP power grab under scrutiny by the court today

When your arrogance far outweighs your common sense:

A three-judge panel will take up motions to dispose of two issues in the separation of powers case, Cooper v. Berger. The first issue involves House Bill 239, a measure that reduced the Court of Appeals from 15 judges to 12, and the second involves a voucher mandate in the budget bill, Senate Bill 257. Cooper argues that Section 1 of HB239 purports to shorten three appellate judicial terms to fewer than eight years. He asks the court to declare it unconstitutional and therefore “void and of no effect.”

As for the voucher mandate, Cooper argues that it’s unconstitutional because the General Assembly mandated what he could include in his base budget. “By mandating what the Governor must include in his proposed budget, the General Assembly is exercising core executive power in violation of separation of powers,” the complaint states.

The key word there is "proposed." The Governor's budget proposal is non-binding. The General Assembly is free to write a completely different Budget, which incorporates little or nothing from what the Governor asks for. By dictating what the Governor must ask for, this bill amounts to a contradictory and oxymoronic "forced bi-partisanship." Allowing Republicans to disingenuously claim "Both we and the Governor support this funding." This is the kind of crap military juntas in third-world countries pull to control their civilian figurehead leaders. And the fact that it has become second nature to NC's GOP cabal should scare the living hell out of everybody.

Legislative malpractice: Using school children to extort money and power

See below for excerpts of the bill's text:

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