NC GOP

Coal Ash Wednesday: Groups challenge proposed coal ash dumps

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If It's such a good idea, why the shortcuts?

The groups—the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL), Chatham Citizens Against Coal Ash Dump (CCACAD) and EnvironmentaLEE—filed a petition for a contested case hearing with the state's Office of Administrative Hearings Monday. The office hears legal cases against state agencies such as DENR.

In their legal challenge, the nonprofits say DENR's actions will have a "significant and adverse impact on the health and well-being" of the environmental groups' members, as well as their families and their property. The challenge also claims that DENR acted "erroneously" and regulated the projects as mine reclamation projects rather than landfills. "Communities targeted for coal ash disposal deserve a regulatory agency that has their best interests at heart, not what is in the best interest of Duke Energy," said BREDL community organizer Therese Vick in a statement. "DENR had sufficient reason to deny the permits, and they did not."

I realize other groups want this to proceed as quickly as possible, so the leaking from various older ponds will be brought to a halt. But that's no reason to ignore the same kinds of bad decisions that led to the coal ash crisis in the first place.

Policymaking via the budget

Chris Fitzsimon lowers the boom:

Nobody debated the little-noticed but important provisions because nobody except a handful of Senate leaders even knew they were there. And it’s a safe bet that there are plenty more of them that have yet to be discovered in the massive budget document that is supposed to be legislation detailing how state taxpayer money is spent, not a bill that changes numerous state laws and makes significant policy changes.

The problem isn’t the merits of each idea, though most of them are clearly not in the state’s best interests, but that any significant policy change deserves a full debate and an up or down vote that is impossible when they are part of a larger budget document that legislators in the majority are pressured by their leaders to support.

I'm going to leave an open invitation here for any Republican lawmaker to explain "why" this should be considered acceptable. Buy I'm also not going to hold my breath, either. GOP leadership has demonstrated that debate is an unnecessary impediment, but what that really means is they have no respect for other opinions, even within their own party.

"Judge" Junior Berger already in ethical quagmire

Failed charter school leader to preside over charter school case:

PACE Academy will fight for its future Tuesday, July 7 when the public charter school goes before an administrative law judge to contest a state panel’s recommendation that it be closed permanently.

Attorney Philip Adkins, who represents the school, said the case will be heard in Raleigh by Administrative Law Judge Phil Berger Jr., who is with the state Office of Administrative Hearings and is the son of State Senate leader Phil Berger Sr. “We think we might and hope to get a favorable decision,” said Adkins, noting that three days have been set aside for the hearing.

We've been accused from time to time of being too harsh in criticizing news outlets for their coverage, and sometimes we do go a little overboard. But there's not one word in this article about Phil Berger Jr. helping to create a charter school, only to watch it fail before it could get off the ground:

NC's non-compliance with NVRA is no accident

It's part of a pattern of voter suppression to keep the GOP in office:

Congress requires biennial reports on the Act’s implementation from the US Election Assistance Commission (EAC). The latest report, released this week, contains evidence of poor compliance with the law, especially with those provisions designed to register citizens with lower incomes.

In the same report issued four years earlier, North Carolina and Virginia reported 72,128 and 32,368 registration applications. In the new report, these states’ agency registration applications dropped to 33,332 and 14,497.

That 54% reduction in registrations does not represent "business as usual," it reflects a systemic change in operational procedures. Somebody (or bodies) brought this change about, and the only way to determine how that happened is to look at e-mails and (paper) memoranda. Breaking the law by mistake is one thing, but purposely undermining it is quite another.

The "polluter protection bill" needs to be dropped in the dustbin

And then both should be incinerated and the ashes buried in a lined pit:

The bill would, among other things, reduce the number of air-quality monitors in the state, relax the protection of intermittent streams from development and eliminate the financing for recycling of old computers and TVs. It would still be illegal for these items to be tossed into landfills. But without state financing, and with financing for such programs from municipalities uncertain, some people might toss their electronic equipment into landfills, where its hazardous chemicals could leak into our groundwater and well water.

There’s a provision that would make it easier for the state to recover legal fees from people who unsuccessfully challenge environmental impact in two broad categories. “It would make anyone considering an environmental lawsuit, in many instances, far less likely to do so, because it could make them responsible for the state’s legal costs,” Molly Diggins, the director of the Sierra Club’s North Carolina chapter, told our editorial board Thursday.

And surprise, surprise, Trudy Wade's devious fingerprints are all over this toxic mess of a bill.

Allowing Greensboro's voters a referendum a "dealbreaker" for GOP

The blatant abuse of power is breathtaking:

The revised bill emerged in the House on Wednesday afternoon in the form of a conference report. It was written by a joint House-Senate committee that wasn’t fully formed until Tuesday afternoon.

Hardister said Wednesday that he sent word to the conference committee that he wanted the bill to include a referendum. “The referendum was a deal-breaker for a majority of the conference committee. I floated it.” The result, he said, was a compromise. “You don’t get everything you want in the legislative process.”

Pretty sure the voters in Greensboro would say "You don't get anything you want in the Legislative process." The most dumbfounding aspect of this story: Republicans feel justified in taking these abusive steps exactly because Greensboro residents would never approve them. How is that for absurdity? "This is the only way we can make this happen, so it is by default a 'legitimate' action." And you're right, it's straight out of George Orwell.

NC's "chronic" failure to feed the hungry

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This is not what we mean when we say "slow food":

In a letter to the state's health agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said North Carolina social services workers failed to approve applications within the required 30-day window, or one week for emergency applications. In 2013, the state processed those applications an average of 75 percent of the time, ranking fifth from the bottom when compared to the rest of the country.

That means North Carolina lags behind neighbors Tennessee, Georgia and South Carolina and even territories such as the Virgin Islands and Guam.

Coal Ash Wednesday: Swimming in industry propaganda

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Duke Energy hires a professional liar to represent their interests:

Rudo and Duke’s expert, Lisa Bradley, a nationally known expert in coal ash toxicology, also clashed over the chemical element vanadium. They split over whether the state had issued “do not drink” recommendations to dozens of well owners based on vanadium findings less than those people routinely encounter safely in everyday life.

“So you’re getting more in your daily vitamin than you would drinking water at that screening level,” Bradley said of the state’s trigger level for issuing “do not drink” warnings for vanadium found in wells.

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