NCGA

Coal Ash Wednesday: I'll see your fine and raise you a rate

Disciplinary action or election-year posturing?

The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources issued a notice of violation to Duke over the ongoing contamination at the L.V. Sutton Electric Plant in New Hanover County. The site includes a pair of unlined dumps estimated to hold 2.6 million tons of ash.

The state says monitoring wells near Duke's dumps at Sutton showed readings exceeding state groundwater standards for boron, thallium, selenium, iron, manganese and other chemicals. Thallium was used for decades as the active ingredient in rat poison until it was banned because it is so highly toxic.

Make no mistake, Duke Energy should be fined for allowing toxic chemicals to leak from their coal ash impoundments. But considering they will soon be pursuing (and likely be granted) rate increases from the NCUC, whatever fines they do pay for this will be easily recouped from the people. And efforts by DENR to conceal or edit test results calls the timing of this action into question:

One voice

What is it about my vote that the NCGA doesn’t like? Most of you already know me at least by my activity on BlueNC. My name is Brian. I am a new transfer student at UNC-Pembroke. I am majoring in Political Science and the first few days of classes have started to open up my mind and make me think about that one question, what is it about my vote that the NCGA doesn’t like? That is a rhetorical question. I know what it is. I do not vote the way the “majority” wants me to vote, I am a member of a demographic that historically doesn’t vote the way the “majority” wants me to.

Tuesday Twitter roundup

The harsh reality of the GOP's failure to properly fund public education:

And no math formula can make it right:

Public forum on fracking in Rockingham County this evening

And the voices of dissent are growing:

The N.C. Mining and Energy Commission is seeking input from the public on proposed rules for oil and gas development. The meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Aug. 25 at Rockingham County High School in Wentworth.

Also on Monday, opponents to fracking are organizing a Frack Free NC rally at 4:15 p.m. in front of Rockingham County High School.

So far, opponents have outnumbered pro-frackers by a sizeable margin, but that hasn't stopped media from giving them equal time. Which is exactly what FreedomWorks is counting on.

Esquire Magazine takes NC to task over private school vouchers

And it's fitting there's a Banana Republic banner ad running across the top of the story:

The legislature in the newly insane state of North Carolina had the brilliant idea of shoveling public money into private schools. Perhaps in an attempt to keep James Madison from spinning at 300 rpm, a state superior court judge named Thomas Hobgood went upside the legislature's melon in a big way.

You will be shocked, I know, that the fine hand of ALEC was behind this turkey, and that Thom Tillis, the current Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate who has moved into a small lead over Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan, thinks the program was just a swell idea. And you will also be shocked, I know, to learn that the judge concluded that education "reform" legislation was essentially based on a scam. The grift goes on. I'm sure, somehow, this is the fault of the teachers' unions.

Okay, it's "Robert" Hobgood, and North Carolina doesn't have a teacher's union, it's an association. But other than those things, I second your "insane turkey" observations.

Nothing to brag about

On business ethics and other oxymorons

From an LTE in the Char-O:

Separation of government and business is important to prevent abuse of influence and power by the parties to these alliances. Without protections, we are at risk of our nation’s local, state, and federal governments of being controlled by the increasing influence of government-business relationships. Those relationships subject citizens to ever-increasing and unnecessary government excesses.

The author (a doctor) makes some pretty good points, but he appears to be placing the blame more on the advent of income taxes than on the politicians and businessmen who engage in this "abuse of influence and power." He also (like many other critics of incentives) ignores the private-sector elephant in NC's living room, the creation of the Economic Development Partnership, a group of influential businessmen that will be playing around with taxpayer dollars. Which is leaps and bounds more screwed up than traditional government incentive approaches, and opens up several huge Pandora's Boxes of ethical concerns. But instead of talking about a real-world ethical monster, we get this ideological jibber-jabber:

Coal Ash Wednesday: "cap and leak" plan moves forward

Stick a Band-Aid on it and do a victory dance:

The legislation mandates that ash be excavated at only four of Duke’s 14 North Carolina coal-fired power plants. “Low-risk” ponds can be capped in place without removing ash. A moratorium on Duke seeking rate hikes to pay for coal ash cleanup would expire in January 2015, as the Senate bill had stated. The House had pushed for the moratorium to end in December 2016.

Contaminated groundwater has been found near ash ponds at all of Duke’s coal plants. The Southern Environmental Law Center said the committee changes seek “to weaken existing law and protect Duke Energy from taking responsibility for its coal ash waste.”

“Allowing coal ash to be left in unlined, leaking pits across North Carolina with documented groundwater contamination at each site is not a cleanup plan nor does it protect the people of North Carolina,” the center said.

This isn't a compromise bill, it's the bastard child of a horrible plan and an already compromised plan. And the only reason it's moving forward is political in nature, so Republicans won't get punished in November for doing nothing.

Bullshit

McCrory and the NCGOP now proudly claim:

How about this one? The North Carolina General Assembly now contains the biggest bunch of liars in the history of the Old North State.

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