NCGA

Coal Ash Wednesday: The legal battle over cleanup costs begins

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Duke Energy is hoping to fleece ratepayers, but the AG's office is watching:

The coal ash costs that Duke Energy seeks to recover are out-of-the-ordinary and very concerning because they may result in large rate increases for consumers. There are important questions that need to be addressed regarding whether all of the costs that Duke Energy seeks to recover were reasonably and prudentially incurred. It would not be appropriate to make important, binding, substantive determinations regarding recovery of these costs in a procedural, accounting-related docket. The Commission should ensure that all of the issues regarding coal ash cost recovery will not be resolved or prejudged until there is a complete evidentiary record in the upcoming rate cases.

Just to bring you up to speed: After the dam failure that allowed a massive amount of toxic coal ash into the Dan River, Duke Energy's other coal ash impoundments have fallen under close scrutiny, and a number of them have been designated for removal and relocation of the ash to a safer storage place. Duke Energy has estimated these various projects could end up costing as much as ten billion, although many experts say that is wildly inflated. The bottom line is, Duke wants to recoup as much of that cost as it can from customers, shielding its stockholders from shouldering the burden. The Attorney General feels otherwise:

Tuesday Twitter roundup

When you have "tens" of supporters show up:

I recognize at least two of these guys from activities they took part in around the Triad/Triangle area, so I'd be surprised if any of these folks actually live in Meadows' District.

GOP leaders floating "religious freedom to discriminate" legislation

Alternate title: "Let the zealots take care of teh gay problem":

N.C. House Democratic Leader Darren Jackson says Republicans want to include “religious freedom” language – similar to a controversial Indiana law – in legislation repealing House Bill 2. Jackson posted several images of the proposed legislation on Twitter Wednesday. “Since the speaker wouldn’t share with his caucus, I figured I would share the bill they are discussing,” Jackson wrote.

The proposed legislation Jackson posted is labeled “Religious Liberty,” and says that anyone whose “Constitutional exercise of religious liberty and rights of conscience has been burdened ... by an action of the state” can sue the state or any state or local government agency involved.

"Rights of conscience has been burdened"? And they call us snowflakes? And for those reading this who don't think such lawsuits would ever materialize, that nobody would sue a municipality for passing a non-discrimination ordinance or other protections for LGBT folks, think again. And remember the conspiracy that had Republicans in half of NC's counties filing unsubstantiated complaints of voter fraud in an effort to de-legitimize the Gubernatorial Election. These idiots are just waiting for an opportunity like this, and such challenges would allow Republican leaders to dodge any consequences for their stances.

Vinroot uses faulty data when promoting diversity of charter schools

Masking the reality of state-sponsored segregation:

“I am very much concerned,” says state Rep. Rosa Gill, a Wake County Democrat and former high school math teacher who sits on the N.C. House of Representatives’ education committee. “I think when our legislators have false information, we come up with legislation that is not in the best interest of kids.”

To make his points, Vinroot relies on free or reduced lunch data in charters. By most estimations, that’s not a fair assessment, experts say, pointing out less than a third of the state’s charters participate in that program.

But I'm sure the public school haters in the General Assembly will eat it up with gusto.

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.

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:

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