Republican attack on the environment

Renewable energy surpasses coal-burning in nation's power generation

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The clean energy revolution is more than just a slogan:

The United States is on track to produce more electricity this year from renewable power than from coal for the first time on record, new government projections show, a transformation partly driven by the coronavirus pandemic, with profound implications in the fight against climate change.

It is a milestone that seemed all but unthinkable a decade ago, when coal was so dominant that it provided nearly half the nation’s electricity. And it comes despite the Trump administration’s three-year push to try to revive the ailing industry by weakening pollution rules on coal-burning power plants.

Please understand: It wasn't those air pollution rules that brought renewable energy to the level it is right now; it was the wise decision to harness the market and entice investors into the mix. Policies like NC's Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards created the demand that drove production and innovation, two key areas that had been dormant for wind and solar for so long. And once that process began, the costs associated with renewable energy would (naturally) drop, keeping the momentum going:

Coal Ash Wednesday: Think of the children

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Because exposure to coal ash can be devastating to them:

Experimental research has demonstrated that fine and ultrafine particulate matter can pass directly through the nasal olfactory pathway into the circulatory system to the brain.18,19 In addition, research has shown when air pollution is cleared from the lungs it can enter the gut and exit the body via the gastrointestinal tract.20

Chronic exposure to air pollution and particulate matter has been found to cause chronic inflammation and elevated levels of cytokines throughout the body and brain.18,19 In addition, some of the metals in fly ash are neurotoxins,21-24 and exposure to neurotoxic heavy metals during rapid growth in the early stages of life can disrupt developmental processes and result in neurological dysfunction.17,24

Normally I would remove those reference numbers to make the reading easier, but it's good to occasionally give a nod to legitimate research. There's so much industry-funded nonsense out there (a lot of) people can't tell the difference anymore. Prior to the Clean Smokestacks Act of 2002, a heinous amount of the fly ash produced by coal combustion was escaping into the air, literally blanketing the state. But even with the new scrubbers in place these days, particulate matter from coal burning is still polluting our skies. And children are especially vulnerable:

Refurbished textile mill will become another NC wood pellet plant

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Spelling the demise of thousands more acres of trees:

This factory used to house Alamac American Knits, an erstwhile leading manufacturer of woven fabrics. But it closed in 2017, in part due to market pressures, but also because of damage inflicted by Hurricane Matthew, which the previous year dumped 10 inches of rain on the town, flooding the Lumber River until it burst its banks.

Now the 150-acre site is the home of Active Energy Renewable Power. A subsidiary of Active Energy Group, it is a publicly traded British company with a spotty project history. Aided by a half-million dollars in state taxpayer money, it is the latest entrant into the state’s wood pellet business.

It's long past time for us to stop referring to wood pellet burning as "renewable energy." It's not. Some of the wood they use comes from old-growth hardwoods, very often located in or near our critical wetlands, and many of those trees are over 100 years old. It's not as asinine as John Skvarla's (thanks, McCrory) claim that crude oil is renewable, but it ranks up there. This also has COVID 19 implications as well, since scientists have determined that fine particulate air pollution increases risk for fatalities in people who live in dirty air environments. Their own permit application is damning enough:

PFAS from old carpets in landfills is contaminating groundwater

And the numbers are startling:

Johnsie Lang, formerly with the EPA’s Office of Research and Development in Research Triangle Park, is one of four scientists who worked on the study. Now a consultant at an environmental engineering firm, Lang had previously studied these toxic compounds in carpet. “Carpet is known to be disposed in C&D landfills, so I assumed it was possible that PFAS leaching could be occurring,” she said.

Her hunch was right. The average PFAS level in the Florida C&D landfill leachate was 15,530 parts per trillion. To show the magnitude of that concentration, North Carolina has suggested a groundwater limit of just 70 ppt for two main types of the compound. Other states have even stronger groundwater standards.

You should probably sit down, 'cause I'm about to freak you out a little bit. When something like this comes up, we most often view it through the lens of our own family & friends: "We have mostly hardwood floors with an occasional rug placed here or there." North Carolina has over a half-million apartments right now, and will likely increase that number by 40%-50% by 2030. It is standard procedure (except in the most distressed areas) to pull up the old carpet and install new every few years, and in fact many (most?) new tenants expect it, along with a fresh coat of paint. Say 100,000 NC apartments get new carpet every year, totaling some 7.5 million square feet of discarded carpet. Yeah, it's a problem.

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