Republican attack on the environment

Coal Ash Wednesday: Duke would cap the #2 worst contaminating site in the nation

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Their judgment simply cannot be trusted:

A new environmental report points to a threat to ground water in 39 states, including a local facility as the second worst in the nation. The report confirms the worries people living near Duke Energy's Allen Steam Station have been concerned about for years.

The report claims coal ash dumps in Belmont are leaking cobalt into groundwater, more than 500 times above safe levels, along with other pollutants. Exposure to cobalt can cause thyroid damage.

It can also lead to cardiomyopathy and blood thickening, which are even worse than they sound. Throw Arsenic into that cocktail, and you've got a drink that's definitely not recommended by doctors. But the real moral to this story: This is one of the sites that Duke Energy has decided could be capped in place safely, and is now suing DEQ to block its ruling to excavate it. From the report itself:

Earth Day 2019: Judge blocks Trump effort to mine coal on public lands

This is a big win, folks:

The decision, by Judge Brian Morris of the United States District Court of the District of Montana, does not reinstate President Barack Obama’s 2016 freeze on new coal mining leases on public lands. That policy was part of an effort by the Obama administration to curtail the burning of coal, a major producer of greenhouse gases contributing to climate change.

But the court ruling does say that the 2017 Trump administration policy, enacted by former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, to overturn Mr. Obama’s coal mining ban did not include adequate studies of the environmental effects of the mining, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act of 1970, or NEPA, one of the nation’s bedrock environmental laws. “Federal Defendants’ decision not to initiate the NEPA process proves arbitrary and capricious,” Judge Morris wrote.

Bolding mine, because that is the most succinct definition of Trump's behavior I've seen. We don't know what he's going to do from day to day (arbitrary), but it almost always involves some little pissing contest he was drawn into (capricious). And apparently nothing gets under his skin more that previous policy moves by Obama:

Notes from the Kakistocracy: Oil & gas lobbyist set to run Interior

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And NC's fight against offshore drilling takes a punch in the gut:

The Senate vote set this week on the confirmation of David Bernhardt as Interior Secretary is making waves in North Carolina. Bernhardt took the helm at Interior after the resignation of Ryan Zinke, but faced tough questions about his past as an oil and gas lobbyist before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted 14-6 to send the nomination to the floor for a vote.

Groups in North Carolina have asked the state's U.S. senators to probe the Trump administration's recent support of seismic drilling. They say under Bernhardt's leadership, the agency charged with protecting national resources could permit harm to North Carolina's coastlines.

Republicans in general, and Senate Republicans in particular, no longer even attempt to avoid conflicts of interest in who runs government agencies. Between Wheeler at the EPA and Bernhardt at Interior, the private sector foxes are literally running the Federal Government henhouse from their Boardrooms. And it's also plain (as day) that Bernhardt has no grasp on ethics whatsoever, since he continued lobbying right up to the minute he was ushered into the Interior Department:

Coal Ash Wednesday: Duke hints at massive rate increases over excavation order

This song is getting painfully old:

In its statement, Duke Energy said excavating the final nine pits would add about “$4 billion to $5 billion to the current estimate of $5.6 billion for the Carolinas.” The company warned that excavation at some sites could take decades, stretching well beyond current state and federal deadlines. It also said excavation would cost significantly more than it would to cap the coal ash under a heavy cover and soil.

Holleman said the company “greatly exaggerates” its cost estimates without taking into account the damage it has caused to the environment and to people’s health. He said the company also underestimates the cost it would incur if it simply drained and capped coal ash in the unlined pits.

Had a conversation (that turned into an argument) recently with a man trying to defend Duke Energy's history of coal ash storage. "Science has come a long way since then" was the major thrust of his argument, trying to give the utility an "out" for not using liners in their coal ash pits. Of course that's not true, because solid waste engineers have known since the late 1960's that toxins can leach into the groundwater from unlined landfills. And of course Duke Energy knew this too, but they were more concerned with returning healthy quarterly dividends than being good stewards of the environment. But hopefully they will soon find out that having us pay for their mistakes won't be as easy as it has been:

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