Coal Ash Wednesday: Duke Energy agrees to pay fines for leaky basins


But their solution for stopping the leaks may be worse than the leaks themselves:

The country's largest electricity company will pay an $84,000 penalty and work to stop potentially toxic waste from three North Carolina coal-burning power plants from leaking into groundwater and nearby rivers under a deal with state regulators announced Tuesday.

The deal, already signed by a Duke Energy Corp. executive, includes the penalty for nearly two dozen leaky spots detected at coal ash pits at the Rogers, Allen and Marshall power plants before 2015. The agreement acknowledges the leaks from unlined, earthen holding basins at the power plants into the adjoining Catawba and Broad rivers, a violation of pollution laws.

Here's the proposed consent order itself, which is in a pdf format that does not allow copy-and-paste so you'll have to go and read the thing. While this does represent some progress, there are also some trade-offs in there with which I am not happy. The first (and least of my concerns) is that after this agreement is signed and agreed to, those toxic leaks will fall under the category of "permitted" discharges. Meaning, if their future fixes don't work like they think they will, it will be a lot harder to punish Duke Energy for the continued contamination. But it's really the fix itself that has me worried:

Wednesday News: Auto-erotic asphyxiation?


NC LOSES OUT ON ANOTHER AUTOMOBILE MANUFACTURING PLANT AS TOYOTA CHOOSES ALABAMA: North Carolina appears to have lost out on its latest bid for a vehicle manufacturing plant, with numerous media outlets reporting that Toyota and Mazda plan to build a $1.6 billion plant in Alabama. "News of our economic success seems to be a daily occurrence," she said. "Your dedication, your commitment to hard work and our skilled workforce, companies choose Alabama because of your ability to work hard and be dependable." North Carolina has tried for years to land an auto plant, creating four "mega-sites" ready to accommodate a large manufacturing operation and expanding state incentive funds to provide more money to lure "transformative projects." But all of the state's efforts have been in vain, with companies from Volvo to Mercedes to Hyundai picking other sites in the Southeast. The companies were reportedly seeking $1 billion in incentives from state and local governments to land the plant.

Breaking: Court rules NC Congressional maps be redrawn by the end of January

Cannabis won't be on the ballot, but it may define the 2018 elections

National polling shows growing support for marijuana legalization, with 64 percent of Americans now in favor of it. Support has increased by 14 points since 2011, and even 51 percent of Republicans say medical marijuana should be made legal.

Tuesday News: We've been hacked

OVER HALF OF NC'S POPULATION HAD PERSONAL DATA STOLEN IN VARIOUS DATABASE BREACHES: “This number is staggering and unacceptable,” Stein said. Mecklenburg County was the victim of a ransomware attack last month. Hackers demanded $23,000 in bitcoin to release the county's data, but county officials had backups of the information and did not pay. Duke Energy also recently announced a potential breach of more than 300,000 customers' billing information. Uber recently acknowledged a massive data breach, but it took the company more than a year to let its customers know. “That is certainly not a reasonable time frame to let someone know that their information has been breached,” Saine said. “We've looked at practices all across the United States and what different states are doing, and we'll certainly combine that into the bill.” Stein said scams and cyber attacks spiked in 2017. The most commonly stolen information includes full names, dates of birth and Social Security, driver license, and credit card numbers.

Tuesday Twitter roundup

Schools are crunching their budget numbers right now because of this poorly thought-out move:

Just a heads-up, at 4 p.m. today, use the hashtag #ClassSizeChaos and make your opinion known on Twitter.

Treasurer Dale Folwell giddy over ALEC endorsement


Birds of a feather screw over state employees together:

A recent American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) report named North Carolina’s retirement plans among the top four state-administered public pension plans for the year in terms of transparency. ALEC recognized the state, along with Kentucky, Nebraska and Montana, for transparency in the administration and reporting on the ongoing status of the North Carolina Total Retirement Plans. The report, Unaffordable and Unaccountable 2017, highlights the importance of transparency in public pension plans, noting that transparency in financial reporting enables the public to access the information needed to make informed decisions.

Of the report State Treasurer Dale Folwell said, “I’m proud of the work our team is doing to ensure the health and integrity of the funds we’re responsible for managing. Part of that good work is being open and transparent about what we’re doing to keep the pension promise made by our state to the public servants in North Carolina.”

Bolding mine, because that's all you really need to know about ALEC's motivations when it comes to public pensions. Their overriding goal in this area is to make a massive shift in the way state employee retirement plans are funded, and that shift (of course) means forcing those employees to pay for their own pensions like private-sector workers do in most cases:

Monday News: Fire and Fury


TRUMP AND HIS SUPPORTERS ENRAGED OVER NEW TELL-ALL BOOK: Michael Wolff's "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House" portrays the 45th president as a leader who doesn't understand the weight of his office and whose competence is questioned by aides. That picture, said Miller, "is so contrary to reality, to the experience of those who work with him." Miller also criticized Trump's former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, who is quoted at length by Wolff, saying it was "tragic and unfortunate" that Bannon "would make these grotesque comments so out of touch with reality and obviously so vindictive." Bannon's description of a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower in New York between Donald Trump Jr., Trump campaign aides and a Russian lawyer as "treasonous" and "unpatriotic" particularly infuriated Trump, who released a seething statement accusing Bannon of having "lost his mind."


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