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DEQ unveils new Environmental Justice & Equity Board

Something that's been a long time coming:

Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Michael Regan announced the membership of the Environmental Justice and Equity Advisory Board today. Its 16 members, inclusive of diverse racial, ethnic, gender and socio-economic backgrounds, plans to meet quarterly. Its charge is to advise Regan and DEQ on how to ensure all North Carolinians can enjoy clean air, water and land in their neighborhoods.

Since appointed by Gov. Cooper, Regan said his priority “has always been same — to redefine the agency’s purpose. It’s no secret that I wasn’t satisfied with the mission we inherited. It downplayed the protection of people and no, it did not reflect my vision and the governor’s vision of inclusivity.”

He said a mouthful with that last sentence. DENR did not (in my opinion) pay enough attention to "where" potentially polluting industries were sited, when it comes to the socioeconomic class of people affected, anyway. That was before the scourge of McCrory, where the dynamic duo of John Skvarla and Donald van der Vaart played the Citizens United card by elevating industry to the same level (or above) regular citizens by labeling them as "customers" and not potential bad actors that needed close watching. As to environmental justice, I'ma just quote myself to save some time:

Thursday News: Career day

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DURHAM SCHOOLS WILL CLOSE MAY 16 FOR TEACHER RALLY: Officials have voted to close schools in a North Carolina district as more than 1,000 teachers are expected to take a day off to lobby for better pay. Local media outlets report the Durham Board of Education voted 6-1 Wednesday to close schools on May 16. Teachers are expected to call out of work that day and head to Raleigh to urge lawmakers to raise pay and increase resources for students. More than 1,000 Durham teachers are planning to attend the March for Students and Rally for Respect. The event starts with a march in downtown Raleigh to the legislative building as the lawmakers go back into session. Teachers also plan to meet with House and Senate members to push for school safety improvements and repairs to crumbling buildings.
https://www.wral.com/nc-district-closes-schools-as-teachers-lobby-for-pay-raise/17527133/

Coal Ash Wednesday: Virginia defies Scott Pruitt's rollback of CCR rules

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Providing Roy Cooper a blueprint to do the same:

Virginia's governor says the state has no plans to change its coal ash management practices, despite an Environmental Protection Agency plan to roll back regulations governing the byproduct generated by coal-burning power plants. Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam said in a statement Tuesday that the Department of Environmental Quality will maintain its program for regulating coal ash.

The announcement from Northam comes after the EPA announced in March that it was rewriting the rules. It said at the time that the change would save utilities $100 million annually in compliance costs and give states more flexibility in enforcement. Critics said the changes would weaken protections for human health and the environment. The state also filed written comments with EPA, urging the agency not to weaken the rule.

Just a little background: It took several years from the point the EPA announced it was (finally) going to develop rules for storage and disposal of coal ash, and the actual rules being enacted. Reams of research, thousands of hours of testimony and feedback from the public and utilities went into this before it was promulgated. And the end result was (of course) weaker than many of us had hoped. But not weak enough for Scott Pruitt, apparently. He would have done this regardless, but this petition by a couple of utility groups set the formal process in motion:

Wednesday News: Time to pay the piper

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NCDP SUES TILLIS AND NC GOP OVER CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA SCHEME: The North Carolina Democratic Party contends that Sen. Thom Tillis and the North Carolina Republican Party's actions during the 2014 campaign violated federal law and elections regulations, according to a complaint by the Democrats. Democrats planned to file the complaint with the Federal Election Commission on Wednesday morning. The complaint alleges that Tillis and the state Republicans "knowingly assisted Cambridge Analytica's foreign national employees in influencing" Tillis' 2014 campaign against incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan. Further, the complaint says Tillis and the Republicans "accepted illegal and in-kind contributions" from John Bolton's super PAC through the use of Cambridge Analytica. The Tillis campaign, the NC GOP and the Bolton political action committee all hired Cambridge Analytica during the 2014 campaign.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article210132809.html

Tuesday News: The War of Southern regression

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ORANGE COUNTY HOLDS PUBLIC DISCUSSION ABOUT CONFEDERATE FLAG ISSUE: The Human Relations Commission-hosted Community Conversation was held just two days after a long-anticipated, 20X20-foot Confederate battle flag was hoisted onto a 60-foot flagpole. However, it had been in the works for over a month after residents raised concerns about the planned flag and asked the county to come up with some rules. The conversation was sparked earlier this year when property owner Robert "Doug" Hall Jr. secured a permit for a 60-foot flagpole on his land near the Division of Motor Vehicles office on U.S. 70. Hall also reached out to the group Alamance County Taking Back Alamance County (ACTBAC) about helping him install a mega-size flag.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/counties/orange-county/article210175999.html

Tuesday Twitter roundup

Right Congressional action, wrong target:

That's right, Mark Meadows just might be a traitor himself. Trying to impeach the Deputy Attorney General because he refuses to do what the Attorney General *can't* do, fire the Special Counsel investigating Russian efforts to subvert the American electoral process. Good lord.

Justin Burr's mysterious crusade against sitting judges

Hat-tip to NC Policy Watch for exploring this nonsense:

More than 100 judges with thousands of years of combined experience could be wiped from the North Carolina bench by a bail bond agent who has served less than a decade in the General Assembly, and no one really knows why. Many judges learned of their potential unemployment on Twitter last summer when Rep. Justin Burr (a private bail bond agent by profession) unveiled his surprise judicial redistricting plan. They’ve been trying to figure out what’s going on ever since.

“It’s stressful because it’s created this cloud of anxiety since June about what are they going to do next. Do I have to move? What do I have to do?” said District Court Judge Robin Wicks Robinson, who serves New Hanover and Pender counties. “There is a powerlessness feeling and feeling of anxiety that overwhelms.”

Understand, double-bunking at such a high rate does not happen by accident, it requires a design. An intentional effort to create a new batch of judges in a system that is already crushed under poor funding and a growing caseload. And it should come as no surprise that the people who will suffer the most under this plan are on the low end of the economic spectrum:

Monday News: Resistance has a leader

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JOSH STEIN STANDS UP AGAINST THE WORST OF TRUMP'S AGENDA: During his first 16 months in office, Stein has been on the front lines with a troop of Democratic attorneys general firing off a slew of lawsuits, targeted complaints and other actions against the Trump administration. “To me, it’s not about fighting the Trump administration, it’s about standing up for the people of North Carolina,” Stein said recently. Stein has joined the group to oppose offshore drilling, education policies, a travel ban and the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. At the beginning of the month Stein fought the administration’s plans to try to block a question about citizenship from the 2020 Census questionnaire. Not even a whole week later, he joined other states with Democratic attorneys general in a pushback against a Texas lawsuit attempting to further dismantle the Affordable Care Act, former President Barack Obama's signature health legislation.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article209284739.html

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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DUKE ENERGY, NOT RATEPAYERS, SHOULD PAY FOR COAL ASH MISMANAGEMENT: Is it fair that North Carolina consumers, who already paid for electric power produced at Duke Energy’s coal-burning power plants as long as 70 years ago, get another bill to pay for the company’s management failures that led to spills and contamination from coal ash storage facilities? Imagine the outrage if years after consumers filled up their cars with gasoline they got a bill demanding more money for that same gasoline because there was an accident at a refinery. That’s just what Duke Energy’s managed to achieve, with the help of North Carolina’s utilities Commission. A couple of months ago the Commission approved a rate increase on consumers in the eastern half of the state. While it was less than Duke initially asked for, it included about $230 million to pay for coal ash removal while at the same time imposing a $30 million penalty for failure in coal ash management.
https://www.wral.com/editorial-duke-energy-not-ratepayers-should-pay-for-coal-ash-mismanagement/1751...

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