The biomass bait-and-switch: From scraps to whole trees


This was both predictable and preventable:

Several Enviva mills were soon processing material from logging sites and sawmills throughout the region. Environmental groups say they have documented truckloads of logs and whole trees, not just leftovers, entering pellet mills. Publicly available images show logs stacked at mills, and a reporter outside a pellet mill entrance saw trucks of logs entering.

Pellet makers’ pledges to rely on waste wood “painted them into a corner,” said Robert Abt, a forest economist at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, because the wood-products industry already used its supplies relatively efficiently, leaving little waste.

Around 2009 or so I got into a protracted (online) debate with an NC State grad student about burning biomass as a replacement for coal. I could not get him to admit that, eventually, the industry would grow to the point it would need to consume whole trees instead of detritus. Which he stubbornly claimed would be "more than enough" to satisfy demands. But aside from the deforestation issues, the environmental justice impact of these plants is horrendous:

Monday News: Twelve thousand, three hundred eighty seven


NC'S HOSPITALIZATIONS AND POSITIVE TEST RATE INCH UP, DESPITE VACCINATIONS: At least 943,693 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus and 12,387 have died since March 2020, according to state health officials. The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported 2,475 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, up from 2,434 the day before. At least 1,064 people in North Carolina were reported hospitalized with the coronavirus as of Friday, up from 1,020 on Thursday. On Wednesday, the latest day for which data is available, 5.5% of coronavirus tests were reported positive. Edgecombe County was the only red county in the state’s tiered COVID-19 county alert system as of Friday, indicating it has the most severe spread. There were no red counties at the last update two weeks ago, The News & Observer reported.

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


STOP EFFORTS TO MICRO-MANAGE VOTER TURNOUT: Republicans see advantage to limiting participation – whether it is when polling places are open and voting closes, what it takes for voters to identify themselves or the ways voters can cast their ballots. They’ve even admitted it in court – including during arguments recently before the U.S. Supreme Court. Michael Carvin, a lawyer for the Arizona Republican Party, said the state’s voting restrictions were aimed at giving the GOP an advantage over Democrats. “Politics is a zero-sum game,” he said. Doing away with the state’s restrictive law – limiting out-of-precinct voting – “puts us at a competitive disadvantage relative to Democrats,” he confessed. “It’s the difference between winning an election 50-49 and losing an election 51 to 50.” Republicans are pushing legislation that generally sets narrower limits on when those who qualify can register, how and when those voters can cast ballots and get them counted.

Saturday News: Love & Treason?

RANDOLPH COUNTY MAN, TEXAS WOMAN IN CUSTODY FOR CAPITOL BREACH: Bennett was a QAnon devotee from small-town North Carolina, according to court records. She was a musician, lifestyle coach and essential oils guru from San Antonio. In a series of videos and photographs posted real-time from the day, the couple strolled through the Capitol and posed inside the Senate chambers. Williams mugged for the camera both inside the iconic building and outside on its grounds. “TODAY WAS A REVOLUTIONARY MESSAGE,” Bennett roared in an all-caps Facebook mini-manifesto posted that day. “WE WON’T GO AWAY. WE WILL FIND VICTORY.” For now, both must find lawyers. Bennett remained in custody Friday at the Mecklenburg County Jail, where he awaits transfer to the federal courts of Washington, which will prosecute his case. He joins some 420 others facing trial in connection with the Capitol siege. At least 12 are from North Carolina.

Protect the NC Constitution: TABOR is back, and it's really bad

Voting about voting about tax increases:

No law shall be enacted to impose or increase any tax, or to allow the counties, cities, or towns to do so, unless approved by a majority of the qualified voters of the jurisdiction to which the tax or increase pertains.

This isn't just about sales taxes, it's about all taxes. Including property taxes levied by county, city, and town governments. Those property taxes are a major source of funding for school construction, but they also cover police and fire protection, public works, parks & recreation, etc. Every year (or two) municipal governments crunch numbers on their budgets (which the state requires to be balanced, by the way), and those elected officials have to decide what is needed, and whether property taxes have to be increased to cover those needs. They are already constrained by electoral politics, but this Amendment would shift those decisions directly to the voters. And if you believe they would ever vote to increase their own taxes, I've got a bridge to nowhere I'd like to sell you.

Friday News: Sgt. Big Brother


RALEIGH POLICE VIOLATED POLICY WITH FACIAL RECOGNITION SOFTWARE: In the months that followed, emails provided by the Raleigh Police Department show, at least 20 people at the department had access to Clearview, a service that trumpeted its “unlimited” power to identify just about anyone in seconds with a single photo. That number far exceeds the three employees authorized to use the service before the department abruptly banned it in February 2020. “I think facial recognition technology, in the long run, has much more potential to change our lives as we know it, and to completely eradicate practical obscurity,” said Jolynn Dellinger, a senior lecturing fellow at the Duke University School of Law and former special counsel for privacy policy and litigation at the N.C. Department of Justice. If anyone can be identified anywhere — at a political protest, church or Alcoholics Anonymous meeting — Webb said authorities gain the “unprecedented power to spy on us wherever we go.”


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