Republican attack on the environment

Coal Ash Wednesday: Judge refuses to dismiss lawsuit against Duke Energy

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When you have yet to clean up your mess, but still want to go outside and play:

A Duke Energy lawyer told a trio of judges on the state Court of Appeals the lawsuit filed by the state's environmental protection agency and joined by conservation groups should be dismissed. Coal ash, the residue left after decades of burning coal to generate power, can contain toxic materials like arsenic and mercury.

The company was in court in part because Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway has refused to dismiss the lawsuit. Ridgeway has indicated he would review the remediation plan the state Department of Environmental Quality approves, then decide independently whether the agency is requiring enough from Duke Energy to clean up the pollution, Long said.

It's no coincidence this legal gambit is taking place 13 days before Duke Energy's first substantial hearing on their massive rate hike request before the NC Utilities Commission. That case contains many "findings of fact" on Duke Energy's negligence in coal ash management, and if they can make that go away, it will strengthen their argument for a rate increase while severely weakening the opposition to it. And just to give a voice to those who will be adversely affected by this unreasonable action:

Coal Ash Wednesday: Fact-checking Trump's "Clean Coal" nonsense

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Proving my decision to not watch this trainwreck was a wise one:

TRUMP: "We have ended the war on beautiful clean coal."

THE FACTS: Coal is not clean. According to the Energy Department, more than 83 percent of all major air pollutants — sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, toxic mercury and dangerous soot particles — from power plants are from coal, even though coal makes up only 43 percent of the power generation. Power plants are the No. 1 source of those pollutants. Coal produces nearly twice as much heat-trapping carbon dioxide per energy created as natural gas, the department says. In 2011, coal burning emitted more than 6 million tons of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides versus 430,000 tons from other energy sources combined.

I don't expect an answer to the following question, because logic dictates there can't be one, but: WTF does "beautiful" have to do with coal? I consider myself an artist of sorts, and I've done numerous charcoal sketches. But I've never finished a drawing, looked at my darkened fingertips and said, "Beautiful." It's just not a word that anybody would automatically associate with coal, is what I'm saying. Until now.

In rural NC, economics often clashes with environmentalism

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But what benefits one county may poison another:

Heavily agricultural and rural Bladen County southeast of Fayetteville, has two cornerstone businesses on its tax rolls. There’s Smithfield, the world’s largest pork processing plant, and The Chemours Company’s Fayetteville Works site. “The Fayetteville Works site generates just over a million dollars of revenue for Bladen County a year,” said Chuck Heustess, executive director of Bladen County’s Economic Development Commission.

Heustess said Chemours brings more than just decent paying jobs to Bladen and neighboring counties. He said the company pays for services -- everything from landscaping to catering.

Which is common practice for polluting industries, funneling a fraction of their profits into buying loyalty from local governments. Or I should say, placing them in a position where they can't afford to lose said polluting industry. The perspective from New Hanover County, however, is exactly the opposite:

Trump to levy 30% tariff on imported Solar panels

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Because when something is working very well, it's time to break it:

Suniva spokesman Mark Paustenbach called tariffs "a step forward for this high-tech solar-manufacturing industry we pioneered right here in America." However, solar installers and manufacturers of other equipment used to run solar-power systems opposed tariffs, which they said will raise their prices and hurt demand for the renewable energy.

The Solar Energy Industries Association, which represents installation companies, said billions of dollars of solar investment will be delayed or canceled, leading to the loss of 23,000 jobs this year. Mark Bortman, founder of Exact Solar in Philadelphia, said the prospect of tariffs, since the trade commission recommended them in October, had already caused him to delay hiring and expansion plans. "Solar is really just starting to take off because it is truly a win-win-win situation" for consumers, workers and the environment, he said. "Tariffs would really be shooting ourselves in the foot."

Environmentalists should not be "torn" on his issue. Make no mistake, it's a bad idea, and very likely will please fossil fuel companies and their advocates. And considering some of the comments I've seen by those who should know better, I guess it's time for another lecture on this complicated issue:

Polluters and environmentalists in NC form questionable joint lobbying group

Purportedly to better conserve natural resources:

NC Forever appears to invite the lambs to lie down with the lions: Environmental Defense Fund, NC Coastal Federation and Audubon Society of North Carolina, plus several parks nonprofits, are joining groups with dubious environmental histories: global pork producer Smithfield Foods, agribusiness advocates the NC Farm Bureau, mining and quarrying company Martin Marietta, and the NC Forestry Association, which represents primarily the interests of the timber industry.

Nonetheless, the nonprofit plans to lobby state lawmakers to appropriate much-needed money to conservation programs, such as the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, which have sustained major cuts over the past seven years. From 2000 to 2017, state appropriations to the trust fund have declined by more than half, from $40 million to $18 million.

Go and read the whole article. Lisa Sorg has once again delved deeply into an issue, answering most of the questions I had yet to formulate. But that still leaves me with these important questions: What good (net benefit) will we achieve in increasing state funding (taxpayer monies) to the Clean Water Management Trust Fund to *attempt* to mitigate water pollution, while we allow massive CAFOs like Smithfield to continually pollute our water? What net benefit will we achieve by purchasing 1,000 acres of woodlands for conservation, while tens of thousands of acres are clear-cut by the wood pellet industry to fuel Europe's wood-burning boondoggle that's supposed to be "renewable" energy? It appears this group is the brainchild of Smithfield Foods, patterned after their Virginia version:

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