The State of Things
12:10 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

The Plan For Offshore Drilling In North Carolina

An oil rig off the California Coast.
Credit Marianne Muegenburg Cothern

  The U.S. Department of the Interior released a proposal this week that paves the way for energy companies to search for oil in the Atlantic, including off the North Carolina coast. 

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1:40 pm
Tue January 27, 2015

North Carolina One Step Closer To Oil Exploration Off Coast

An oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico.
Credit Wikipedia

The Obama Administration today released a proposal to possibly open the Atlantic Seaboard – including the coast of North Carolina - to oil exploration.

The proposal is part of the U.S. Department of the Interior’s five-year plan.

Testing from the 1980s estimated that as many as 3.3 billion barrels of oil could be off the Atlantic coast.

That estimate could be low.

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5:35 am
Tue January 27, 2015

Coal Ash, Climate Change, And The Zoo: Challenges Await New DENR Secretary

Donald van der Vaart, the new Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Credit DENR

From the state zoo to coal ash, from aquariums to climate change, the DENR secretary has plenty to worry about.

“I consider being the Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources the second-toughest job in state government,” says Bill Holman, who served as Secretary of DENR in the early 2000s, under Governor Jim Hunt.

For the record, he says leading the Department of Health and Human Services is the toughest job, but DENR Secretary is a close second.

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12:17 pm
Thu January 22, 2015

Duke Energy Building Solar Farm At Camp Lejeune

O sunny days, the solar farm at Camp Lejeune will produce enough electricity to power 3,000 homes.
Credit Duke Energy/Progress Energy

Duke Energy has announced yet another solar farm to be built in North Carolina. But this one is unique: it’s the first solar farm the utility company has ever built on a military base.

The Camp Lejeune solar farm will be a 13-megawatt facility that could power as many as 3,000 homes. That is relatively small, when compared to the 65-megawatt Duke Energy facility under construction in Duplin County.

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7:36 am
Wed January 21, 2015

Fisherman Lands Largest Bluefin Ever Off Carolina Coast

Capt. Herb Sheades (left) and Mate Jonathan Anderson (middle) get a full view at their catch when their 1005 lb tuna was lifted out of the water at Homer Smith Seafood, Beaufort, NC on Jan. 13, 2015.
Credit Alex Nitt

Jonathan Anderson and Captain Herb Sheades, landed what is likely the largest bluefin tuna ever caught off the North Carolina coast.  The two commercial fishermen were aboard the Fish Bucket on an early morning run last week.

"Nothing is ever normal, these fish are extremely finicky," says Anderson. "You're lucky if you get one. We've fished for twenty-five days before landing our first keeper. It's not as easy as TV makes it out to be."

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10:29 am
Fri January 16, 2015

Study: Sea Turtles Follow Magnetic Fields To Their Home Beaches To Lay

A new study shows that sea turtles use magnetic fields to find the beaches where they hatched. They often lay their own eggs there.
Credit US Fish and Wildlife Service

Sea turtles follow the earth's magnetic fields to find the beaches where they hatched to lay their own eggs.

UNC-Chapel Hill researcher and report co-author Roger Brothers says they want soft, undisturbed sand at the right temperature, but it's hard to guage that from out in the ocean.

“So the only way the female turtle can actually be sure that she's nesting in a place that's favorable for egg development, is to nest on the same beach where she hatched as a hatchling. The logic being that, “’If it worked for me, it should work for my offspring.’”

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3:41 pm
Wed January 14, 2015

Turning Coal Ash Into Roofing Tile, Makeup: Commission Hears Options

The Coal Ash Management Commission held its second full meeting.
Credit Dave DeWitt

For a century, utility companies in North Carolina simply dumped coal ash in nearby pits and ponds. But within the last several decades, other states have found uses for coal ash in construction and road-building, limiting the amount that makes it into the landfills.

During its second full meeting Wednesday, the Coal Ash Management Commission heard the many ways states like Wisconsin, Ohio, and South Carolina are reusing coal ash.

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Winter Weather
9:16 am
Wed January 14, 2015

Icy Till Lunch: Officials Warn Of Slippery Spots On Roads

Officials warn of black ice on bridges and ramps until lunch time today.
Credit Petelewisr / Wikipedia

Much of central North Carolina was hit with freezing rain overnight.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Scott Sharp says ice will linger throughout the morning.

“Temperatures here across the Triangle today are in the upper 20s, and probably will not rise much above freezing until about lunchtime or so.”

North Carolina Department of Transportation Spokesman Steve Abbott says salt trucks were busy yesterday, and the roads themselves are mostly dry.

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1:18 pm
Tue January 13, 2015

After Surviving Haiti's Earthquake, Durham's Laura Wagner Turned To Fiction

Credit Abrams Books

Having lived in San Francisco, Wagner knew what to do when an earthquake hit. Still, she was shocked when the earth underneath her began shaking. "I was standing in the doorway when the house collapsed," she recalls. "I was very surprised that this was how I was going to die."

Wagner says she was trapped under the rubble for two to three hours. She survived after being rescued by friends and neighbors, but not unscathed. "My left arm was crushed," she says. "I couldn't walk very far very quickly."

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8:34 am
Mon January 12, 2015

North Carolina's Legislative Year Ahead: Environment

A Duke Energy power plant and coal ash ponds outside Asheville.
Credit Zen Sutherland

Coal ash and fracking will dominate the environmental headlines this year. But the story will be different in the Legislature, where as much news will be made by what’s not discussed as by what is.

Some observers believe that the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard that has been such a contentious issue in years past may not come up at all this session. It requires utility companies to generate 12.5 percent of its electricity using renewables by 2021.

The REP Standard first passed in 2007 and sustained a Republican challenge in 2013.

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