Environment

Environment
11:01 am
Wed May 15, 2013

Debating Alcoa’s Future On the Yadkin

Credit Nancy Pierce Photo / DO NOT USE

Residents in Stanly County spoke passionately Tuesday night about whether Alcoa should receive a water quality permit from the state. The company, which has been in the area 50 miles Northeast of Charlotte for more than 100 years, owns four hydro-electric dams along the Yadkin River. Alcoa needs a water quality permit from the state before it can seek a 50-year federal license to operate the dams. Local residents are divided on Alcoa. Opponents say the company is not a good steward of the river.

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Environment
10:06 am
Tue May 14, 2013

Aquatic Plant Pest Spreads To Eastern NC

A stem of the hydrilla plant. Biologists say the invasive aquatic weed is spreading to bodies of fresh water on the Coastal Plain.
Credit Reinaldo Aguilar / Flickr Creative Commons

An invasive plant called hydrilla is spreading from the Piedmont toward lakes near the coast. 

Biologists say the aquatic weed first found in Wake County is now on river banks in northeastern North Carolina and in lakes near Wilmington.  Dr. Rob Richardson is a crop science professor at N.C. State University.  He says the plant grows in thick patches, which can cause problems in drinking water supplies.

"Large mats have, at times, clogged turbines," says Richardson.

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Environment
5:00 am
Mon May 13, 2013

Two Public Hearings Scheduled For Alcoa’s Yadkin Dam Operations

Alcoa's Narrows Dam with Badin Lake in the background.
Credit Nancy Pierce Photo / DO NOT USE

Two public hearings are scheduled this week in the ongoing fight over whether Alcoa should be allowed to continue operating dams on the Yadkin River. 

The hydroelectric dams are about 60 miles south of the Triad, and they powered Alcoa’s aluminum plant in Badin for decades. The factory is now closed, but Alcoa is seeking another 50-year federal license to operate the dams and sell the electricity on the open market.

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Environment
9:27 am
Wed May 8, 2013

Wildlife Resources Commission Investigates Dead, Injured Brown Pelicans

Brown pelican
Credit Sergey Yeliseev via Flickr, Creative Commons

State wildlife officials are continuing to investigate the deaths and injuries of brown pelicans along the North Carolina coast.  They say more than 200 of the birds have been found. 

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The State of Things
10:06 am
Tue May 7, 2013

Why Legislators Are Changing State Environmental Policy

The Seal of the State of North Carolina
Credit North Carolina Government / North Carolina

A variety of measures aimed at weakening environmental protections are making their way through the General Assembly. One would limit environmental regulations while another would repeal a six-year-old renewable energy policy. Meanwhile, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources is changing its mission statement to reflect an emphasis on customer service, a move some call anti-science.

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Environment
7:52 am
Wed May 1, 2013

Greensboro Awaits First Draft Of New Tree Ordinance

Stumps like this one have become more common in Greensboro neighborhoods. Duke energy says it cuts when necessary. Residents think the company is being too aggressive.
Credit Jeff Tiberii

Some residents in Greensboro are eagerly awaiting the details of a proposed tree ordinance. A city council subcommittee finished the draft for the ordinance this week, but it has not yet been made public.

The new measure comes in response to a dispute between property owners and Duke Energy over the company’s practice of cutting trees.  Nancy Vaughan is an at-large City Council member who helped write the ordinance draft.

"We were able to protect private property as well as public right of way," says  Vaughan.

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Environment
1:30 pm
Fri April 26, 2013

Study Shows How Trees Help CREATE Smog

Leaves produce a substance that exacerbates smog, a new study finds.
Credit Laura Candler

A new study from researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has revealed exactly how trees play a role in smog production. The question has been a source of scientific uncertainty for years, and the findings are a milestone in air pollution research, with potentially significant implications for public health.

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Environment
5:37 pm
Wed April 24, 2013

Greensboro Air Quality Improving, But Still Receives F-rating

Greensboro received an F-rating for air quality.
Credit Derrick Matthews, via Flickr, Creative Commons

The American Lung Association’s annual State of the Air report is out, and it slots Greensboro as the 42nd most polluted metro area in the county.  The city received an F-rating.

Laura-Kate Bender, who worked on the report, says the news wasn’t all bad.

"Despite getting an ‘F,' the area actually got its lowest overall number of smog days," she says. "So even though it received a failing grade, it’s a significant improvement over last year."

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The State of Things
1:10 pm
Wed April 24, 2013

What Is The Future Of Fracking In North Carolina?

A drill rig on a fracking site.
Credit EPA

A panel of guests discusses fracking in North Carolina with host Frank Stasio.

The natural gas extraction process called hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, has been a source of debate and contention in the state for quite some time now. It involves drilling horizontally through thousands of feet of shale and blasting the shale with water, sand and chemicals to release natural gas. Several states allow the process, some are in the process of figuring out how to regulate it, and some, like New York, have placed a moratorium on the process due to environmental concerns.

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Fracking North Carolina
5:00 am
Wed April 24, 2013

Fracking North Carolina: Could Neighbors Be Forced To Frack?

A Marcellus Shale drill rig in Pennsylvania used in the fracking process.
Credit Ken Skipper, USGS

Some landowners are worried they could be forced to allow fracking of their land even if they don’t want it. Richard Ziglar reports for the final part of our ‘Fracking North Carolina’ series.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a relatively new technology. It involves drilling horizontally through thousands of feet of shale and blasting the shale with water, sand and chemicals to release natural gas. The state’s Mining and Energy Commission is coming up with new regulations for the gas industry, and revisiting some old ones. Among the most contentious regulations are those for what’s called forced or compulsory pooling.

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