The Monitor is one of the most famous ships – and shipwrecks – in U.S. naval history. After several battles in 1862, the Union ironclad sunk 16 miles off the coast of Cape Hatteras during the Civil War.

The wreck was discovered in 1973, and two years later the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary was created, protecting the site and one-mile of water that encircles it.

Now, NOAA wants to create similar sanctuaries around other important historical shipwrecks off the North Carolina coast.

Image of two polar bears on ice sheet suffering the effects of climate change
Jessica Robertson / U.S. Geological Survey

Climate change was a prominent global topic in 2015, with both the Paris climate talks and the Pope’s encyclical stirring up conversation about the future of the planet.

But questions remain about what role businesses and community institutions should play in the ongoing effort. Some say that the Pope’s encyclical speaks to a need for religious leaders to step up in the movement, while others say that the business community needs to take the lead.

A picture of sleet
Mike Epp / Wikipedia

A wintry mix is falling north of the Triangle, with snow covering Granville, Vance, and Person Counties.

Tom Augspurger (l), USFWS, taking core sample during February 8th reconnaissance of Dan River coal ash spill. (l-r) Tom Augsperger, USFWS, John Fridell, USFWS, Rick Smith, Duke Energy. Photo by Steve Alexander, USFWS..
Steve Alexander / USFWS

The state Department of Environmental Quality has issued a $6.6 million fine against Duke Energy for violations associated with the Dan River Coal Ash spill two years ago.

US Embassy Canada / Flickr Creative Commons

North Carolina is one of the leading states in solar energy. 

But the recent elimination of some tax credits and the possibility of solar permitting may slow the growth of solar energy in the state. And the Department of Environmental Quality is considering a change to the state’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards that could affect renewable energy production in the state. 

Forest History Society

The demand for wood at the end of the 19th century decimated America's forests in the North and Midwest with unsustainable logging practices. However, innovative techniques started to bloom as German forester Carl Schenck began to manage the thousands of acres of woodlands around the recently-built Biltmore Estate near Asheville.

Schenck's strategies for foresting and his creation of the first forestry school helped Pisgah National Forest become the first national forest established from private land.

coal ash
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

February is a big month for Duke Energy to move coal ash out of its Dan River site.

With a new two-mile rail spur in place and machines moving material from large “ash stacks” – soil-covered mounds of coal ash - Duke Energy expects to double its current rate of progress.

Dan River
Steven Alexander, USFWS

An advisory board created by Duke Energy says nearly all of the company’s coal ash ponds in North Carolina can safely be capped in place.

The National Ash Management Advisory Board was created by Duke Energy a few months after the Dan River spill. It is made up of engineering faculty from across the country and executives from the private sector.

Dave DeWitt

The North Carolina Supreme Court has sided with Governor Pat McCrory in a case against leaders in the General Assembly.

Image of bottled water provided by Duke Energy to families affected by the coal ash spill.
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

Next month will mark two years since 40,000 tons of coal ash and 27 million gallons of contaminated water flowed into Dan River as a result of a Duke Energy spill. The electric utility giant is working to clean up the coal ash at multiple sites across the state.

But legal infighting and regulatory delays have stalled progress at 10 of the 14 sites. Meanwhile some residents are afraid to drink out of their tap.

Dave DeWitt / WUNC

A key energy advisory commission today pushed back a decision on adding nuclear power to a list of approved energy sources, and create a new Clean Energy Portfolio Standard that would replace the current standard based on renewable energy.

Snow plow clearing the road

WUNC's complete coverage of the winter storm's timeline, impact, and ongoing closures and power outages.  Check back throughout the day and evening.

The house centipede, Scutigera coleoptrata .
Bruce Marlin / Wikipedia

Researchers are looking into how many arthropods may be living in US homes.  Arthropods include insects, spiders and centipedes.  Initial findings were based on searches of 50 free-standing houses in Raleigh.

Salt brine sprayed and dried on a road surface for anti-icing before a snow storm
Z22 / Wikipedia

Winter Storm Jonas is headed across North Carolina tonight into early tomorrow morning.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Brandon Dunstan says the Triangle could get up to five inches of snow before tomorrow morning's commute; the Triad could see 10 inches. Freezing rain will likely fall throughout the afternoon.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation spokesman Steve Abbot says the department is ready.

coal ash
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

Duke Energy is the largest electric utility in the country, with nearly $25 billion in annual operating revenue. And on a cold, blustery day at its Dan River site, that corporate power is on display.

Massive machines–40-ton trucks, front-end-loaders, and bulldozers–are moving in perfect synchronization, loading coal ash and soil into rail cars.

“This is priority one for Duke Energy right now,” says Jeff Brooks, a Duke Energy spokesman. “This is the most important thing that many of us have worked on for several years now. We have an army of engineers and technical staff that have developed the closure plans for these sites.”

Cold sky in the woods.

An Arctic cold front passed through the region Monday, bringing below-freezing temperatures to the Triad and Triangle.

National Weather Service Forecaster Scott Sharp says temperatures have hovered in the teens so far this morning.

A picture of a coal ash pond.
Waterkeeper Alliance

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality says Duke Energy will have to excavate most of its coal ash pits in North Carolina.

A new report says 20 pits have to be cleaned up rather than covered, but environmental groups think that number should be higher and point to an earlier draft report that identified 27 pits for excavation. 

mid-currituck bridge

A controversial bridge project that would make the northern Outer Banks more accessible could happen earlier than expected.

The Mid-Currituck Bridge has been on the drawing board for years. The seven-mile bridge would cross the Currituck sound and link Corolla to the mainland.

The State Department of Transportation heard a proposal for a quicker timeline for bridge construction earlier this month. Gov. Pat McCrory outlined the fast-tracking of the project in November.

NC Wildlife Resources Commission

North Carolina’s hunters may soon get a chance to bag a gator.

The State Wildlife Resources Commission is considering adding alligators to the list of "huntable" animals.

According to the best guess by biologists, the number of alligators has risen steadily in North Carolina in recent years. An exact number of the stealthy, largely nocturnal reptiles is very hard to determine.

People walk past erosion on the beach caused by Hurricane Ophelia on Kure Beach, N.C. in 2005.

Kure and Carolina Beaches are closed until spring for a roughly $10 million beach nourishment project. Sand dredged up from the ocean is being used to replenish the eroding beaches.

Oil drilliing

A new economic assessment is the latest effort in the ongoing fight over possible oil exploration off the North Carolina coast.

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

A standing-room-only crowd packed a state government board room in Raleigh last night to express their thoughts on North Carolina’s commitment to climate change.

A SolarBee
Medora Corporation

North Carolina is home to seven natural lakes. Jordan Lake—despite its name—is not one of them. It’s a reservoir, created in 1974.

And almost from the day it was first dammed, Jordan Lake has been impaired.

Image of wood pellets, which are causing an environmental controversy in North Carolina. Though the energy source is carbon neutral in theory, that's not always true in practice.
Andrew_Writer / Flickr Creative Commons

The wood pellet industry is booming in North Carolina, thanks in part to high demand from Europe. Power plants burn the wood product to create energy, but wood pellet companies are cutting down trees at a higher rate than anticipated, raising questions about whether the practice really is carbon neutral.

The Latest On Paris Climate Change Talks

Dec 10, 2015
Justin Catanoso is covering COP 21 in Paris, where global leaders hope to finalize a universal agreement to fight climate change.
Eric. J. Lyman

Ice caps are melting, ocean levels are rising and coral reefs are dying. The way things are going, some scientists say the world could be unfit for human habitation by the end of century.

All eyes are on Paris right now as world leaders are negotiating an agreement to slow the effects of climate change. A deal is expected by tomorrow, but there are still big issues to resolve between the industrialized and developing nations.