Environment

An aerial picture of the Port of Wilmington
Wikimedia

Republicans and democrats in the sharply divided General Assembly might finally be able to find some common ground: Punishing Chemours, the DuPont-spinoff company that has contaminated drinking water in the Wilmington area and in residential wells in the vicinity of its Fayetteville plant.

The Dan River bank with residual dark grey coal ash.
Steven Alexander / USFWS

Duke Energy argued this week in hearings before the North Carolina Utilities Commission that the cost of cleaning up coal ash spills should be passed on to consumers. 

red wolf and pup
Brooke Gilley, US Forest Service / Flickr - Creative Commons - https://flic.kr/p/rT5zJf

In 1980 red wolves were declared extinct in the wild, but a special program to preserve the population helped stop the species from dying out. Now U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina is asking the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service to terminate the program, and he is not alone in his desire. 

Duke Energy's coal-burning plant and the adjacent coal ash ponds by the Dan River.
Riverkeeper Foundation

Hearings continue this week in Duke Energy's request for a rate hike, and among the costs that the utility is trying to recover is nearly $2 million for bottled water it provides to homeowners near coal ash pits. 

Former state environmental secretary Donald van der Vaart has resigned from the Department of Environmental Quality, amid an investigation.  A DEQ spokeswoman confirmed his departure Wednesday.  

Cape Fear River at Raven Rock State Park NC
Keith Weston / WUNC

Tests have shown a total of 85 residential wells near the Chemours plant in Fayetteville with GenX levels above the state health advisory goal--and that number could very well go up as more results come in.

Duke Energy's coal-burning plant and the adjacent coal ash ponds by the Dan River.
Riverkeeper Foundation

Updated 3:55 p.m. | Nov. 27, 2017

The country's largest electric company says charging North Carolina consumers the full, multi-billion-dollar cost of cleaning up coal ash dumps is comparable to tire stores charging customers an extra fee to dispose of an old set of radials.

Shorter winters mean fewer days between the first and last freeze in any year.
Duke University via Duke Today

Winter is coming, later and later. And then spring comes ever earlier.

Analyzing freeze dates from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows that the days between the first freeze of fall and the last freeze of spring are shrinking.

Cape Fear River at Raven Rock State Park NC
Keith Weston / WUNC

The state Department of Environmental Quality announced Thursday it is taking steps to revoke Chemours' wastewater permit for discharging certain fluorinated chemical compounds, including GenX. The Dupont-affiliated company manufactures GenX for use in non-stick surfaces like Teflon.

Republican U.S. Senator Richard Burr
Kara Lynne Wiley / WUNC

North Carolina's two Republican senators say they oppose President Donald Trump's pick to oversee chemical safety at the Environmental Protection Agency, putting Michael L. Dourson's nomination at serious risk.

In this Monday, Nov. 6, 2017 file photo, Native people from Fiji sit in the convention center during the opening of the COP 23 Fiji UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany.
Martin Meissner / AP Photo

Nearly 200 countries are wrapping up the annual U.N. climate summit in Bonn, Germany this week.

Rusty Jacobs / WUNC

Updated 2:39 p.m. | Nov. 13, 2017

Mike Watters is angry. The military veteran lives in a subdivision about a mile from the center of Fayetteville Works, a plant owned by DuPont affiliate Chemours.

A picture of a diver near a lionfish.
John McCord / UNC Coastal Studies Institute.

Officials with the North Carolina Aquarium are encouraging recreational divers and spear fishermen to hunt invasive lionfish off the coast.

Cape Fear River, NC, at Raven Rock Park
Blipperman / Wikimedia Commons

This week Brunswick County filed a lawsuit against Chemours and DuPont for their involvement in discharging the contaminant GenX into the Cape Fear River. The lawsuit is seeking to recover the costs to the county for investigating, managing, reducing and removing the chemical.

It is one of several lawsuits against Chemours and DuPont. Last week a Leland resident filed a class action lawsuit against the two companies after she discovered GenX in her water heater.

What if a dam holding back coal ash burst at one of Duke Energy's coal plants in the Carolinas or Midwest? Newly released maps from Duke show many properties would be inundated, including some homes and docks. The maps are now public, after environmentalists threatened to sue. 

The Dismal Swamp will reopen on 10/31/17 after being closed for more than a year because of damage from Hurricane Matthew. The trees have been cleared, but there's a layer of green duckweed now.
Courtesy of the Dismal Swamp Welcome Center

The Dismal Swamp Canal will reopen Tuesday under restricted conditions. The Army Corps of Engineers closed it more than a year ago, after damage from Hurricane Matthew.

Austin Allen / Duke Nicholas School of the Environment

Duke University researchers have new insight into why marine animals are eating plastic.

The Sweeney Water Treatment Plant in Wilmington is part of the Cape Fear Public Utility.
Rusty Jacobs / WUNC

A utility that provides water in southeastern North Carolina has sued a company it accuses of polluting the Cape Fear River, where the utility gets its water.

Jim Flechtner, Executive Director of Cape Fear Public Utility Authority.
Rusty Jacobs / WUNC

New Hanover County Commission Chairman Woody White found out about GenX the same way many others in and around Wilmington did. It was June 8th, and he slept in a little since he was on vacation.

irginia Department of Environmental Quality Firector, David Paylor walks along a retention pond for a spring near the route of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline in Bolar, Va.
Steve Helber, File / AP

A divided panel of federal regulators granted approvals Friday evening for the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley natural gas pipelines, major East Coast projects.

Great Dismal Swamp
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is trying to reverse more than two centuries of damage to sensitive peat soil in the Great Dismal Swamp.

Greenbelt view from Germany
Nickel van Duijvenboden / Wikimedia Commons -2017

Today the European Green Belt is a stretch of rich and flourishing land in Western Europe that extends north to south for thousands of miles. However, during the Cold War the strip was a no-man’s land that separated the Soviet Union from non-Soviet countries. 

flooding in Raleigh
Gerry Broome / AP

A year ago, Hurricane Matthew dumped a dozen or more inches of rain on central and eastern North Carolina. Record flooding in the days following the storm devastated communities downstream.

State Senate chamber
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

Republican lawmakers used their super-majorities Wednesday to override another of Governor Roy Cooper's vetoes.

This time, the General Assembly vetoed an environmental bill that provides some money – but not enough, according to Cooper – to address a little-studied chemical discharged into a river.

An image of overturned chairs outside of West Lumberton Elementary School
Lisa Philip / WUNC

Last October Hurricane Matthew caused more than two dozen deaths in North Carolina. Floods damaged much of the eastern part of the state, and communities are still picking up the pieces.

An Enviva wood pellet plant in Northampton, N.C.
Courtesy of Enviva

A biomass fuel plant that processes tree scraps into wood pellets has some North Carolinians concerned about its potential environmental and health impacts.

Cape Fear River at Raven Rock State Park NC
Keith Weston / WUNC

A special house committee met Thursday in Raleigh to discuss the discharge of unregulated chemicals into the Cape Fear River - but the committee heard more questions than answers about potential health effects.

Duke Energy's coal-burning plant and the adjacent coal ash ponds by the Dan River.
Riverkeeper Foundation

Updated 10:28 a.m., Sept. 25

The country's largest electric company says it will publish federally mandated maps that it previously refused to publish, showing what could happen to neighboring properties if a coal-ash pit burst.

a flooded road after Hurricane Matthew
Leoneda Inge / WUNC

Multiple major hurricanes in the last few weeks have led to a renewed discussion of climate change, and when it is appropriate, to discuss possible policy and lifestyle changes.

coal ash
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

The Environmental Protection Agency has announced it will reconsider safeguards the Obama Administration put in place to regulate coal ash disposal.

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