Environment

Fracking North Carolina
7:33 am
Mon April 22, 2013

Fracking North Carolina: Why Now?

Butler #3 natural gas well in Lee County.
Credit Ray Covington

In the first story in our Fracking North Carolina series, Richard Ziglar looks at why some people in North Carolina want to drill for gas now, and what it may mean for the state.

North Carolina has never been a player in natural gas production, but that could change thanks to a new extraction process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Fracking involves cracking shale rock to release natural gas so that it can be pumped out of the ground. This story is the first in a special “Fracking North Carolina” series. 

There’s a North Carolina sound that only a few dozen people have ever heard: gas escaping from a well in Lee County.

Standing in front of a well called Butler #3, you can see that it’s a shut-in well, which means it’s been capped with something called a “Christmas tree.” The Christmas tree is only about five feet tall; it’s painted green and it has three shut-off valves coming out of it. It’s set up this way so people can come back and attach pipes to it, but it has been shut off since the 1990s.

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Environment
5:01 am
Mon April 22, 2013

Progress Energy A Top Producer Of Solar Power Nationwide

One of Progress Energy's solar energy farms in San Antonio, Texas.
Credit Duke Energy/Progress Energy

The North Carolina utility company Progress Energy is among the nations leaders in solar production. Last year the utility company produced almost 70 megawatts of new solar generating capacity. The Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) says that’s the 8th highest output of all U.S. utility companies.

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Environment
2:00 pm
Fri April 19, 2013

Exploring Local Greenways: Orange County Trails Loved By Young And Old

Walking a dog on Bolin Creek Trail.
Credit Catherine Lazorko, Town of Chapel Hill

Orange County’s population may be smaller than that of its neighboring counties, but its greenways are no less loved. Chapel Hill and Carrboro both tout themselves as bike and pedestrian friendly towns, and Hillsborough has taken pains to create elaborate bicycle and walking routes throughout its downtown area that highlight dozens of historical buildings.  

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Environment
10:18 am
Fri April 19, 2013

More Rainfall Lessens Statewide Drought

State drought map. Yellow counties are abnormally dry, tan counties are moderately dry.
Credit State Division of Water Resources

North Carolina’s drought conditions are better than they were one year ago. Last April, 53 counties were experiencing a moderate drought – the lowest of the four drought categories. This year only eight of the state’s 100 counties are currently receiving that classification.

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Environment
5:05 am
Fri April 19, 2013

Bodie Island Lighthouse Opens To Public For The First Time

Bodie Island Lighthouse
Credit National Park Service

For the first time ever, the Bodie Island Lighthouse will be open for public tours.  The structure was built in 1872 and has been closed for a $5 million renovation for the past four years. Years of exposure to harsh weather had brought on structural and safety problems. Restoration work included repairs to the spiral stairs, brickwork and the lens that still serves as a navigational guide for ships.

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Environment
10:15 am
Wed April 17, 2013

Exploring Local Greenways: Wake County Creates Natural Corridors

A cyclist on the Capital Area Greenway System in Raleigh.
Credit City of Raleigh

Aside from the fact that Raleigh has a smartphone app for its greenways, the most impressive thing about its trails might be that so many of them are connected. Instead of a dribble of pavement here and there, the Capital Area Greenway System forms a giant loop around the city with several offshoots. There are sections where you can ride a bicycle over 30 miles without leaving a paved trail.

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Environment
3:54 pm
Tue April 16, 2013

Triangle Greenways Council Buys 22 Acres In Durham County For Future Trail

Chunky Pipe Creek
Credit Triangle Greenways Council

Just days after the City of Durham kicked off its trail season, the Triangle Greenways Council (TGC) has finalized a deal allowing for the creation a new greenway in Durham County. The group purchased a parcel of land along Chunky Pipe Creek, about two miles upstream from Falls Lake, Raleigh’s drinking water source (see a map here). The land has already been designated  for a future greenway project in the Durham Open Space Plan.

TGC  bought the land on April 10 from private owners, who will benefit from the NC Conservation Tax Credit and other federal tax deductions that incentivize conservation efforts. The purchase is the fourth parcel that TGC has bought along the creek.  The City of Raleigh provided funding via the Upper Neuse Clean Water Initiative, a consortium of seven conservation groups that aims to protect land important to  the health of drinking water sources in the Upper Neuse River Basin.

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Environment
9:46 am
Tue April 16, 2013

Ready Or Not, Here Come The Cicadas!

A 17-year periodic cicada from the Magicicada genus, similar to the ones that will emerge in parts of North Carolina.
Credit Bruce Marlin, via Wikimedia Commons

North Carolinians in the western Triangle and Triad soon will be visited en masse by the ear-splitting song of the 17-year cicadas. Over the next ten days or so, cicadas from  a group classified as Brood II will begin emerging from the ground and begin a month-long mating frenzy. The females will lay their eggs by sawing little slits into twigs on trees and depositing their eggs into those slits. When the eggs hatch, the nymphs drop to the ground and tunnel into the soil to feed on tree roots, where they'll stay for another 17 years until they become adults.

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Environment
5:00 am
Tue April 16, 2013

Coastal Plain Counties Praised For Conservation Efforts

Coastal plain counties where groundwater levels are improving.
Credit NC Division of Water Resources

Officials with the state Division of Water Resources say a new report shows great improvement in groundwater levels over a 15-county area in eastern North Carolina. According to state officials, deep-well, freshwater aquifers in the coastal plain have to stay above full capacity to keep from mixing with saltwater.  If they were to mix, cities would have to spend money to filter out saltwater to make their water is safe to drink.

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Environment
4:22 pm
Fri April 12, 2013

Deadly Bat Fungus Spreading Through Western NC

Bat with white-nose fungus.
Credit Photo courtesy Ryan von Linden/New York Department of Environmental Conservation

A deadly fungus known as white-nose syndrome has been decimating bat populations in the Eastern United States and is spreading quickly through western portions of North Carolina. It was discovered in upstate New York in 2006. The infection is marked by a white frosting of fungus around the bat's nose, ears, and wings.

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