Environment

UNC Research Points To New Ozone Standard

Mar 18, 2011

On warm days like today, pollution in the air can produce excess ozone near the ground. And air quality officials often issue ozone alerts - warning people with breathing problems to reduce activity or stay indoors.  But new research from UNC indicates the current acceptable ozone levels established by the Environmental Protection Agency might actually be too high. 

Duke Energy

Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers says his company will continue to pursue building new nuclear plants in the Carolinas. Rogers spoke yesterday during a hearing of the North Carolina Utilities commission. Rogers was discussing the development of the Lee Nuclear Station in South Carolina. Duke is asking to spend $285 million to continue to develop the plant. Some of the money will likely come from a rate increase on North Carolina customers.

A controversial beach renourishment project is closer to getting underway in Nags Head on the Outer Banks. Town officials are lining up financing and preparing a contract for a company to perform the work. They say pumping dredged sand onto beaches suffering from erosion is a good way to protect the area's valuable shoreline. Nags Head Town Manager Cliff Ogburn says if it goes forward, the additional sand could preserve the beach front for up to a decade:

Fix A Leak Week

Mar 14, 2011
The EPA's Fix a Leak Week
epa.gov

Local utilities officials in the Triangle are encouraging residents to check for plumbing leaks in their homes this week. Durham and Cary have partnered with the Environmental Protection Agency in the "Fix a Leak Week" campaign. It works to inform utilities customers about how to check for leaks and step up efforts to conserve water. Cary's director of public works and utilities Steve Brown says toilet leaks are the most common:

A brown pelican that ended up in Canada after after being blown off course by Hurricane Earl has arrived in North Carolina. A wildlife organization in Nova Scotia nursed the injured seabird after it was found there last September. The species' natural habitat generally extends from the coast of northern Virginia to Peru. The pelican, nicknamed Ralph, arrived at the Outer Banks Wildlife Shelter in Newport this morning after he was deemed healthy enough to travel. 

Clinic supervisor Maria Rush says the first step in Ralph's rehabilitation is reintroducing him to his own kind.

Section of off-road Greenway in North Carolina
Dave Connelly, greenway.org

The East Coast Greenway Alliance is moving its national offices to Durham this spring to work on trails in the South. The Greenway is a network of biking, jogging, and walking trails that run from Maine to the Florida Keys. More than 80 percent of trails in North Carolina follow roadways.

Emergency officials are meeting today in Raleigh to plan for a possible energy disaster. The two-day event is being sponsored by the Department of Energy and includes representatives from 12 states across the southeast as well as Puerto Rico and The Virgin Islands. James Mercer of the Raleigh Emergency Management Office is coordinating the event.

Pisgah National Forest
usda.gov

A forestry law pushed by civic and business leaders in Asheville one hundred years ago is being celebrated today. The Weeks Act allowed the federal government to purchase private land for the establishment of National Forests. sg

James Lewis is a historian at The Forest History Society. He says what started in Asheville has grown to almost 20 million acres nationwide. 

weather
noaa.gov

North Carolina's Severe Weather Awareness week is underway. Meteorologists at the National Weather Service in Raleigh say it's the time of year when the threat of thunderstorms and other severe weather returns to the area. Among this week's events is a statewide tornado drill Wednesday morning. Meteorologist Darin Figurskey says seasonal weather changes can cause twisters to develop during the spring and summer months.

A wildfire in Cumberland County has destroyed about 1,000 acres of woods since Monday afternoon. The blaze continues to burn about five miles south of the Cedar Creek community in Fayetteville. State officials say firefighters are successfully controlling the fire. But Brian Haines of the North Carolina Forest Service says it's too early to tell exactly when crews will have the fire fully contained.

Wake Technical Community College is holding a two-day bio-diesel workshop this week. Students will learn how to convert waste vegetable oil into bio-diesel using the college’s new 40-gallon processor. Rich Cregar, an instructor in Automotive Systems Technology, started the course four years ago as part of a state-wide project to incorporate sustainable technologies into the curriculum of North Carolina’s community colleges.

The Division of Forest Resources is working to put out with a number of fires across the state. Windy, dry conditions have contributed to 211 fires over the past several days. Forest Resources spokesman Brian Haines says crews have had trouble containing the 582-acre Lumber Plant Fire in Surry County in western North Carolina.

Village leaders on Bald Head Island say their deer population is near the limit the island can support. One solution they're considering is shooting female deer with contraceptive-laced darts. But biologist Robbie Norville of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission says most wildlife contraceptives simply aren't effective.

Little Brown Bat with white-nose syndrome in Greeley Mine, VT, March 2009.
Marvin Moriarty/USFWS

White nose syndrome has arrived in North Carolina. The syndrome is a fungus that's been killing bats up and down the East Coast. In New York state, about 90 percent of some species of bat have died. Biologists have closed caves to spelunkers and hikers in an effort to control the spread.

Opposition is mounting against reopening Greensboro’s only landfill to solid household waste. The proposal upsets nearby residents who say it could harm their health and future development. A previous city council voted to close the landfill, which is located in a residential area. Former Councilwoman Goldie Wells is part of the Concerned Citizens of Northeast Greensboro.

"It shouldn’t have been brought up again because we had fought the battle once before. It’s not good for the community, not good for economic growth in this area, and really for the city of Greensboro."

One of the biggest solar farms on the east coast is now generating power for customers of Duke Energy. The joint project with Sun Edison is located in Davidson County. Jason Walls works for Duke Energy. He says the facility will generate enough electricity to power 26-hundred homes.

Economic growth and protecting the environment were at the heart of the Green Future for Economic Development Summit held in Raleigh Wednesday. Urban planners along with business, government and non-profit leaders met at the McKimmon Center on the N-C State campus. Sig Hutchinson chaired the event. He says business leaders are drawn to the Triangle in-part, by clean water and air.

Snow and ice this winter is proving costly for the state Department of Transportation. DOT spokesman Steve Abbott says the Department spent more than 31 million dollars through January 18th, already surpassing what was set aside for road clearing. He says that's because of the high number of storms we've seen this winter.

Today marks the first day new pollution rules go into effect for Falls Lake. The State Division of Water Quality found Falls Lake to be impaired in 2008.

Falls Lake is the source of drinking water for half a million Wake County residents, but most of the watershed lies in Durham and Granville Counties. That has put local officials at odds for the last 18 months as they hammered out the new rules.

Snow falling in many parts of central North Carolina is expected to turn to freezing rain tonight. A layer of at least a tenth of an inch of ice is likely to form. Brandon Vincent is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. He says the roads will be dangerous.

"We'll see freezing rain and freezing drizzle persisting perhaps all the way through Tuesday morning even into early Tuesday afternoon, so the road situation's going to get pretty bad later this evening and overnight."

People interested in offshore energy development along the North Carolina coast are invited to attend a series of public hearings this week. The meetings are being organized by Governor Bev Perdue's Scientific Advisory Panel on Offshore Energy. Seth Effron from the state's energy office says even though there's a moratorium on drilling for oil and gas, there are other sources to consider.

Warm-Up On The Way

Dec 28, 2010
Melting Snow, American Tobacco Campus
Laura Leslie

If the White Christmas has already lost its charm for you, then this weekend's forecast should be good news.  The Triangle will see spring-like temperatures to ring in the New Year.   Brandon Vincent is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Raleigh.

Growing A Broccoli Economy

Dec 23, 2010
Broccoli
Linda N. Flickr Creative Commons

Some North Carolina horticulture experts want you to get your next head of broccoli closer to home.

Broccoli is a 700-million-dollar a year industry in the U S, and most of that gets shipped from the West Coast. But agricultural scientists from N C State University think that can change.

Total lunar eclipse captured January 20-21, 2000
Mr. Eclipse/Fred Espenak; nasa.gov

Night owls across North Carolina could witness an eerie occurrence tonight. There will be a total lunar eclipse from around 1:30 to 4 am. That’s when the Earth is directly between the moon and sun, temporarily blocking out the moon.

Volunteers and wildlife rehabilitators have rescued about twenty endangered sea turtles from cold waters and beaches so far this month. Lou Browning is a wildlife rehabilitator on Hatteras Island who's been helping transport turtles stunned by cold waters to veterinarians.

"When the temperature drops quickly, we get a cold that comes through the sound and the water temperature drops dramatically, when it drops below about 56 degrees Fahrenheit, sea turtles have a difficult time and they become lethargic."

NC Building Codes Get Greener

Dec 14, 2010
ASU Tech Chair Jeff Tiller
ASU

The state’s Building Codes Council agreed today to require higher energy efficiency in new buildings.  Starting in 2012, commercial buildings must be 30% more energy efficient than they’re required to be today.  New homes must be 15% more efficient. That means more insulation, better windows, and other changes.

State officials are encouraging people in the Roanoke River Basin to attend public hearings on water usage. The state is holding a series of meetings focusing on the quantity of water needed to support population growth over the next few decades. Steve Reid works for the State Division of Water Resources. He says the river and its tributaries are used for everything from drinking water to recreational boating:

Walker Golder
Audubon North Carolina

One of the last undeveloped barrier islands in North Carolina is one step closer to permanent protection. Audubon North Carolina has purchased a 35-acre tract of land on Lea Island in Pender County. The money was made available through a private donation.

Chimney Rock Park Plans Posted

Nov 29, 2010

The public gets its first look today at the draft master plans for the new Chimney Rock State Park.  The landmark near Asheville has been one of western North Carolina’s top attractions for decades.  In 2007, its private owners sold it to the state to become part of a large new state park at Hickory Nut Gorge. 

weather map
NOAA

 

Today marks the start of the official “Winter Weather Preparedness Week.” State emergency officials will be educating the public on ways to be prepared in the event of nasty weather. Jeff Orrock is with the National Weather Service in Raleigh. He says this year’s forecast of an intensified La Nina system means there’s a good chance we’ll see a warmer, drier winter than last year’s:

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