Environment

North Topsail Beach
North Topsail Beach

North Topsail Beach officials are hoping the federal government will help rebuild after coastal flooding associated with Hurricane Joaquin washed away about $15 million in sand there.

FEMA officials visited the area twice in the last two weeks. They will decide if a federal disaster declaration is warranted. If granted, federal money will be used to replenish sand and rebuild dunes along the coastline.

Falls Lake
JCWF / Wikipedia

Reservoirs are full and over-flowering after North Carolina received 15-inches of rain in the past week.

State Climatologist Ryan Boyles says that's about three-months-worth of rain. Boyles says the rain was welcome, at first, after a very dry summer.

"Sometimes it's either too little or too much, and it's not very often that we can get just the right amount," Boyles said. "But in particular, it's tough to manage when so much rain falls over such a short period of time. The ground just can't absorb it."

Kelly Holden stands in front of his truck a few days after rain and flood waters damaged some of the fruit and vegetable crops on his 250 acres of land. His family has been farming in Brunwisck County since the 1750s.
Jeff Tiberii

Farmers across eastern North Carolina are assessing crop damage following heavy rains and flooding. Some growers have lost entire fields while others will wait weeks to determine what can be harvested. As local and state officials scurry to place a value on what was lost, members of the agriculture community say they’re glad the harm wasn’t worse.

Governor Pat McCrory addressed a gaggle of local officials and media members on Tuesday in Brunswick County. He says the main focus now is determining how to best help farmers in the eastern region of the state effected by weekend storms.
Jeff Tiberii

Many farmers in eastern North Carolina continue to assess crop damage following weekend storms. Flooded fields are expected to result in depleted peanut, sweet potato and cotton harvests this fall. Governor Pat McCrory expressed concern about the agriculture industry at a Tuesday briefing.

The Ocracoke Lighthouse in Hyde County was built almost 200 years ago. It's a popular destination for visitors of the island and remains one of the oldest operating lighthouses in the United States.
Jeff Tiberii

Along the North Carolina coast, Hyde County remained under a state of emergency Monday evening with rain expected to continue through the night.

A picture of a puddle.
Wars / Wikipedia

Several storms, including Hurricane Joaquin, have brought heavy rains, strong winds, and high tides to North Carolina. It's causing flooding, saturated ground, slick roads and falling trees.

Allen plant
Duke Energy

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has reached an estimated $20 million settlement with Duke Energy for groundwater contamination at all of its 14 coal ash facilities. The settlement also requires Duke Energy to accelerate clean-up of groundwater contamination at four coal ash sites:

biogas
Dave DeWitt

To a visitor, the hog houses down a dusty dirt road outside Magnolia, North Carolina look like any other hog houses.

Here in Duplin County, there are low-slung buildings like this one around every bend, filled with hundreds of thousands of hogs. But this facility is different—just how different can be found down the hill behind the building.

Manure, flowing from the hog house, falls out of a pipe and into an open-air cement tank. From here, it goes to a much larger, circular, blue tank called a digestor.

BOEM

North Carolina is one step closer to offshore wind turbines. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management - the federal agency that supervises offshore wind power development as well as offshore oil drilling - announced earlier today the completion of an environmental review of three potential sites off the North Carolina coast.

BOEM found no significant environmental or socioeconomic issues that should stop the issuing of wind energy leases.

Dave DeWitt

The dank, dark tunnel deep inside the Cowans Ford Dam—about 100 feet or so below the water line of Lake Norman north of Charlotte—is where I learn a little-known fact.

All dams leak.

Jeff Lineberger, Duke Energy’s director of Hydro Strategy and Licensing, and Mike Williams, the Cowans Ford facility director, smile and patiently explain to a novice the small waterfalls cascading down a staircase and into a trough alongside the tunnel.

solar
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

The 429-page state budget, released just before midnight Monday, contains plenty of provisions that will affect the future of the environment in North Carolina.

A picture of autumn trees along a roadway.
Jared Kay / exploreasheville.com

The fall foliage season begins later this month in the western part of the state.  Officials say it can run from late September until late October or early November depending on weather. 

Cat Kessler works for the Asheville Convention and Visitors Bureau.  She says biologists and other experts are calling for especially vibrant colors this year.   

flounder
NC DENR

The General Assembly may halt an effort by the state agency tasked with managing fisheries to limit flounder catches.

Last month, the Marine Fisheries Commission was supposed to vote on setting limits on southern flounder, a staple on restaurant menus across the state and a $4.8 million business for commercial fishermen.

Those limits included raising the minimum size limit to 15 inches, implementing a total allowable catch limit for commercial harvest, the prohibition of large-mesh gill nets and no further reductions to the recreational limits.

Allen plant
Duke Energy

Duke Energy has settled a landmark lawsuit over air pollution at coal-burning power plants in North Carolina.

The suit was first filed in 2000 by the U.S. Justice Department, on behalf of the EPA. They alleged that Duke Energy violated the federal Clean Air Act by unlawfully modifying 13 coal-fired electricity generating units located at the Allen, Buck, Cliffside, Dan River, and Riverbend plants, without obtaining air permits and installing and operating the required air pollution control technologies.

Hurricane Irene
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center / Flickr Creative Commons

North Carolina could experience fewer hurricanes in the coming decades, according to a new study from Colorado State University.

The Atlantic Ocean has been in an active era of hurricane activity since 1995, but cooler water temperatures and lower salinity rates in the North Atlantic could signal a beginning of the inactive period. 

Jordan Lake, Durham, NC
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

State lawmakers have 10 days before the latest temporary budget expires.

The House and Senate are trying to reconcile their $21 billion spending plans, and among the sticking points are environmental issues, including the state's solar energy tax credit, renewable energy standards, and water quality requirements for Jordan Lake.

Jordan Lake, Durham, NC
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

Two proposals in the State Legislature would have a significant impact on the so-called Jordan Lake Rules. The rules were passed in 2009 and were designed to reduce polluted runoff into the lake, among other regulations. Jordan Lake has been on the federal list of impaired waterways since 2002.

One provision in the current Senate budget would delay the implementation of the Jordan Lake Rules for two years. The rules have been delayed previously in 2011, 2012, and 2013.

red wolf
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

Conservation groups notified the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today that they intend to sue the federal agency over its management of the Red Wolf Recovery Program.

The groups say the Fish and Wildlife Service has failed in its responsibility to protect red wolves. The nearly 30-year old program is an effort to re-introduce the animals that were extinct in the wild.

Coal-burning factories next to a marsh
Alan Cressler

Environmental scientists from the local, national and international levels will convene at North Carolina State University to discuss climate change and its impact on agriculture. A panel will discuss topics such as agricultural risk management and the economic impact of climate change to North Carolina and the southeast.

Black Tip sharks feed on the coast near Cape Lookout.
Shark Attack News

When Virginia Dare, America’s original “anchor baby,” was born on Roanoke Island in the 1500s, top-level predators were everywhere in the area now known as North Carolina.

solar
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

Solar installation companies are calling on Duke Energy and the General Assembly to continue a tax cut they say is key to their future.

When combined with a 30 percent federal tax break, the state’s 35 percent tax credit has propelled North Carolina to become one of the top four states in the country for installed solar capacity, behind only California, Arizona, and New Jersey.

Faith Community Church
NC Warn

By any measure, the solar array on the roof of the Faith Community Church in Greensboro is small. A little more than five kilowatts. It’s barely enough to run the building’s central air conditioning for one hour a day.

The Bonner Bridge connects Bodie and Hatteras Islands on the Outer Banks
ncdot.org

The last legal obstacles have been cleared to begin the process of rebuilding the Bonner Bridge.

Governor Pat McCrory announced today that the final terms have been settled between the state and environmental groups. The 52-year old Bonner Bridge spans the Oregon Inlet.

“This marks another historic milestone in finally replacing the critical lifeline bridge for residents and visitors of the Outer Banks and supporting our continued efforts to connect North Carolina,” McCrory said in a press release. 

Marshall Steam Station
Duke Energy

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has released more test results of water wells near three Duke Energy power plants.

hogs
NC Dept of Agriculture

Farmers gamble millions—sometimes tens of millions —of dollars on the weather every year. When they place their bets on crops and animals, they look at the science, they listen to experts, and sometimes they think about stories their mama used to tell them.

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