Frost design
RachelEllen via Flickr/Creative Commons

Residents of the Piedmont will experience a bitter cold snap Tuesday morning.  A strong front passing through the state Monday evening will lead to temperatures only reaching as high as the 30s Tuesday.  

National Weather Service meteorologist Scott Sharp says the chilly weather will stretch into Tuesday night.

Sharp predicts it will be very cold Tuesday night with lows near 20, upper teens in more outlying areas. 

Then on Wednesday we will start what Sharp calls a moderating trend, with temperatures still well below normal for this time of year. 

Dave DeWitt

The North Carolina Coal Ash Commission has begun the process of creating rules and regulations to manage the cleanup of Duke Energy’s 32 coal ash ponds.

The Commission has a huge job. Among other things, Commission Chair Michael Jacobs made it clear that cost will be a consideration.

“To the extent that cleanup costs are passed on to the residents and businesses of North Carolina through higher power rates, everyone who uses power will share the expense,” Jacobs said.

Duke Energy has said it would cost $10 billion to move coal ash from all sites.

Craig Bromby
Hunton & Williams LLP

A lawyer advising North Carolina's environmental agency on rewriting clean-up rules for Duke Energy's coal ash dumps previously represented the electricity company on the same issue.

Craig Bromby was hired in June at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. He retired in March as a partner at the Raleigh office of Hunton & Williams, where his corporate clients included Duke.

Dan River
Steven Alexander, USFWS

The long road to determining how Duke Energy will clean up its 32 coal ash ponds starts today. The Coal Ash Management Commission holds it first meeting in Chapel Hill.

Among the many decisions the Commission will make is classifying the ponds as low, intermediate, or high-risk.

“The classification is really going to drive what the final closure plan looks like,” says Robin Smith, an environmental attorney and a former assistant secretary at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

A manhole cover at night
Evan Blaser / Flickr/Creative Commons

Scott Huler explores city infrastructure for his new book, On the Grid. Listen to the stories of what's been found in Raleigh's sewers:

Here's an excerpt from the book:

Oil drilliing


In 2015, oil industry representatives will begin exploration off the Carolina coastlines. Some of those representatives met with government officials last week in Raleigh. But the details around their closed-door meeting are scant. Supporters say the potential drilling could create jobs and revenue for the state but environmentalists maintain that drilling harms humans and wildlife. Host Frank Stasio talks with WUNC environmental reporter Dave Dewitt about the latest.

The commission tasked with drafting the rules for hydraulic fracturing in North Carolina is considering some small changes. The Mining and Energy Commission is meeting today and tomorrow in Raleigh.

Over the past several months, the MEC received more than 200,000 comments from nearly 40,000 people. Many wanted an outright fracking ban; others pointed to more specific rule changes they wanted, like requiring pits that store fracking waste to be capped.

Image of Pisgah National Forest
Flickr/Jeff Gun


The Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests in western North Carolina play an integral role in the state’s environment and economy. 

A man out on a mission to hand his Walk [Your City] signage in Charleston.

Lots of cities cater to populations that prefer to drive.

Man sitting on a park bench
Grant MacDonald / Flickr/Creative Commons

Raleigh voters have approved a $92-million bond referendum to improve parks and recreational facilities in the capital city.  The measure was solidly supported, 68 percent to 32 percent.

Voters' approval will mean a rise in property tax of 1.72 cents that will go into effect next July.

Funds from that tax increase will also pay for acquisition of new park land and new construction.  The plans for improvement are detailed in a new System Plan adopted by the Raleigh City Council.

A hog waste lagoon in Beaufort County, NC.
DefMo / Flickr Creative Commons


It’s been an environmental quandry for years: what to do hog waste in North Carolina.

The state is home to nearly 9 million hogs, which produce massive amounts of waste.

Some of it goes back onto the farms of eastern North Carolina as fertilizer, but much of it is stored in open-air lagoons, which have been known to contaminate groundwater and produce a putrid smell for nearby homes.

A new technology exists to convert the waste into energy but it is not affordable for most hog farmers.



Earlier this year, a new law lifted the ban on fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, in North Carolina.  Legislators said fracking permits could be issued as early as this coming spring. The process, which extracts natural gas from deep within the earth, is a controversial one.

Opponents say allowing fracking here could cause air and water pollution and adversely affect vulnerable populations. Advocates say fracking could bring economic prosperity and jobs to the state.

Host Frank Stasio talks with a panel of experts about fracking:

A picture of Crabtree Creek flowing into Neuse River, at Anderson Point Park, Raleigh
bobistraveling / Flickr

The city of Raleigh and Johnston County are considering sharing water resources as both communities prepare for exponential population growth.

The county and the city have asked a water planning firm to evaluate the benefits and feasibility of working together to secure new water sources.

Kenneth Waldroup works in water planning for Raleigh Public Utilities Department. He says Johnston County is situated just down the Neuse River from Raleigh, and it's likely that the municipalities are duplicating planning efforts.

Apple solar

When Apple makes an announcement – any announcement – the world stops and listens. And while it wasn’t a new product launch, when Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke last month ahead of the United Nations Climate Summit, it was a big deal.

“We have a huge data center in Maiden North Carolina,” Cook said. “There were no options to buy renewable energy. Our only way to do that, was to build it.”

Partial solar eclipse
T. Ruen / NASA Goddard via Twitter

There will be a partial solar eclipse tonight at 6:00. The eclipse is expected to last about three hours. Such an eclipse occurs when the moon obscures part of the sun.

Nags Head
Dave DeWitt

Governor Pat McCrory met yesterday in Wilmington with the Coastal Resources Commission. The CRC advises state government on zoning, building, and other issues that affect North Carolina’s 20 coastal counties.

It was the first time the Governor had publicly met with the CRC since the State Legislature overhauled it last year. McCrory and Republican leaders in the General Assembly appointed many new members. Frank Gorham, the current chair, works in the oil and gas industry.

Corporal Simon Irungu and a platoon of armed guards at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya watch over four of the last seven northern white rhinos in existence.
Ami Vitale / http://magazine.nature.org/features/the-price-of-poaching.xml

For indigenous tribes in Kenya, land is everything. 

  Fracking- the process of extracting natural gas from deep below the Earth’s surface- is one of the most hotly debated but least understood practices.  As the state’s politicians weigh the pros and cons of introducing fracking to the North Carolina, experts present their findings. What are the environmental, economic and political factors surrounding this controversial topic?  

A red wolf
Joan Lopez via Flickr/Creative Commons

Wildlife officials are looking into what is believed to be the illegal shooting death of a red wolf in eastern North Carolina. 

State and federal officials announced the investigation in a news release Friday.  They say the radio-collared red wolf was found dead of an apparent gunshot wound last month in Tyrrell County.  It's the third red wolf to die this year from a gunshot. 

The first two deaths happened in January and March.  Seven other red wolves have died of other various reasons ranging from natural causes to being hit by cars.

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

A series of videos and photos show masses of sharks on the North Carolina shoreline. Two videos posted online this week show what appear to be blacktip and/or spinner sharks in a feeding frenzy near Cape Lookout.

The sharks are further ashore than usual, feeding in just a few inches of water.

Nancy Fish, with the state Division of Marine Fisheries, said it's a migratory season for fish, which can lead to shark activity closer to shore.

Jennette's Pier
Dave DeWitt

Whether it’s in the mountains or off the coast, North Carolina has plenty of wind. It also has a lot of land, suitable ports, and infrastructure to become a major player in the industry along the east coast.

But that hasn’t happened.


As you are reading this, a ship is very likely miles off the North Carolina coast, mapping the ocean floor. It’s part of a National Science Foundation project that’s using seismic testing, blasting sound waves through the waters.

As early as next spring, the very same controversial process will be used by a different interest: The oil and gas industry will begin looking for places it might want to drill.

This past August, the Obama Administration announced it would begin allowing testing for oil and gas reserves off the Atlantic Coast.

An aerial picture of the Port of Wilmington

The North Carolina State Ports Authority wants to study the feasibility of deeper water access at the Port of Wilmington. 

SPA officials say the request has gone out to the Army Corps of Engineers. 

Laura Blair works for the state ports authority.  She said there are economic reasons for the study.

“What we know now is that other states, our competition if you will, ports in South Carolina and Georgia even ports in Florida are either studying deepening their channels or are actively deepening their channels now.”

A map shows how various levels of sea-level rise would impact eastern NC.
Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI) at East Carolina University


In 2010, the science panel that advises the North Carolina Coastal Resources Commission released a report stating the state should prepare for 39 inches of sea level rise by 2100. 

Duke Energy workers hammered and drilled along the Dan River boardwalk Wednesday morning.
Jeff Tiberii

Duke Energy is putting $10 million toward the improvement of waterways in five Southeastern States. The new Water Resources Fund was introduced Wednesday at multiple news conferences.  Duke has also announced plans to remove coal ash from three unlined dumps in South Carolina. But there is no immediate timetable for such removal in North Carolina. This comes almost eight months after the third largest coal ash spill in U.S. history.