Environment

Coal fired power plant in Wyoming
Greg Goebel / Flickr Creative Commons

Earlier this week the Obama Administration announced its EPA Clean Power Plan that directs states to lower greenhouse gas emissions from coal-burning power plants by around 32 percent by 2030.

Image of a sweat bee on button snakeroot
Barbara Driscoll

Bees are vital to the American food system. Honey bees alone contribute more than $15 billion to the American economy through pollination of plants that produce fruits, nuts and vegetables.

Image of Joel Bourne
Andrew Tie / WUNC

Eastern North Carolina native Joel Bourne was living down the road from his family farm at the end of the Green Revolution in the mid-20th century.

At that time, newly modified wheat seeds produced an agricultural boom that allowed farmers across the world to grow more crops than ever before. It was the answer to a growing crisis of food scarcity.

NC Legislative building
NC General Assembly

State lawmakers passed nearly 100 bills in two days to meet this session's crossover deadline, the time when non-budgetary measures have to pass at least one chamber of the General Assembly to stay alive.  

Bills about the death penalty, education policy and environmental regulations are among those that still have legs.

Host Frank Stasio talks with WUNC capitol reporter Jorge Valencia and WUNC education policy reporter Reema Khrais about the measures that survived or failed to meet the crossover deadline.

Official logo Earth Week That was the backdrop for the USED as prime time CBS News Special Report with Walter Cronkite about Earth Day 1970.
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Peter54321

Earth Day is now a prominent national event. But the roots of the first gathering in 1970 was just one politician's push to improve the rivers and hunting grounds in Wisconsin. The idea sparked other events that year across the nation and now April 22nd marks an annual recognition and celebration of environmental issues.

A picture of a coal ash pond.
Waterkeeper Alliance

    

This week, Duke Energy has paid $171 million to shareholders and the state of North Carolina.

The first bill was for $146 million to settle a lawsuit that claimed the company misled shareholders when it agreed to a merger with Progress Energy in 2012. The other $25 million was a fine from the state for spilling coal ash at a power plant in Wilmington.

Meanwhile, the conversation continues about how to dispose of the coal ash sitting at 14 sites across the state.

Guest host Phoebe Judge gets an update from WUNC environment reporter Dave DeWitt.

Ken Dodge's research has been following the same group of children for more than 20 years.
Ken Dodge

    

There is a common metaphor in the scientific community that uses flowers to describe children’s sensitivity to their environments.

A child like a dandelion will turn out fine despite the circumstances she is raised in, while a child like an orchid will flounder without a nourishing environment, but blossom with care and support.

Donald van der Vaart
DENR

From the state zoo to coal ash, from aquariums to climate change, the DENR secretary has plenty to worry about.

“I consider being the Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources the second-toughest job in state government,” says Bill Holman, who served as Secretary of DENR in the early 2000s, under Governor Jim Hunt.

For the record, he says leading the Department of Health and Human Services is the toughest job, but DENR Secretary is a close second.

Pipes from the Keystone XL Pipeline.
wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/de/Pipes_for_keystone_pipeline_in_2009.jpg

One of the measures topping the agenda for the new Republican Congress is passage of legislation to build the Keystone XL pipeline. 

Indian Beach, N.C.
flickr.com/photos/lilphil

The was originally broadcasted on 9/25/2014

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. 

The report drew heavy criticism from public officials and coastal developers. Their protests led to legislative action that temporarily prohibited policy decisions and directed the panel to complete a new report that forecasts only for 30 years. The panel met on September 24th and will release a draft report by the end of the year. 

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. 

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 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. 

On February 2, between 50,000 and 82,000 tons of coal ash and 27 million gallons of ash pond water waste were released at Duke Energy’s Dan River Steam Station (pictured above) north of Eden, N.C.
Steven Alexander / USFWS

Governor Pat McCrory says he'll allow a coal ash management plan to become law without his signature.

The governor says Duke Energy needs to take action as soon as possible. It needs to take care of the coal ash that's in ponds across the state. But that doesn't mean the governor is happy with the plan.

"I am letting the bill become law without signing it because there are major deficiencies that need to be corrected," he said in a recorded statement.

A Marcellus Shale drill rig in Pennsylvania used in the fracking process.
Ken Skipper, USGS

State officials are holding a hearing in Sanford today on proposed rules for hydraulic fracturing. Hundreds are expected to attend.

Fracking is a form of shale gas extraction, and it's controversial, among other things, because of it's a serious contamination threat to drinking water.

So as the North Carolina Mining and Energy Commission shares its proposed rules for the industry, many people are interested. Earlier this week, hundreds packed an auditorium at N-C State in Raleigh.

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