Environment

State Senate chamber
Dave DeWitt

  The North Carolina Senate has tentatively passed a sweeping, 62-page bill that would make several changes to state regulations.

The proposal includes provisions that cover a lot of ground – everything from banning cursing on the highways to increasing penalties for parking in handicapped spaces or for violating endangered species.  

Many Senate leaders say the bill is meant to make state rule-making more efficient, while increasing protections for the environment and public.

Early morning anglers heading downstream from Avent's Ferry on the Cape Fear River, near Corinth, North Carolina.
Donald Lee Pardue / Flickr/Creative Commons

There are 17 major rivers in North Carolina, but Philip Gerard puts the Cape Fear River at number one.

Photo: A farm in Lee County
Donald Lee Pardue via Flickr

The North Carolina Senate has tentatively approved legislation that would lift the state’s de-facto moratorium on hydraulic fracturing next year, but will likely be challenged by the House of Representatives and Governor Pat McCrory.

The bill, known as the Energy Modernization Act, calls for the state to start issuing permits for drilling companies to extract natural gas through the controversial drilling method known as fracking on July 1, 2015.

Photo: A pond in Lee County
Donald Lee Pardue via Flickr

Two North Carolina legislative committees recommended on Tuesday that the state begin issuing permits in July next year for mining companies to extract natural gas in the state using a controversial drilling method known as fracking.

State lawmakers looked at different types of fracking legislation in 2012 and 2013. On Tuesday, the senate’s commerce and finance committees sent the bill to the senate floor for a vote. Sen. Buck Newton (R-Wilson) is one of the sponsors.

A map of Duke Energy's 14 coal ash sites and their operational status in 14 energy plants across the state.
Duke Energy

Duke Energy told North Carolina law makers Tuesday that it would cost up to $10 billion and could take 30 years to remove all the company’s coal ash from areas near rivers and lakes across the state.  

In a hearing called specifically to address the coal ash basins, Duke’s North Carolina President Paul Newton told law makers the company needed flexibility to find faster and less costlier alternatives to ensure its ash won’t contaminate bodies of water.

Greensboro skyline
creative commons

  

 The Greensboro City Council approved a plan directing $65 million toward the development of a performing arts center in Greensboro. Similar venues in Durham and Charlotte have brought revenue and recognition to the cities. Greensboro leaders hope their investment will yield similar rewards. 

Photo: A rig and gas well operation on the Marcellus Shale in Scott Township, Pennsylvania.
WCN247 via Flickr

North Carolina lawmakers are beginning to look at how they would tax the shale gas drilling companies for extracting gas from the ground in the state.

Members of the legislative commission that handles laws on energy heard Tuesday afternoon about how states that allow fracking charge companies for removing gas from the ground.

Diane Rehm
Glogau Photography

Did you miss it? The Diane Rehm Show devoted an episode earlier this week to the coal ash spill in Eden, NC.

(The spill was caused by a pipe failure at a Duke Energy location. Coal ash is leftover from the process of burning coal. The ash is considered toxic, and is held in ponds. This spill is the third largest of its kind in U.S. history.)

This was an interesting part of the show, between Frank Holleman of the Southern Environmental Law Center and Diane Rehm:

Power plant in Goldsboro, NC.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/dukeenergy/11441208065/

NC WARN, a progressive environmental non-profit, is teaming up with an unlikely partner: the John Locke Foundation. The two organizations share a desire to increase competition in the power industry and challenge Duke Energy's monopoly on electricity in the state.  
A dry field of crops
http://www.flickr.com/photos/usdagov/12309025826/

Earlier this month, Raleigh was selected to host one of seven climate change research hubs in the nation. The hubs will prepare farmers to cope with  the effects of climate change on their land. 

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