NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources


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.

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.

A Duke Energy power plant and coal ash ponds outside Asheville.
Zen Sutherland

The North Carolina Senate has passed a bill that would prohibit any state agency from fully complying with the EPA’s Clean Power Plan.

The Obama Administration announced the EPA Clean Power Plan earlier this week. It directs each state to develop an individualized plan to cut coal-plant emissions by 32 percent by 2030.

Duke Energy plant
Duke Energy

A few days after the General Assembly passed the Coal Ash Management Act last fall, Governor Pat McCrory recorded a video and made a claim many in his Republican party have since proudly repeated.

“This bill makes North Carolina the national leader in acknowledging and attacking the coal ash problem that has been building for more than half a century,” McCrory says in the video.

Acknowledging and attacking hasn’t, so far, led to any moving of coal ash. And as far as being a national leader, it’s actually one of our neighbors - South Carolina – that may lay a better claim, says Frank Holleman, an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center.

A Duke Energy power plant and coal ash ponds outside Asheville.
Zen Sutherland

Some residents who live near coal ash sites owned by Duke Energy are being told not to drink or cook with water that comes from their wells.

Eighty-seven of the 117 letters (pdf) sent by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources so far have indicated that well water exceeded state groundwater standards for some toxic heavy metals.

Dave DeWitt

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources is recommending that vehicle emission testing is no longer necessary in many North Carolina counties. 

The DENR report, ordered by the Legislature in 2013, says that emission testing of cars and trucks in as many as 31 counties could be eliminated by next year. 

sutton power plant
Duke Energy

The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources has fined Duke Energy more than $25 million over coal ash leaks at a retired power plant in Wilmington. 

According to DENR, it’s the largest environmental fine in the state’s history – five times higher than any previous fine. It is punishment for coal ash leaching into the ground water at the Sutton Power Plant over several years.

Contaminants included arsenic, selenium, and boron. 

Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker, Gov. Pat McCrory, and Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary John Skvarla
Jorge Valencia

There will be some key changes to Governor Pat McCory’s cabinet in the New Year. Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker is stepping down. And Environment Secretary John Skvarla will be the new head of the commerce department. The two positions are central to the governor's plan to attract businesses to North Carolina.

The governor feels very passionately about the members of his cabinet, or as he prefers to call it: his team. Yesterday, he was in front of a crowd in the historic chambers of the Old Capitol building, and beside him was Sharon Decker.

 A beach swimmer on the Carolina coast. Officials warn of strong rip tide currents.
Billy Hathorn, Creative Commons

State officials want to hear from the public as they review an upcoming seismic testing project off the coast of North Carolina. 

The National Science Foundation plans to survey the sea floor this fall near several Atlantic states.  Scientists say they want to know more about how our continental crust shifted and stretched. 

They will use up to 36 seismic air guns, which release highly pressurized blasts of air.  Environmentalists have said that will injure marine life and could disrupt migration patterns. 

North Carolina Air Pollution
Doug Bradley / Flickr


Stronger emission controls in North Carolina are closely associated with declining death rates from respiratory illnesses like asthma and emphysema, according to a Duke University study released this week.