DENR Refuses Federal Water Quality Grants

WUNC, North Carolina Public Radio, covered the story of the state's environmental agency rejecting federal grants to do baseline water testing in the state's triassic basin area. From the report: North Carolina environmental officials have said "no" to a federal grant to check water quality in areas where fracking may occur. The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources says the money from the EPA would only pay for salaries of people brought in to do testing.

Release: Baseline Water Testing No Longer In Department’s Mission, DENR Official States

As highlighted in today’s Coastal Review article “State Declines $600k in Federal Grants”, the McCrory administration’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources has turned down two 2013 grants for which it applied, and which were awarded to the state by US EPA. The grants, totaling nearly $600,000, were selected for approval in a competitive application process. The EPA grant program is intended to build the capacity of state agency to effectively address water quality challenges. “This is exactly the time that our state would benefit from the science and research that the grants are intended to support,” said Molly Diggins, state director of the NC Sierra Club. “The McCrory administration has walked away from funding that would help the state to make sound decisions about fracking and water quality.”
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State Declines $600K in Federal Grants

Frank Tursi of the NC Coastal Federation broke the story on Monday Morning that the McCrory administration’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources has turned down two 2013 grants for which it applied, and which were awarded to the state by US EPA. The grants, totaling nearly $600,000, were selected for approval in a competitive application process.  The EPA grant program is intended to build the capacity of state agency to effectively address water quality challenges.


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A hanging ax over NC air and water regulators

Published: September 3, 2013 - An Editorial from the Raleigh News & Observer Gov. Pat McCrory signaled early on with his now-famous “seat warmers” line about state employees that he planned to get tough on underpaid, often-overworked state workers. Now it appears he’s ready to take on those who do their jobs too well. And if environmental regulators are out of their seats too much, they may find themselves out of their jobs as well. What a transparent exercise in the abuse of power is McCrory’s use of authority granted him by Republicans in the General Assembly to make more state workers “at will” employees. That means they will not have civil service protections against being unjustly fired. This is nothing more than manipulation of the people’s government for the political aggrandizement of the governor and his political cronies. It is quite the strange move from a governor who campaigned against the government he said was corrupted by politics. The governor’s office argues that the governor needs this change to make sure employees are on board with his mission so that he can shape his agenda. Uh, huh. Anyone want to price a bridge in Brooklyn? What’s really going on is evidenced by the fact that, in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the number of at-will jobs is expanding from 24 to 167. DENR has long been a favorite target of Republicans who would like to gut most environmental regulations so business, specifically developers, can do as they wish with coastal property or with other big projects that now have to pass permit muster and comply with 22oversight. Republican lawmakers have tried to legislate regulators right out of their jobs.
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Officials OK rule to force fracking on NC landowners

By John Murawski — RALEIGH — North Carolina landowners would be forced to sell the natural gas under their homes and farms – whether they want to or not – under a fracking recommendation approved Wednesday that’s expected to be enacted by the state legislature this fall. The proposal by a state study group endorses a rarely used 1945 law that’s never been tried here on the kind of scale that would be required for shale gas exploration, or fracking. Thousands of property owners could potentially be affected in the state’s gas-rich midsection in Lee, Moore and Chatham counties. The recommendation, dealing with one of the most emotional fracking issues, bypasses the N.C. Mining and Energy Commission, which holds regular public hearings on protecting the public and safeguarding the environment, and goes to the legislature. “We are talking about a for-profit industry taking away personal freedoms with the blessing of the government,” Therese Vick, a community activist with the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, told the Compulsory Pooling Study Group. “Personal freedoms are seldom on the radar when the gas companies come to town.” The panel does include four members of the Mining and Energy Commission, some of whom were deeply conflicted.

Gov. McCrory Declares June Solar Energy Month!

RALEIGH, NC - The NC Sierra Club today joined Governor McCrory in celebrating June as Solar Energy Month. “North Carolina has become a clean energy leader in the Southeast,” said Molly Diggins, state director of the North Carolina Sierra Club. “With leadership and supportive policies, our state is poised to become a national leader.” To coincide with Governor McCrory’s announcement, the NC Sierra Club has launched a campaign to encourage North Carolina to become a national leader in clean energy. The ‘First In Solar’ campaign will run the course of the month, and engage North Carolinians through events, solar installation tours, and social media outreach.
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NC Sierra Club Statement on the NC Senate Passage of Dorothea Dix Lease Bill

Molly Diggins, state director of the North Carolina Sierra Club, issued the following statement: “We are disappointed that the Senate today voted to condemn a valid contract between the City of Raleigh and the State that was entered into only months ago and would have created a destination park in Raleigh for all North Carolinians to enjoy.” “With today’s vote, the Senate has thrown away an unique opportunity for the economic and cultural benefit of all residents of our state. Once again, we are counting on the House to employ due diligence and more deliberately attend to the best interests of all North Carolinians.”
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Senator opposing Dix lease pushed $1 sale of NC prison

RALEIGH — In touting his bill to revoke Raleigh’s lease on the Dorothea Dix property, Sen. Ralph Hise argues that the deal was too cheap and the capital city needs to pay fair market value for its park. It’s not the first time Hise, a Republican from Mitchell County, has weighed in on a state property transfer. In 2011, he was the sole sponsor of a bill that sold a shuttered state prison in his western mountains district to Mayland Community College. The total price for the property – valued on Avery County tax rolls at $2.01 million – was $1. The Dix lease calls for Raleigh to pay $500,000 a year, plus 1.5 percent annual increases, in a deal worth $68 million over 75 years. “I wish I had known that I could have my own prison for the cost of a pack of gum,” quipped Raleigh City Councilman Bonner Gaylord, who’s among those blasting Hise for inconsistency.

Support growing clean-energy sector

Editorial - Asheville Citizen-Times - If the N.C. General Assembly wants to establish itself as the most business unfriendly, anti-jobs and anti-growth legislature in the nation and in the history of this state, it will pass the recently filed bill oxymoronically titled the Affordable and Reliable Energy Act. It is anything but. It might better be titled the “Job Killing, Anti-Growth and Keep NC Dependent on Arab Oil Act.” North Carolina’s very successful renewable energy standard isn’t some wacky radical conspiracy. It is a cost-effective, job-building, energy-independence program that is working and has broad support, particularly from those in the energy producing-sector, most notably Duke Energy. In fact, in 2011, when the N.C. Energy Policy Council approved its unanimous recommendation to the General Assembly, it was George Everett of Duke Energy who made the motion that the council make clear that continued support of the standard was critical to the state’s energy sector and economic development.
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Editorial: Is fracking worth the cost?

EDITORIAL - We have about two years before any fracking is expected to begin here in North Carolina, and hopefully, in that time, we'll get a critical mass of people in Raleigh willing to take a more serious look at this controversial process before we rush ahead. Our state's natural beauty is a great resource, a tourist draw and an economic boon all its own; we don't need to mess it up for a few dollars more for just a few short years.
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