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Lunch links, with an environmental and coal ash focus

This week is continuing to be a busy one. For lunch links today, I’m going to hit you with some good reads on North Carolina-related news, to catch you up on what’s going on in the state.

First, the Dan River coal ash spill is still a major topic of interest in the state, with a federal criminal grand jury convening to examine the causes and repercussions of the environmental disaster as well as whether the relationship between N.C. Department  of Environmental Resources and  Duke Power, the national’s largest energy company, was too cozy.

Duke Energy Coal Ash Spill in North CarolinaThe company and its employees have long been among biggest campaign contributors to North Carolina politicians, both Democrats and Republicans and Gov. Pat McCrory worked for the company for nearly three decades.

Policy Watch’s own Sharon McCloskey has this post up late this morning about DENR trying to reinstate a $99,000 settlement fine in a state lawsuit it had proposed earlier, but then took off the table after the Dan River spill.

Poynter, a journalism website, highlighted the reporting Associated Press reporter Michael Biesecker and AP photojournalist Gerry Broome did from as a canoe as they paddled down the toxic ash-laden river days after the spill.

National Geographic ran this piece by a Greensboro-based writer about the economic impacts the spill may have on Rockingham County, an area of the state that turned to ecotourism in recent years to boost its economy after manufacturing jobs had left this and other North Carolina counties in droves.

We here at N.C. Policy Watch are hosting a luncheon in downtown Raleigh Thursday about the spill, featuring state Rep. Pricey Harrison, a Greensboro Democrat who has been beating the drum on the dangers of coal ash ponds for years, and Amy Adams of Appalachian Voices. Adams also has an insider view of regulation – she worked at DENR before taking on a position with the environmental group. Spots are $10 for a boxed lunch, click here to sign up (event starts at 11:45 a.m. at the N.C. Association of Educators building, 700 S. Salisbury St.).

Also DENR-related, the agency made a sudden move to re-enter the fray over a controversial water reservoir proposal in Cleveland County.

Click on this WRAL story to read more about the agency’s unusual stances in the politically-connected project.

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