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Lisa Finaldi is the former National Campaigns Director for Greenpeace US.

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According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 2011 set a record for the number of billion dollar disasters in a single year in the US – 12 – topping nine events in 2009. Two of those were in our state – Hurricane Irene and the April tornadoes, placing NC fourth for 2011. The 12 events, which included extreme drought, wildfires, floods, heat waves, winter storms, tornadoes and hurricanes, caused more than 1,000 deaths and 8,000 injuries.

In a recent online video, National Weather Service Director Jack Hayes said, “In my weather career spanning four decades, I’ve never seen a year quite like 2011… Extreme weather and associated societal impacts have increased in recent years with our changing climate and the nation must be prepared for more frequent extreme weather in the future.”

While every natural disaster cannot be linked to global warming, a warming climate provides more fuel for extreme events. Yet even in the face of 2011’s extreme weather, Republicans and Democrats alike drag their feet to create policies to curb global warming.

Here are some policy and regulatory debates to watch this year. Together these will have short and long term impacts on global warming and the nation’s energy policy. The only question is whether our elected officials will help or hinder our need to move to a clean energy economy. Read More

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On Sunday, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported its investigation of how Chesapeake Energy has been feverishly working in West Virginia to maximize its ability to drill for natural gas in shale deposits, using business methods that can only be labelled greedy with total disregard for the communities in which the company is operating. Read More

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Here’s a recent opinion piece in the Washington Post from Nancy Welsh, founder of Builders of Hope, about addressing the affordable housing crisis in the country. Builders of Hope is based in Raleigh and works in Charlotte, New Orleans and Dallas.  Tearing down foreclosed homes has begun in several parts of the country.  Builders of Hope makes a solid case for why this is a ridiculous and unnecessary strategy to rebuild the economy.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/on-innovations/recycle-homes-to-fix-americas-housing-crisis/2011/12/05/gIQA3wiSZO_story.html

 

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Charlotte welcomed another Fortune 500 company recently as Governor Perdue and Chiquita CEO Fernando Aguirre announced the HQ is leaving Cincinnati for the sunny south. Chiquita is now the eighth Fortune 500 HQ located in Charlotte– such as Bank of America and Duke Energy. Charlotte is becoming home to some of the worst corporate actors in America. Read More

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Monday November 28th is the final of five hearings of the NC Utilities Commission (NCUC) on the request by Duke Power to raise its electricity rates. Between this request, the proposed merger of Progress and Duke and the companies’ dirty energy portfolios, electricity rates for North Carolinians may soon soar. Your voice is needed to stop the rate hikes which in turn can cause Duke to increase efficiency and renewables in its energy mix. Read More