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coal_ash-1An editorial in this morning’s Charlotte Observer rightfully calls for action from Duke Energy to make sure that there are no more disasters like the one impacting the Dan River:

“At Dan River, the unexpected was not only a break in a half-century old pipe that runs beneath the pond, but a discovery that sections of the pipe were made of corrugated metal, not the heavier reinforced concrete that Duke thought. At Riverbend, which has no such pipe, the unexpected could be catastrophic weather or the rupture of a containment berm, which is what happened in 2010 to a coal ash basin near Duke’s Sutton Steam plant near Wilmington.”

What can Duke do? Clean the unlined ponds. Recycle the coal ash or move it to dry, lined landfills. That’s what two South Carolina utilities have agreed to do in settling a lawsuit with the Southern Environmental Law Center, Catawba Riverkeeper and other groups. Yes, moving the coal ash is more expensive than leaving it where it is, but it’s nowhere near the legal and financial cost of a coal ash failure that contaminates a water supply.

The paper might’ve added that Duke, a company that is the biggest utility in the country, makes billions each year in profits and supposedly exists to serve the public interest, should also move as expeditiously as possible to end its use of coal. Period. That would, of course, be the best way to solve the coal ash problem.

Read the entire editorial by clicking here.

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2014/02/05/4666116/getting-ahead-of-the-next-coal.html#.UvN4JrQjpn9#storylink=cpy

Phil BergerMaybe it’s just life in our new and hyper-gerrymandered era in which a huge proportion of legislative seats are election-proof, but the age-old political aphorism that “all politics is local” does not appear to apply to some politicians. Take for instance, the man who is arguably North Carolina’s most powerful politician, State Senator Phil Berger.

A little over 48 hours ago, there was giant environmental disaster in the Senator’s hometown of Eden in Rockingham County when a pipe burst and 82,000 tons of coal ash (enough to fill 32 Olympic-size swimming pools) was released into the Dan River. The spill is making national headlines and Catawba Riverkeeper is tweeting pictures here.

In most parts of the world, you’d think that such disaster might send local elected officials into some sort of full-time emergency damage-mitigation mode. By all indications, however, that’s not the case in Eden. Read More

Coal smokestackAmericans have long fretted (and with good reason) over the country’s costly and destructive addiction to oil produced in the Middle East and other troubled regions. A new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists, however, demonstrates that North Carolina has its own closer-to-home fossil fuel addiction problem.

As Public News Service reports this morning:

“North Carolina power producers – primarily Duke Energy – spent $1.8 billion to import coal from other states in 2012 alone. A report released Tuesday by the Union of Concerned Scientists highlights that cost and the benefits of alternative energy sources such as wind and solar….According to the report, the amount of coal imported into North Carolina decreased by 36 percent from 2008 to 2012, but its cost has increased to more than $93 a ton – one of the highest prices in the nation. The report, called ‘Burning Coal, Burning Cash,’ ranks North Carolina second in the country in terms of its dependence on imported coal.”

You can read the UCS study by clicking here.
(Photo: Union of Concerned Scientists).

 

Beau Rivage resortWell, with thousands of North Carolinians out of work and/or income due to the Tea Party’s hostage taking in Washington, it’s good to know that North Carolina’s governor is right where he needs to be during the crisis…uh, that would be cavorting with oil and coal company execs and lobbyists at a swanky casino in Mississippi.

No, we’re not making this up; a day after throwing some chump change at the suddenly destitute with his state budget director and DHHS Secretary, the Guv (according to a press release from his office) boarded a plane and winged his way to the “Governor’s (sic) Forum on Outer Continental Shelf Energy Development” at the “53rd Annual Meeting of Southern States Energy Board.”

The Southern States Energy Board — read more by clicking here — is an energy industry-dominated group of southern politicians that, as best as can be determined, exists to promote fossil fuel development.  Click here the agenda for the meeting.

And this year’s big get-together? Well it’s being held at the lovely Beau Rivage Resort and Casino along the Mississippi gulf shore. Read More

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Thanks to Steve Harrison at Blue NC this morning for highlighting and critiquing a pair of dueling essays in yesterday’s Charlotte Observer on the sobering subject of coal ash (the waste that results from burning coal and, in part, from “scrubbing” the exhaust so that we keep the air a smidge cleaner).  

The bottom line takeaway: The innumerable problems with coal ash are just another reminder of why we are kidding ourselves if we pretend that coal is a viable long-term solution to the world’s energy challenge.

(Photo courtesy of the Southern Environmental Law Center).