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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).

 

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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).  
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A wrench was thrown into the Duke and Progress Energy merger on Friday by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) which must approve the companies joining together before it can be finalized.  The federal agency wants to hear from the utilities about how they will address “already excessive levels of market concentration.”

This wrench is a huge opportunity for consumers, the renewable energy business and its advocates.  Those concerned about the merger should take full advantage of the uncertain moment and press for changes that will not only look after consumers but also advance energy efficiency and renewable energy to do our part to combat global warming. Read More