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Some seats still remain for tomorrow’s NC Policy watch Crucial Conversation luncheon: Duke’s Dan River coal ash disaster: What happened? How big is the problem? What’s next?

Featuring Amy Adams of the group Appalachian Voices and State Rep. Pricey Harrison

When: Thursday, February 27 at 12 noon – Box lunches will be available at 11:45 a.m.

Where: *(NOTE—NEW LOCATION)* The North Carolina Association of Educators Building, 700 S. Salisbury St. in Raleigh. This location feature on-site parking.

Space is limited – pre-registration required.

Click here to register

Questions?? Contact Rob Schofield at 919-861-2065 or rob@ncpolicywatch.com

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Kay HaganAs part of announcing her candidacy for reelection yesterday, Senator Kay Hagan weighed in on the ongoing Duke Energy coal ash disaster that continues to unfold just a few miles down the road from her Greensboro home. You would have thought it would have been a moment on which the embattled Senator would have seized in order to pillory her Republican critics. Heck, it’s not that hard to envision a scenario in which she would have announced her campaign wearing waders in some Dan River muck!

Here’s what she said, instead, about the coal ash crisis as reported by WRAL.com:

“We’ve got to have oversight on the handling, the disposal and the storage of coal ash. When you think that just a broken pipe has caused this amount of leakage, and we know that we have 36 coal ash ponds in North Carolina, it is a serious issue, and we need to study it.”

I’m sorry, Senator. Did you say we need to study the matter? Study??!!

Earth to Kay Hagan: We know what to do about this problem. It’s already being done in South Carolina for Pete’s sake!  North Carolina doesn’t need more study; it needs immediate action and leadership from public officials who care more about the people and environment of the state than the big money campaign contributions of Duke Energy.

One would have thought that a veteran politician like Senator Hagan — someone who’s been in public office for 15 years — would have at least grasped the politics of the current situation (even if the science and policy matters escaped her). Unfortunately (and quite amazingly), this does not appear to be the case.

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Pat McCrory 4Northeast North Carolina’s paper of record, the Virginian-Pilot, is calling on federal investigators to ask Gov. McCrory directly what he knew, when he knew it and what he did about the Duke coal ash disaster:

“DENR Secretary John Skvarla briefed McCrory – who worked for Duke Energy for nearly 30 years and owns stock in the company – about those lawsuits.

Skvarla testified before lawmakers that McCrory told him two things: ‘He said protect the environment, and do the right thing.’

Instead, Skvarla negotiated a $99,111 settlement with the $50 billion company. Read More

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John SkvarlaIn recent days in the aftermath of the Duke Energy coal ash disaster, North Carolina DENR Secretary John Skvarla has taken to referring to environmental groups as “partners” of his agency in dealing with the coal ash problem. As we’ve reported on multiple occasions on this site, however, Skvarla has repeatedly used derogatory language to refer to environmental groups. Last year, he told the John Locke Foundation that we’d all be “wearing loincloths and living in lean-tos” if we followed the advice of environmental groups.

Last night, the Winston-Salem Journal reported additional examples of Skvarla speaking ill of his “partners”: Read More

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Representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency hold a community briefing in Eden this evening, providing residents with the latest information on water quality following the massive coal ash spill into the Dan River.

Tonight’s meeting comes just hours after John Skvarla, Secretary for the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) defended his agency’s handling of Duke Energy’s coal ash disaster.

Skvarla told reporters that environmentalists who have criticized the department in recent days don’t have all the facts:

“It had become very clear … their desired outcome was what I call one size fits all,” Skvarla said. “The only acceptable remedy was dig them up, move them to lined landfills and cover them. … I can assure you it’s not that simple.”

The hour-long press briefing did little to quiet the controversy. The U.S. Attorney in Raleigh is expanding its criminal investigation of the coal ash spill at Duke Energy’s Dan River plant to include spills at other company plants.

The North Carolina Conservation Network is urging legislators and the Governor to pass legislation this year that would bring an end to the unsafe storage of coal ash.

Grady McCallie with the Conservation Network joins us this week on News & Views with Chris Fitzsimon to discuss the the massive coal ash spill on the Dan River and DENR’s efforts to hold Duke Energy accountable. For a preview of their interview, click below:
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Tonight’s community briefing in Eden will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Eden City Hall Council Chambers, 308 E. Stadium Drive

There will also be a second community briefing for South Boston, VA on Thursday, February 20th from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Washington Coleman Community Center, 1927 Jeffress Blvd.