Ask your state Representative to vote NO on House Bill 630. Look them up by county here.
House Bill 630, the compromise the NC Senate struck with Governor McCrory’s office on coal ash, is a betrayal of the thousands of residents near Duke Energy’s coal fired power plants who called for full, swift cleanup of leaking coal ash dumps during fourteen public hearings in March and through written comments to the Dept. of Environmental Quality!
The Alliance of Carolinians Together Against Coal Ash calls for a real solution to coal ash. Tell your legislators they need to listen!
This bill protects Duke Energy’s interests and lets the company off the hook for having to excavate coal ash at its NC sites and move it to dry storage, as long as they make small repairs and provide alternative water to those nearby whose well water is contaminated. Clean water, while urgent for families, is not a substitute for eliminating the risk of leaky, unlined coal ash impoundments – neighbors are calling for both!
Don’t let Duke Energy get off the hook for a real solution, one where coal ash is stored above ground and completely isolated from ground and surface water, on Duke’s property, retrievable so ash can be accessible for re-use when safe technologies are available.
More information: what does the bill do?
- Requires DEQ to classify some impoundments as low risk, allowing them to be capped in place, and eliminating the previous criteria for classification, including: public health, environment and natural resources, groundwater contamination, surface water contamination, and the amount and characteristics of coal ash in the specific pit. This negates the comments of the thousands of people who demanded that their communities not be ranked low priority. The requirement that DEQ classify ponds as low risk if public water supply hookups are provided and dam repairs are made ties DEQ’s hands with respect to considering risks to the environment and natural resources.
- Gives Duke until Oct. 15, 2018 to provide drinking water (via water line or filtration device) to everyone with ½ mile of a coal ash pond except those across large bodies of water and provide water to those outside the ½ mile radius if modeling shows they may be impacted by contaminated groundwater. Even this does not guarantee that all impacted well users will be provided water – there is evidence that groundwater contamination can sometimes move under river beds, and independent reviews have shown that groundwater modeling by Duke’s contractors have serious flaws, and have failed to find links between coal ash sites and well water contamination.
- Fails to require concrete recycling at any new sites. Concrete recycling is an important cleanup option because it doesn’t require new landfills. Instead, this bill would allow Duke to simply recycle ash it is required to clean up anyway.
- Pushes DEQ’s final classification until November 15 2018–giving DEQ and Gov McCrory exactly what they asked for: more delay, no new cleanups.
- Gives DEQ expanded authority to grant variances and extensions to the deadlines above, creating further delay and no accountability for Duke Energy.
Clean Water for North Carolina is releasing a new short report – “Dangerous Neighbors: Gas Pipelines, Compressor Stations, and Environmental Injustice”. The U.S. is currently in the midst of an expansion of the natural gas infrastructure that has far outpaced the knowledge of impacts on people and the communities in which they live. With natural gas being touted as the “clean” bridge between coal and renewable energy, regulators and legislated incentives have cleared the way for fossil fuel corporations to profit from the expansion of natural gas infrastructure while communities bear the costs. Now that measures of those costs are becoming clearer, many are calling for the brakes to be applied. This report explores the risks and consequences of this expansion, and how they affect residents and communities.
Highlights of the report include:
- When pipelines and compressor stations and other gas infrastructure are built, they often deliver environmental injustice by changing the physical environment of communities and effectively removing community choice in defining the built environment or the types of energy in which they can invest.
- Living next to compressor stations is harmful to nearby residents’ health. Proximity to these facilities is associated with nosebleeds, rashes, headaches, and exposure to cancer-causing emissions. Especially along the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, and near the compressor station planned for Northampton County, we see potential for disproportionate impacts on vulnerable populations.
- Incidents of pipeline accidents have actually increased, reaching highs not seen since the pre-1940 constructed pipelines, perhaps due to the sheer speed of the expansion without adequate oversight.
- The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has essentially acted as a rubber stamp for pipeline approvals, showing no regard for environmental justice considerations.
- The new Atlantic Coast Pipeline being constructed by Dominion and Duke Energy is routed to go through 8 counties in North Carolina, most of which have higher than state average poverty levels, as well as high populations of African American or Indigenous residents, or both.
- Experts are warning that pipelines may quickly become stranded assets, as gas supply or demand dwindles, leaving customers on the hook in the form of higher rates.
- The expansion of natural gas infrastructure endangers communities worldwide, as we now know the release of methane into the atmosphere is significantly amplifying global warming. It is low income communities and communities of color who will suffer first, and most deeply.
Read the full report here.
Isaac Franklin Coleman, Jr. (1943-2016)
Clean Water for North Carolina staff and Board of Directors remember Isaac Coleman, who passed away earlier this month after a short battle with cancer, as a friend, admired fellow activist, and generous man who contributed enormously to guiding our organization during the 11 years he served on our Board of Directors.
In early 2005, we welcomed Isaac to our Board as a seasoned social justice and civil rights activist. Isaac’s interests in social and environmental justice issues began in his youth in Lexington, KY and stayed with him through his college years in Knoxville, TN and in his civil rights work in the 1960s with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee in Mississippi. Isaac moved to Asheville, NC in 1971 where he worked as a housing inspector for many years. It was here that Isaac became increasingly concerned with environmental issues, particularly lead contamination in city housing. He later worked part-time with UNC Asheville’s (now closed) Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, which was around the time he joined CWFNC’s Board.
Isaac (second from right) at CWFNC’s spring 2015 Board retreat.
Over the years, Isaac’s feedback on our programs and operation has been invaluable, always keeping us focused on the core of our mission as an environmental justice organization — and his presence at our events and meetings always brought laughter due to his unique sense of humor!
In our time together, we’ve had the privilege to learn about his family, his incredible history of activism, and the many projects he was involved with locally in Asheville and Buncombe County – including Read to Succeed, the reading program that was so dear to his heart. Isaac was one of the founders of Read to Succeed in 2009, and believed in the power of volunteer Reading Coaches to change the course of children’s lives by giving them opportunities.
At his memorial service, Isaac’s sisters shared that their parents had told them to “do something with your life.” Isaac certainly did, even though his ended too soon and he will be greatly missed. Please join us in honoring him by supporting or volunteering with one of the many causes he championed: Read to Succeed, Clean Water for NC, and Just Economics are just a few. Or just go out and make change in your own community; it’s what Isaac would have done!
Legislature to vote on revised Commissions Bill next Tues.
Implications for fracking, coal ash cleanup, water for impacted families:
Email your representative and senator today!
On May 25, the Commissions Bill – a revised version of Senate Bill 71 – passed the NC House with several changes. They included an amendment that we discovered contained 3 bad restrictions that could drastically reduce the number of households near coal ash sites who would qualify for water lines or filtration systems! Now, committed to improving that amendment, bill sponsor Chuck McGrady and a “conference committee” of House and Senate members are working on changes that will be released Monday. We’ll alert you to important changes.
Even if the changes allow most well users near coal ash sites to get safe replacement water, impacted communities still have several concerns with this bill – please contact your representative and senator by email or in their home office to share these concerns!
- It could allow future downranking of coal ash sites to “low priority,” letting Duke Energy take the cheap and easy route of capping coal ash in place. Capping in place is unacceptable; communities want both a source of safe drinking water AND full cleanup of coal ash.
- The new Coal Ash Management Commission might not be any more responsive to community needs, yet could cause big delays in the process. Communities have worked too hard to get the coal ash in their areas classified so that it would be cleaned up quickly and in a way that protects all communities, and shouldn’t have to go through additional comment periods when they’ve already told the state what they want!
- Disagreements between the Governor and the NC General Assembly could tie this up in court, giving Duke Energy even more time to kick the problem of coal ash down the road.
- This bill also re-establishes the Oil and Gas Commission, which would be at least as heavily tilted towards pro-fracking members as the last one. Also, there’s a provision that tries to overturn the injunction against fracking well permitting that a lawsuit by partner Haw River Assembly got last year!
Contact your representative and senator now. Remember that on the weekend, you should email them or call their LOCAL office. Thanks for taking action!