• EPA sued over rule extending life of toxic coal ash ponds

    By: Rebecca Beitsch, The Hill November 24, 2020 A coalition of nine environmental groups is suing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over a rule that extends the life of giant pits of toxic coal sludge, risking contamination of nearby water sources. The July rule allows for the more than 400 coal ash pits across the nation, where coal residue is mixed with liquid and stored in open-air, often unlined ponds, to stay open as late as 2038. “Right now toxic chemicals are poisoning water across the country because of dirty coal plants. The Trump administration acted illegally when it gave coal plants many…


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  • Could defeat in nuisance lawsuits herald a reckoning for the NC hog industry?

    By: Lisa Sorg, NC Policy Watch November 24, 2020 In an extraordinary concurring opinion, a Reagan-appointed judge offers searing indictment of industrialized hog farming  Shortly after Smithfield Foods lost its third consecutive hog nuisance case in federal court, company CEO Ken Sullivan wrote a letter. In it, Sullivan reassured the company’s employees and contract growers that while Smithfield faced tens of millions of dollars in damages to neighbors of the offending farms, as well as untold legal fees, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals would bend the arc of justice back their way. “Since the early stages of these cases, we’ve believed North…


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  • Equitrans reports increased cost estimate, delayed in-service date for Mountain Valley Pipeline

    By Debra Flax, Pennsylvania Business Report November 5, 2020 Equitrans Midstream Corporation (ETRN) said this week that the cost estimate of the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) is now between $5.8 billion and $6 billion and the project’s full in-service date is anticipated during the second half of 2021. MVP is a proposed underground, interstate natural gas pipeline system, expected to span roughly 303 miles from northwestern West Virginia to Southern Virginia and designed to transport clean-burning natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica shale regions. MVP is a joint venture of ETRN, NextEra Capital Holdings, Inc., ConEdison Transmission, Inc., WGL Midstream, Inc., and…


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  • Controversial plan would bring waste processing facilities to struggling southern NC community

    By Lisa Sorg, NC Policy Watch October 22, 2020 Company proposes to process old railroad ties in low-income Richmond County locale already burdened by pollution This story has been corrected to show that only one plant will be built. The second application has been withdrawn. An industrial plant that would “cook” creosote-treated railroad ties and release tons of harmful air emissions are proposed for a predominantly low-income neighborhood near Hamlet, an area already burdened by pollution. The facility International Tie Disposal, is owned by a railroad infrastructure company, Polivka International, based near Charlotte. The plants would produce biochar, a shredded material…


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  • Fracking Fiasco: The Banks That Fueled the U.S. Shale Bust

    Published by Oil Change International and Rainforest Action Network. September 2020 DOWNLOAD THE REPORT A new report by Oil Change International and Rainforest Action Network (RAN) shows how major banks have continued pouring money into fracking companies in recent years, despite numerous warnings that the sector has been financially unsustainable, in addition to the well-documented environmental, health, and climate impacts of the shale industry. This analysis compiles data from 51 U.S. fracking-focused companies, receiving USD 224 billion in financing since the adoption of the Paris Agreement. (January 2016 — August 2020). Nearly 40% of that financing came from JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo alone,…


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  • Proposed new poultry farm in Chatham County: 750,000 birds, taxpayer-funded — and lots of secrets

    By: Lisa Sorg, NC Policy Watch September 28, 2020 Although not the farmer, Sen. Tom McInnis of Richmond County owns the land A proposed poultry farm near Goldston in Chatham County could raise nearly 750,000 birds each year near an important waterway, yet many of the details are secret even though taxpayer funds are bankrolling much of the construction and it’s being built on a state senator’s property, a Policy Watch investigation has found. The USDA’s Farm Service Agency is in charge of the loan. The amount is not specified in public documents, but federal policy caps guaranteed operating loans at…


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  • “No One Knows Where This Came From”—Trump Bans Offshore Drilling

    By: Zoya Teirstein, Mother Jones September 13, 2020 Something weird happened at a Trump campaign appearance in Jupiter, Florida, on Tuesday. President Trump—long-time antagonist of environmental regulations and big-time proponent of oil and gas development—announced a decade-long ban on offshore drilling off the coasts of Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. “This protects your beautiful Gulf and your beautiful ocean, and it will for a long time to come,” Trump said in a speech in Jupiter touting his environmental record. He signed a presidential memorandum extending a moratorium on leasing drilling rights off Florida’s Gulf Coast and expanded that ban to a portion of…


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  • Rural cities and towns struggle to pay for water systems during the pandemic

    By: Kevin Griffin, Hickory Daily Record | N.C. News Collaborative August 7, 2020 This spring, Tyrrell County, with the smallest population in the state, came within 24 hours of defaulting on a bond issued to build one of its water plants. The state stepped in and helped make the payment, but county leaders don’t know how they will make the next one. The county’s biggest water customer, a state prison, closed last fall. Tyrrell County is one of dozens of small, rural governments managing utility systems teetering on bankruptcy. The cost of running an aging water system or paying vendors for…


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  • Are Drinking Water Suppliers Communicating Well with Spanish Speaking Communities?

    READ THE NEW REPORT! North Carolina is home to over 1 million Hispanic or LatinX inhabitants. While it would be incorrect to assume this entire population only speaks Spanish, our findings during our Mobile Home Park drinking water canvas last summer proved that many residents across the state may not be receiving critical health and service information about their drinking water except in English. The US EPA  characterizes a public water system (PWS) as one that “provides water for human consumption through pipes or other constructed conveyances to at least 15…


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  • Amanda Strawderman: Completing Census could help fight pollution in NC

    By: Amanda Strawderman, Opinion Editorial in Fayetteville Observer August 20, 2020 Too many communities across the country are faced with living in unhealthy environments due to pollution related to drinking water and air quality. Environmental Justice (EJ) is the reality, backed by statistics, that polluting industries have historically targeted areas of low-income, or communities of color. The federal Environmental Protection Agency created a tool known as the EJ Screen with the purpose of identifying disproportionate impacts of pollution to such communities throughout the country. Grassroots leaders, environmental advocates and the public should be able use this tool to help prevent permits that…


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