• 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 The second application has been withdrawn.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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  • 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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  • EPA rule extends life of toxic coal ash ponds

    By Rebecca Beitsch, The Hill July 30, 2020 The Trump administration is extending the life of giant pits of toxic coal sludge, a move critics say further risks contamination of nearby water sources. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) late Wednesday announced it had finalized a new regulation 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. “Today’s action makes changes to the closure regulations for coal ash storage that enhance protections for public health while giving electric utilities enough time to retrofit or replace unlined impoundment…


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  • Along now-defunct Atlantic Coast Pipeline route, landowners are left in the lurch

    By: Lisa Sorg, NC Policy Watch July 30, 2020 Environmental destruction, property entanglements will take years to address In November 2018, freelance photographer and videographer Charlie Sarratt shot drone footage of the ACP construction in Cumberland County. You can view it here, courtesy of Donovan McLaurin. Behind a black wooden farm gate, near Wade in Cumberland County, used to lie a meadow. Serene, tree-lined, it was a spot of utopia where Donovan McLaurin had planned to build a small house for himself. Instead, the land has been defaced. Hills of dirt two stories tall are splayed to reveal a rugged gash in the earth. This is…


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  • 21 state attorneys general sue over new Trump water rule

    By: Don Thompson, Associated Press July 21, 2020 Attorneys general in 20 states and the District of Columbia sued the Trump administration on Tuesday, alleging that new federal rules undermine their ability to protect rivers, lakes and streams within their borders. They say that new final rules issued last week by the Environmental Protection Agency alter a practice dating back more than 30 years giving state governments the authority to review, block or put conditions on federally permitted water projects. President Donald Trump in April 2019 issued an executive order directing the change that critics said could make it…


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  • Belinda Joyner Is Tired of Fighting the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, But She’s Still Fighting

    By: Lewis Kendall, IndyWeek July 1, 2020 “We are tired of being dumped on.” In February, Belinda Joyner caught a ride to the U.S. Supreme Court. Alongside a couple of close friends, the 67-year-old rode from her home in Garysburg, a 1,000-person town near the North Carolina-Virginia border, up to Washington, D.C. They were there to watch the court hear arguments over whether the U.S. Forest Service should be allowed to issue permits for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to be built through national forest lands connected to the Appalachian Trail. The 600-mile, $8 billion pipeline—spearheaded by Dominion Energy and Duke Energy and first…


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