• The Oil and Gas Industry Produces Radioactive Waste. Lots of It

    By: Justin Nobel, The Rolling StoneJuly 21, 2021 Massive amounts of radioactive waste brought to the surface by oil and gas wells have overwhelmed the industry and the state and federal agencies that regulate it, according to a report released today by the prominent environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council. The waste poses “significant health threats,” including the increased risk of cancer to oil and gas workers and their families and also nearby communities. “We know that the waste has radioactive elements, we know that it can have very…


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  • Major energy bill coming to NC House floor as lawmakers struggle to grasp impact

    By: Travis Fain, WRAL statehouse reporter July 13, 2021 RALEIGH, N.C. — Energy legislation laying out close to a decade’s worth of policy and setting up a glide path to retire coal-fired electricity plants in North Carolina will likely be up for key vote in the coming days. Lawmakers are struggling to understand House Bill 951, a lengthy, complex bill negotiated over months. The bill delivers a number of regulatory changes that Duke Energy, the state’s largest power provider by far, has wanted for years. It would also dial back – years earlier than planned – on coal-burning plants in North…


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  • EPA recommends that Army Corps of Engineers not grant Mountain Valley Pipeline stream crossing permit

    By: Sarah Vogelsong, Virginia Mercury and Lisa Sorg, NC Policy Watch July 9, 2021 The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has recommended that the Army Corps of Engineers not grant Mountain Valley Pipeline a critical permit to cross several hundred streams in Virginia and West Virginia. “EPA has identified a number of substantial concerns with the project as currently proposed, including whether all feasible avoidance and minimization measures have been undertaken, deficient characterization of the aquatic resources to be impacted, insufficient assessment of secondary and cumulative impacts and potential for significant degradation, and the proposed mitigation,” EPA Wetlands Branch Chief Jeffrey Lapp wrote…


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  • Major energy bill emerges at NC statehouse

    By: Travis Fain, WRAL June 17, 2021 RALEIGH, N.C. — State lawmakers released a long-anticipated energy bill Tuesday, saying it would retire coal-fired power plants faster, cut greenhouse gas emissions and shape North Carolina energy policy for the better part of a decade. The bill came together over months of closed-door negotiations with Duke Energy, other electricity providers, the solar power industry and large electricity users, such as manufacturers and retailers. The 47-page bill is complex, wide-ranging and may morph as it begins the public stage of its legislative journey. Environmental groups and others cut out of the crafting process thus far were digesting the…


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  • Two NC bills have different agendas for permits in environmental projects. Here’s what they would do.

    By: Kristen Johnson, The Fayetteville Observer May 13, 2021 Two bills in the North Carolina General Assembly have different agendas for the operation of environmental projects and their impacts on communities living next to them. One would make it easier for corporations to get permits needed to operate solid waste management systems, the other would make it tougher. In the Senate, the NC Farm Act of 2021 calls for a general permit for the installation and operation of biogas digester systems, which is favored by the pork industry but condemned by some community members. In the House, the Environmental Justice…


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  • DEQ denies MVP Southgate water quality permit — again

    By: Lisa Sorg, April 29 NC Policy Watch The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality has again denied a key water quality permit for the proposed MVP Southgate natural gas pipeline, dealing another setback to the controversial project that would run through Rockingham and Alamance counties. DEQ originally denied the water quality permit application last August. At the time Division of Water Resources Director Danny Smith wrote that because of “uncertainty surrounding the completion of the MVP Mainline project … work on the Southgate extension could lead to unnecessary water quality impacts and disturbance of the environment in North Carolina.” MVP appealed the DEQ’s denial…


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  • The great methane debate and what it could mean for North Carolina

    By: Lisa Sorg, NC Policy Watch April 21, 2021 Environmental advocates want stronger regulation of the potent greenhouse gas, but ag and energy interests are touting biogas More than 2,200 industrialized hog farms and another 200-plus dairy operations in North Carolina are constantly belching untold amounts of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas and driver of climate change, into the air. Yet because of the EPA’s inertia and the livestock industry’s significant political power, these farms have eluded any meaningful regulations of their methane emissions and their contribution to the climate crisis. More than two dozen environmental groups recently petitioned the EPA to regulate industrialized swine…


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  • At Earth Day climate summit, Biden promises 50% reduction in US greenhouse emissions

    By: Dierdre Shesgreen, USA Today April 22, 2021 WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden pledged to cut U.S. greenhouse gas pollution in half by 2030 at a virtual climate summit Thursday, outlining an aggressive target that would require sweeping changes to America’s energy and transportation sectors. “These steps will set America on a path of a net-zero emissions economy by no later than 2050,” Biden said as the White House opened the two-day summit, attended by 40 leaders from around the world. “Scientists tell us that this is the decisive decade, this is the decade…


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  • 7 million Californians live near oil and gas wells. This bill could change that.

    By: Alexandria Herr, Grist April 12, 2021 Despite its green reputation, California has a big fossil fuel problem on its hands: neighborhood oil and gas drilling. In California, there’s nothing preventing frackers or drillers from setting up shop right next to your home, school, or hospital — and indeed, this is the reality for 7.4 million Californians currently living within 1 mile of oil and gas drilling operations, who are disproportionately non-white and low-income. Now, a new state bill called S.B. 467, slated for a hearing in the California Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water on…


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  • Converting hog waste into energy: Not as neat and simple as it might sound

    By: Lisa Sorg, NC Policy Watch April 2, 2021 Public comment period ends Sunday on Optima TH’s air pollution permit for facility at Smithfield slaughterhouse  Optima TH has applied for a state air quality permit to operate a major biogas facility at Smithfield Fresh Meats in the Bladen County town of Tar Heel. If approved, Optima TH could emit 24,500 to 40,800 tons of greenhouse gases each year. Biogas, in the form of methane, would be collected from Smithfield’s wastewater treatment system, upgraded onsite at the Optima TH facility to meet natural gas standards, and then injected into a Piedmont Natural…


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