Environment

supermoon illustration
NASA illustration

Look skyward overnight Sunday and early Monday and you're in for a treat: A brighter, larger full moon than usual. It's called a supermoon, and this one's especially super.

The ballot in Mecklenburg County this fall lists five pages of races, from president on down. At the very bottom is a race few know much about: Soil & Water Conservation District supervisor. It's unusually competitive this year.

A 50-foot section of a cooling pond dam broke at Duke Energy's plant on the Neuse River in Goldsboro. The company says coal ash ponds are not in danger.
Travis Graves / Lower Neuse Riverkeeper

Forty-eight counties have seen flooding from Hurricane Matthew, and waters are still rising in some areas. State officials are watching dams, checking reports of chemical and fuel spills, and starting to count crop and livestock losses.

Duke Energy electric pickup
David Boraks / WFAE

Thinking about getting rid of that gas-guzzler in your driveway? A lunch-hour display of electric vehicles at Charlotte Mecklenburg Government Center Monday offered options - from small utility vehicles to luxury Teslas.

  One  of the world's largest investment funds is selling all its Duke Energy bonds and shares. The government of Norway's pension fund has been a major Duke investor. But lately it's been divesting from companies that make money by mining or burning coal.

 A geologist with decades of expertise in climate change and coastal erosion has resigned from the state science advisory panel he helped found. Stan Riggs says politics have made the panel "ineffective."

N.C. Department of Environmental Quality


  Follow-up tests last week found no arsenic in Mountain Island Lake, according to a report from the state Department of Environmental Quality.  

Tests last month had found arsenic at nearly 10 times federal limits, near where Duke Energy was draining water from coal ash ponds at the Riverbend plant in Mount Holly.  

Trucks move coal ash at Duke's Marshall Steam Station on Lake Norman. The company plans to cover ash in place at the plant.
David Boraks / WFAE

Time may be running out for North Carolina lawmakers to reach a compromise on how to update the state's coal ash cleanup law. That's according to the chief sponsor of a bill that Gov. Pat McCrory vetoed last week.

File photo. / WFAE

Budgets are supposed to be focused on taxes and spending. But the North Carolina Senate has a reputation for sliding major policy changes into its spending plan. This year is no exception. It contains a plan for a major overhaul to a key water quality regulation. 

The state House and Senate on Tuesday both approved a revised bill that would update the 2014 law governing coal ash cleanups at Duke Energy's North Carolina plants. That sets up a battle with Gov. Pat McCrory, who calls the bill unnecessary and irresponsible and vows a veto. 

Coal ash belmont
Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation

Neighbors of Duke Energy's coal ash ponds in Gaston and Rowan counties say they like Duke's proposal this week to provide safe, permanent water supplies. But they also worry it could mean they’ll have to continue to live with coal ash.

The Conservation Fund and private donors have assembled about 2,700 acres of land north and west of Mount Mitchell that will become part of the park. Here's a springtime view from Mount Mitchell.
David Boraks / WFAE

A Hairy Woodpecker tap-tap-taps on a pine tree just below the summit of Mount Mitchell. It’s a sunny spring day. It’s 46 degrees - about 10 degrees cooler than nearby Burnsville.

With the park now open after winter, superintendent Bryan Wilder says visitors are flocking here.  

David Boraks / WFAE

CMS has hired a Charlotte company to do environmental tests around Hopewell High School in Huntersville. The testing comes as families and local officials puzzle over a large number of cases of eye cancer in recent years.

David Boraks / WFAE

  More than 150 people showed up at a hearing in Hickory Tuesday night to express concern about the 30 million tons of coal ash stored at Duke Energy’s Marshall Steam Station, on Lake Norman. Thirty-two speakers quoted biblical passages, read poetry and urged state regulators to require Duke to transfer the ash to new, lined landfills, away from the lake.    

NC Department of Environmental Quality

Public hearings begin this week on proposed rules and deadlines for closing Duke Energy’s North Carolina coal ash sites. The rules are important because they’ll set deadlines for cleanups and determine whether Duke gets to cap the ash in place, or must move it to more secure locations.

Carolina Waterfowl Rescue

The City of Charlotte has fined owners of the NASCAR Plaza building in uptown Charlotte for a November fuel spill that killed and injured wildlife in nearby Little Sugar Creek. City officials say cleanup costs for building owner Parkway Properties totaled about $83,000 - including a $4,200 fine.

Catawba Lands Conservancy

Congress last week approved a bill that makes tax incentives permanent for agreements that conserve land and preserve open space. Lands conservancies are calling it the most important legislation in decades for their movement.
 
Since 2006, landowners have been allowed to take tax deductions for donating land or granting conservation easements - promises not develop their land. That’s been an incentive for property owners to work with local lands conservancies, the non-profit groups that manage conservation deals.
 

Carolina Waterfowl Rescue

Workers have mostly contained a 1,000-gallon diesel spill from an uptown office building into Little Sugar Creek last week. The spill affected birds and turtles along the waterway, and county officials say they’re studying whether to issue a fine.

Mary Newsom

This weekend there were a couple of walks held in Charlotte to help residents pay attention to a particular part of their neighborhoods.  WFAE’s Sarah Delia checked out one of the walks that aimed to teach and show what exactly lives in our creeks. 


NC Office of State Budget and Management

Governor Pat McCrory released his budget plan, his proposal for how the state should spend money for the next two years. It distributes more than $45 billion from the state’s general fund, or more than $100 billion when including all the other fees, federal dollars, and various revenue streams the state uses to fund services. The final budget may look quite a bit different once state lawmakers are through, but this proposal is where the debate begins. 

Taxes

Pages