Environmentally Speaking

There were tangled lines, plenty of pinfish and a whole lot of smiles at the annual Take a Kid Fishing outing Tuesday. About 1,100 children and chaperones came to the coast to fish for the day. Employees from the Divisions of Marine Fisheries and Coastal Management, along with their family and friends, helped bait hooks, cast lines and reel ‘em in.

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By Jenny Kelvington Clean, affordable energy protects our environment, allows our state to attract and maintain job-creating businesses, and is a vital part of North Carolina’s all-of-the-above energy strategy. At the July meeting of the Energy Policy Council, representatives from companies across the state joined a panel discussion about energy costs and sustainability efforts. Members of the panel agreed that clean, reliable and cost-efficient energy is important to their businesses.

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Algal blooms can be a common occurrence in North Carolina water bodies during summer months, when hot weather and extended sunlight cause algae populations to rapidly increase, or “bloom.” So far this year, staff with the state environmental department have observed algal blooms in areas such as Edenton Bay in Chowan County, Fontana Lake in Swain County, and Pamlico Sound in Beaufort County. You can find information about observed algal blooms on our website.

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If the air seems clearer in North Carolina these days, it’s not your imagination. Scenic views are better than ever in North Carolina, thanks to statewide improvements in air quality over the past two decades. Cleaner air is benefiting public health as well as the economy, with better visibility increasing views and enhancing visitor experiences.

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Secretary van der Vaart visited Edenton’s beautiful, historic lighthouse this week, which recently received a $125,000 grant from DEQ’s Public Beach and Coastal Waterfront Access program to build a ramp so that the lighthouse could be accessed by the public. Read about the Secretary’s visit in the Elizabeth City Daily Advance: http://www.dailyadvance.com/News/2016/07/20/N-C-environmental-chief-visi...

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A century-old textile mill in Winston-Salem is being transformed into loft apartments, thanks to collaboration between North Carolina entrepreneurs and Brownfields program staff with Governor Pat McCrory’s administration. Just six blocks from downtown Winston-Salem, Mill 800 opened for business in April and has since leased roughly half of the 170 available apartments. The $35 million project represents the most recent success story from the state Brownfields program, which enables the cleanup of previously contaminated property so it can be safely used again.

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In this video, Secretary Donald R. van der Vaart of the state environmental departments explains how the new coal ash law sets deadlines for providing well owners with water connections, requires dam repairs, and mandates the recycling of coal ash. Assistant Secretary Tom Reeder describes decades of neglect on coal ash and the action that has been taken since 2013. You can watch video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-BsbsVxWkP4&feature=youtu.be You can read the new coal ash law here: http://ncleg.net/Sessions/2015/Bills/House/PDF/H630v5.pdf

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Many state employees derive satisfaction knowing they serve to help others. But altruism takes on new meaning for public servants like Elizabeth Werner and Troy Harrison. When they’re not working for the state Division of Waste Management, there’s a good chance they’re volunteering their time to help someone else. “It makes me feel good,” says Werner, who works in Raleigh. “I just enjoy helping others.”

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