Environmentally Speaking

The term “energy” is normally associated with big power plants and turbines pumping electricity to our homes. But that’s not the case everywhere. At the Jackson County Green Energy Park in Dillsboro, North Carolina, energy is turned into art. Jackson County Green Energy Park is unique because it gets its energy from an unlikely source: landfill gas, which is given off when organic materials decompose in landfills. The gas is a natural byproduct of decomposition, and it is approximately 50 percent methane and 50 percent carbon dioxide, with a small percentage of other gases.

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At this year’s Environmental Stewardship Initiative (ESI) Conference, DEQ Secretary Michael Regan had one message: we’re all environmentalists. From business leaders to students to ESI stewards, environmentalists see that environmental stewardship and economic development go hand-in-hand. “I believe in our shared mission,” said Secretary Regan. “One that suggests we are a network of neighbors, friends, problem-solvers, community and business leaders who see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change.”

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Started in 2002, the Environmental Stewardship Initiative (ESI) has been a long-standing resource for many North Carolina companies looking to reduce their environmental impacts. “The ESI is a voluntary program with 197 member sites that was established to stimulate the development and implementation of programs that use pollution prevention and innovative approaches to meet and exceed regulatory requirements,” said ESI Manager Angela Barger. This is especially true for DENSO Manufacturing North Carolina, ESI’s first 15-year Steward, which is the highest level of achievement in the program.

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Last month, staff from the Division of Mitigation Services participated in the National Mitigation Banking Conference in Minneapolis where topics of conversation included North Carolina’s in-lieu fee program and utilizing technology for environmental monitoring. Those topics and the work of the division are critical to the protection of North Carolina’s environment. North Carolina is one of the fastest growing states in the country and when streams and wetlands are impacted during the course of development, compensatory mitigation is a means of offsetting the impact.

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Last month, Governor Cooper visited Navassa, a community with a long history of industrial pollution, to announce the redevelopment of a former boat factory site into a manufacturing operation that will bring an economic boost to the area with no environmental risk. Pacon Manufacturing Corp., a New Jersey-based company that manufactures pads, wipes, towels and liquids for consumer, industrial and medical use, expects to bring nearly 300 new jobs and more than $37 million in economic investment to Brunswick County.

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April 29th through May 3rd is Air Quality Awareness Week and here in North Carolina, it’s the perfect time to get outside and enjoy the spring weather and our state’s many incredible natural resources.  It’s also a great time to think about our air quality and the actions we can take to keep our air clean.  

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Last week, Division of Mitigation Services Director Tim Baumgartner participated in a panel at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. where he discussed North Carolina’s nationally renowned in-lieu fee program’s procurement system for stream and wetlands restoration. The conference was hosted by the Environmental Restoration Business Association, and in the hallways of the press club and at a reception on Capitol Hill, North Carolina was a hot topic of discussion.

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DEQ Secretary Regan was at Fort Caswell on Wednesday to congratulate Tara Whicker for completing the department’s Environmental Education Certification Program and to learn more about Caswell’s educational programming. Whicker is the coastal education assistant coordinator with the Environmental Stewardship Program at Fort Caswell. She helps facilitate field trips and teach K-12 students about coastal ecology and marine biology in a non-formal, outdoor setting.

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