Environmentally Speaking

The Connect NC bond proposed by Governor McCrory and approved by North Carolina voters on Tuesday is a victory for small and medium-sized towns whose water and sewer systems are in critical need of repair and maintenance. The bond dedicates $309 million to improving the infrastructure that brings clean, reliable, and affordable water to North Carolina communities.

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Coastal North Carolina relies on tourism to support local economies and provide jobs. Many visitors to the coast come because of beautiful views, pristine water quality, local seafood, and opportunities to be on the water and view wildlife. In an effort to preserve the cultural heritage and natural resources on the Crystal Coast while maintaining N.C.’s robust tourism industry, local businesses participated in the Promoting Sustainable Tourism workshop in Beaufort this month. The workshop, hosted by DEQ's N.C.

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Rose Pruitt, an environmental specialist in the N.C. Division of Waste Management, was honored March 7 by Donald van der Vaart, secretary of the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality, for exemplary customer service. Pruitt, who has inspected underground storage tanks in five central North Carolina counties for about six years, received high marks from the owner of a tank she worked with in Alamance County.

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The state environmental department has issued violations against Duke Energy for allowing wastewater to leak from coal ash basins. Today’s action is another step taken by the McCrory administration to force Duke to comply with environmental rules and clean up the decades-old coal ash problem. The department may also fine Duke for violating its wastewater permits. Wastewater is treated coal ash water that leaks from ponds and reaches nearby bodies of water.

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Secretary van der Vaart visited two solar farms in Franklin County this month to get a first-hand look at North Carolina’s fastest-growing energy sector. The Cirrus solar facility is operated by Cornelius-based O2 emc on land owned by a farmer, and the Bunn solar facility is owned and operated by O2 emc. CEO Joel Olsen led a tour of the 4 megwatt, 21-acre Bunn site and the 5 megawatt, 25-acre Cirrus site. Van der Vaart also talked to local farmers about the use of agricultural land for solar energy facilities.

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State environmental officials were notified this week that North Carolina is one step closer to permanently eliminating the threat of coal ash at one of the four high priority sites named in the coal ash law.  The Duke Energy L.V. Sutton Energy Complex has successfully completed the removal of free standing water from its ash basins which immediately reduces the threat of negative environmental impacts. 

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A state environmental program that champions one of Governor Pat McCrory’s key initiatives recently celebrated a milestone. NC Green Travel recently recognized its 150th member and not long after it another business became the 151st member of the program. The state initiative recognizes businesses and others that use sustainable practices to save water, energy and money. Governor McCrory has been outspoken in his promotion of businesses and other entrepreneurial entities that seek to minimize their environmental footprint by conserving the resources they use each day.

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As part of Gov. McCrory’s vision for making it easier to interact with state agencies, DEQ will launch a new website on Feb. 15 that we hope will create a better user experience for our citizens, businesses and partners. As part of the launch, our web address will change to www.deq.nc.gov. Visitors to the old website will automatically be redirected to the new site.

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