Environmentally Speaking

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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The U.S Supreme Court made an unprecedented moved yesterday in ruling to put a hold on the Obama administration’s federal power plan that would raise North Carolina power bills and hurt economic growth across the country.  The ruling suspends the federal government’s ability to impose the plan until the legal challenges have been resolved and is a strong indicator that the petitioning states, which include North Carolina, will succeed in their challenge of the rule.  

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RALEIGH - Leaders in Governor Pat McCrory's administration were in Kannapolis Wednesday to honor Stanley Black & Decker as part of the governor's promotion of superior environmental performance. Secretary Donald R. van der Vaart, who leads McCrory’s environmental agency, recognized Stanley Black & Decker – Kannapolis as the state’s first Environmental Steward of its kind.

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In light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to block the Obama administration’s federal power plan, the state will continue to clean up its power sector without expending resources to comply with a plan that is likely to be thrown out in court. “North Carolina is a national leader in improving air quality while keeping energy prices low,” said Secretary Donald R. van der Vaart. “North Carolina has achieved a 25% reduction in greenhouse gases since 2005 without federal intrusion and we will continue to improve air quality in the manner that best suits our state’s needs.”  

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State regulators issued a $6.6 million fine yesterday to Duke Energy for environmental violations related to the February 2014 coal ash spill at the company’s Dan River power plant in Eden. The fine covers civil penalties the company committed before, during and after the spill and only accounts for violations that the utility pled guilty to in criminal court in May 2015. The agency reserves the right to issue additional fines for other violations associated with the spill.

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