Environmentally Speaking

As part of Governor Pat McCrory’s initiative to protect low-income and minority communities from the effects of coal ash, the state environmental agency has evaluated the potential impact of storing ash in a new lined landfill in Wilmington. An initial review found that storing ash in a new landfill near the Sutton Steam Station would have no disproportionate impact on low-income, minority, and other residential communities within a mile of the proposed site.

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DEQ Secretary Donald R. van der Vaart visited Gastonia this week to get a first-hand look at how a $35 million, zero-percent interest loan is helping the city modernize its water treatment plant. Matt Bernhardt, the Director of Public Works and Utilities in Gastonia, led the tour and described how the plant is being upgraded to meet the needs of a growing population. When the project is complete, the plant will have a capacity of 27 million gallons of water per day with plans to expand to 30 million gallons, providing safe drinking water to a service area population of over 100,000.

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In a recent letter to the U.S. Department of the Interior, Governor Pat McCrory expressed disappointment in the decision to forgo offshore energy exploration in the Mid-Atlantic. Governor McCrory, who serves as chair of the Outer Continental Shelf Governors Coalition, also urged the federal government to approve applications for seismic surveying that can pinpoint potential offshore energy resources and help states make informed decisions about energy exploration in the future. To read the full letter click here: https://files.nc.gov/ncdeq/DENR/documents/Offshore%20energy/Letter%20to%...  

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In a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last week, DEQ Secretary Donald R. van der Vaart highlighted the important factors FERC should consider while developing the Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Van der Vaart specifically noted the importance for the EIS to consider the environmental, socioeconomic and energy security benefits that the ACP will provide for North Carolina. You can read the full letter here: http://portal.ncdenr.org/c/document_library/get_file?p_l_id=1169848&fold...

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Repealing a ban on placing electronics in landfills would enable North Carolinians to safely dispose of televisions and computers and reduce a huge financial burden on local governments.   For those reasons, the state environmental agency is supporting recently introduced legislation that would lift the state’s ban on placing electronics in landfills.

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Congratulations to Debbie Forster for taking First Place in DEQ’s Nature Photography Day photo contest! Forster captured the beautiful photo below that shows a Common Buckeye Butterfly and a bumble bee sitting together on a butterfly weed plant in Clayton, North Carolina. Forster says she “doesn’t have to travel far to take nature photos.” The picture was taken right in her own back yard in what she calls her “butterfly garden.”

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Secretary van der Vaart recently joined Governor Pat McCrory and leaders from the N.C. Departments of Transportation, Military and Veteran’s Affairs, and Commerce at a Town Hall Day hosted by the N.C. League of Municipalities. Joining Governor McCrory and Secretary van der Vaart on a panel discussion were DOT Secretary Nick Tennyson, DMVA Assistant Secretary James Prosser and Commerce Chief of Staff Cecilia Holden. The panel answered questions from mayors, city council members and other local governments officials about issues that impact municipalities.

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