displaying: http://feeds.feedburner.com/northcarolinanews_

North Carolina Chronicle
Hungry to Help: Couple Raises Money to Help Launch Second Harvest Food Bank Satellite Site in Greensboro | Local news
Salisbury Mayor Karen Alexander and Vickie Miller of the North Carolina League of Municipalities on expanding racial equity
?Divide and conquer? politics: Thom Tillis?s infamous directive to the GOP still resonates a decade later
?Sooner? or ?later?? Fate of Wake Stone quarry near Umstead State Park hinges on one word
Congressional update: Far right attacks Fauci; committees dig into affordable housing crisis, future of coal communities
As climate emergency grows more urgent, Duke Energy seeks to supersize CO2 pollution
NC Department of Labor continues to resist workplace safety rules for COVID-19
Chapel Hill student body president: It?s past time for a genuine reckoning at UNC
Once on the fast track, super-secret energy bill derailed over costs, nukes, and unproven claims
LGTBQ center in Greensboro is open

MagpieRSS Object
(
    [parser] => Resource id #10
    [current_item] => Array
        (
        )

    [items] => Array
        (
            [0] => Array
                (
                    [title] => Hungry to Help: Couple Raises Money to Help Launch Second Harvest Food Bank Satellite Site in Greensboro |  Local news
                    [link] => https://nocarolinachronicle.com/hungry-to-help-couple-raises-money-to-help-launch-second-harvest-food-bank-satellite-site-in-greensboro-local-news/
                    [dc] => Array
                        (
                            [creator] => Bill Moran
                        )

                    [pubdate] => Mon, 21 Jun 2021 02:33:14 +0000
                    [category] => Greensboro
                    [guid] => https://nocarolinachronicle.com/?p=8698
                    [description] => 
Hungry to Help: Couple Raises Money to Help Launch Second Harvest Food Bank Satellite Site in Greensboro |  Local news

On-site manager Peabody Griffin loads cargo full of donated goods onto a pallet in the Greensboro distribution center for Second Harvest Food B … The agency made a conscious decision to locate it in one of the city’s food deserts – so named because the residents of these areas have limited access to fresh fruit […]

The post Hungry to Help: Couple Raises Money to Help Launch Second Harvest Food Bank Satellite Site in Greensboro | Local news first appeared on North Carolina Chronicle.

[content] => Array ( [encoded] =>
Hungry to Help: Couple Raises Money to Help Launch Second Harvest Food Bank Satellite Site in Greensboro |  Local news

On-site manager Peabody Griffin loads cargo full of donated goods onto a pallet in the Greensboro distribution center for Second Harvest Food B …

The agency made a conscious decision to locate it in one of the city’s food deserts – so named because the residents of these areas have limited access to fresh fruit and products.

It would take teamwork, but more importantly, Aft and others say, getting the attention of people around town who didn’t know that 40% of the food Second Harvest hands out goes to nonprofits and agencies in Greensboro and High Point that will help bring the food to the dining tables.

In the end, the group raised nearly $ 2.5 million.

“If a friend from Greensboro called you, it would be easier to hear the story,” said Kevin Gray of the Bennetts of the Weaver Foundation, “than one of someone you don’t know.”

A “generous place”

The Bennetts have often been those friends of Greensboro, though they prefer to be behind the scenes.

When Marianne Bennett, a member of Art Quest, the education branch of the Green Hill Center in the downtown Greensboro Cultural Center building, learned years ago that a popular arts program was going to be closed to non-members, she went to see her friends.

Art Quest opened its doors to non-members on Wednesday evening so parents can come and get creative with their children. On these evenings, anyone interested in art could take a child with them to paint, sculpt, draw, dress up or act.

The post Hungry to Help: Couple Raises Money to Help Launch Second Harvest Food Bank Satellite Site in Greensboro | Local news first appeared on North Carolina Chronicle.

) [summary] =>
Hungry to Help: Couple Raises Money to Help Launch Second Harvest Food Bank Satellite Site in Greensboro |  Local news

On-site manager Peabody Griffin loads cargo full of donated goods onto a pallet in the Greensboro distribution center for Second Harvest Food B … The agency made a conscious decision to locate it in one of the city’s food deserts – so named because the residents of these areas have limited access to fresh fruit […]

The post Hungry to Help: Couple Raises Money to Help Launch Second Harvest Food Bank Satellite Site in Greensboro | Local news first appeared on North Carolina Chronicle.

[atom_content] =>
Hungry to Help: Couple Raises Money to Help Launch Second Harvest Food Bank Satellite Site in Greensboro |  Local news

On-site manager Peabody Griffin loads cargo full of donated goods onto a pallet in the Greensboro distribution center for Second Harvest Food B …

The agency made a conscious decision to locate it in one of the city’s food deserts – so named because the residents of these areas have limited access to fresh fruit and products.

It would take teamwork, but more importantly, Aft and others say, getting the attention of people around town who didn’t know that 40% of the food Second Harvest hands out goes to nonprofits and agencies in Greensboro and High Point that will help bring the food to the dining tables.

In the end, the group raised nearly $ 2.5 million.

“If a friend from Greensboro called you, it would be easier to hear the story,” said Kevin Gray of the Bennetts of the Weaver Foundation, “than one of someone you don’t know.”

A “generous place”

The Bennetts have often been those friends of Greensboro, though they prefer to be behind the scenes.

When Marianne Bennett, a member of Art Quest, the education branch of the Green Hill Center in the downtown Greensboro Cultural Center building, learned years ago that a popular arts program was going to be closed to non-members, she went to see her friends.

Art Quest opened its doors to non-members on Wednesday evening so parents can come and get creative with their children. On these evenings, anyone interested in art could take a child with them to paint, sculpt, draw, dress up or act.

The post Hungry to Help: Couple Raises Money to Help Launch Second Harvest Food Bank Satellite Site in Greensboro | Local news first appeared on North Carolina Chronicle.

[date_timestamp] => 1624242794 ) [1] => Array ( [title] => Salisbury Mayor Karen Alexander and Vickie Miller of the North Carolina League of Municipalities on expanding racial equity [link] => https://nocarolinachronicle.com/salisbury-mayor-karen-alexander-and-vickie-miller-of-the-north-carolina-league-of-municipalities-on-expanding-racial-equity/ [dc] => Array ( [creator] => Bill Moran ) [pubdate] => Mon, 21 Jun 2021 00:19:46 +0000 [category] => News [guid] => https://nocarolinachronicle.com/?p=8695 [description] =>
Salisbury Mayor Karen Alexander and Vickie Miller of the North Carolina League of Municipalities on expanding racial equity

Elected leaders and staff of the North Carolina League of Municipalities unveiled a special report that examines the ways in which city leaders can and should have an impact on racial equity.  Salisbury Mayor Karen Alexander and Vickie Miller of the North Carolina League of Municipalities joined Policy Watch to discuss the findings and next […]

The post Salisbury Mayor Karen Alexander and Vickie Miller of the North Carolina League of Municipalities on expanding racial equity first appeared on North Carolina Chronicle.

[content] => Array ( [encoded] =>
Salisbury Mayor Karen Alexander and Vickie Miller of the North Carolina League of Municipalities on expanding racial equity

Elected leaders and staff of the North Carolina League of Municipalities unveiled a special report that examines the ways in which city leaders can and should have an impact on racial equity.  Salisbury Mayor Karen Alexander and Vickie Miller of the North Carolina League of Municipalities joined Policy Watch to discuss the findings and next steps. Read the Task Force on the Impact of City Leaders on Racial Equity Report.

Previous article Toll from political push at UNC continues to mount

Next article NC Policy Watch investigative environmental reporter Lisa Sorg on DEQ leadership, wind energy and controversial legislation impacting the rights of workers




originally published at http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ncpolicywatch.com%2F2021%2F06%2F14%2Fsalisbury-mayor-karen-alexander-and-vickie-miller-of-the-north-carolina-league-of-municipalities%2F by Clayton Henkel

The post Salisbury Mayor Karen Alexander and Vickie Miller of the North Carolina League of Municipalities on expanding racial equity first appeared on North Carolina Chronicle.

) [summary] =>
Salisbury Mayor Karen Alexander and Vickie Miller of the North Carolina League of Municipalities on expanding racial equity

Elected leaders and staff of the North Carolina League of Municipalities unveiled a special report that examines the ways in which city leaders can and should have an impact on racial equity.  Salisbury Mayor Karen Alexander and Vickie Miller of the North Carolina League of Municipalities joined Policy Watch to discuss the findings and next […]

The post Salisbury Mayor Karen Alexander and Vickie Miller of the North Carolina League of Municipalities on expanding racial equity first appeared on North Carolina Chronicle.

[atom_content] =>
Salisbury Mayor Karen Alexander and Vickie Miller of the North Carolina League of Municipalities on expanding racial equity

Elected leaders and staff of the North Carolina League of Municipalities unveiled a special report that examines the ways in which city leaders can and should have an impact on racial equity.  Salisbury Mayor Karen Alexander and Vickie Miller of the North Carolina League of Municipalities joined Policy Watch to discuss the findings and next steps. Read the Task Force on the Impact of City Leaders on Racial Equity Report.

Previous article Toll from political push at UNC continues to mount

Next article NC Policy Watch investigative environmental reporter Lisa Sorg on DEQ leadership, wind energy and controversial legislation impacting the rights of workers




originally published at http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ncpolicywatch.com%2F2021%2F06%2F14%2Fsalisbury-mayor-karen-alexander-and-vickie-miller-of-the-north-carolina-league-of-municipalities%2F by Clayton Henkel

The post Salisbury Mayor Karen Alexander and Vickie Miller of the North Carolina League of Municipalities on expanding racial equity first appeared on North Carolina Chronicle.

[date_timestamp] => 1624234786 ) [2] => Array ( [title] => ?Divide and conquer? politics: Thom Tillis?s infamous directive to the GOP still resonates a decade later [link] => https://nocarolinachronicle.com/divide-and-conquer-politics-thom-tilliss-infamous-directive-to-the-gop-still-resonates-a-decade-later/ [dc] => Array ( [creator] => Bill Moran ) [pubdate] => Mon, 21 Jun 2021 00:19:01 +0000 [category] => News [guid] => https://nocarolinachronicle.com/?p=8692 [description] =>
?Divide and conquer? politics: Thom Tillis?s infamous directive to the GOP still resonates a decade later

Then-North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis pushed a ?divide and conquer? agenda. It?s a common phenomenon for well-known politicians to become associated with, or remembered for, an inspiring or infamous utterance. ?The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.? ?Ask not what your country can do for yourself. Ask what you can do […]

The post ?Divide and conquer? politics: Thom Tillis?s infamous directive to the GOP still resonates a decade later first appeared on North Carolina Chronicle.

[content] => Array ( [encoded] =>
?Divide and conquer? politics: Thom Tillis?s infamous directive to the GOP still resonates a decade later

Then-North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis pushed a ?divide and conquer? agenda.

It?s a common phenomenon for well-known politicians to become associated with, or remembered for, an inspiring or infamous utterance.

?The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.?

?Ask not what your country can do for yourself. Ask what you can do for your country.?

?Mr. Gorbachev: tear down this wall.?

?I am not a crook.?

And this doesn?t apply just to presidents. In North Carolina, many people remember former U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms for a number of provocative, mostly hateful statements.

Among current politicians, the list of memorable and influential turns of phrase is short and, one supposes, not aided by the constraints of modern social media. Interestingly, however, one prominent North Carolina politician whose 15-years-and-counting political career continues to be marked by a memorable and, as it has turned out, highly influential and prescient statement.

It?s been just shy of a decade now since the then-North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis addressed an audience in western North Carolina and said:

What we have to do is find a way to divide and conquer the people who are on assistance.

We have to show respect for that woman who has cerebral palsy and had no choice in her condition, that needs help, and we should help. And we need to get those folks to look down at these people who choose to get into a condition that makes them dependent on the government, and say, at some point, you?re on your own. We may end up taking care of those babies, but we?re not going to take care of you.?

Tillis later tried to walk back the statement and publicly distance himself from its dark implications, but there is a growing body of evidence that its central ?divide and conquer? premise has been enormously influential in guiding the modern political right.

Nowhere is this better evidenced now than in the debates over K-12 and higher education.

For at least the last 150 years, no other public institution in North Carolina has done more to advance the cause of broadly shared opportunity and prosperity for all than free, universal public education. Indeed, for all their many shortcomings ? racial segregation and its legacy, frequently inadequate resources, the broken promise of truly free higher education ? public schools and universities have remained our greatest hope. They are the places in which our children prepare for adulthood, learn to live with people who are different, and begin to grasp what it means to be a citizen.

What?s more, the overwhelming majority of North Carolinians still ?get? this reality. Indeed, a recent statewide poll found that a significant bipartisan majority of North Carolinians ? 69%? believe the state does not invest enough in pu

For all their many shortcomings ? racial segregation and its legacy, frequently inadequate resources, the broken promise of truly free higher education ? public schools and universities have remained our greatest hope.

blic schools. This includes 62% of Republicans and a whopping 77% of all parents.

Unfortunately, for a narrow but well-funded and influential swath of the American right, this consensus is an anathema.

These are the forces that derogatorily refer to public education as ?government schools,? who attack school integration as ?social engineering,? who rail about the cost of free and reduced-priced school lunches, who dream of a day in which all students attend ?voucher schools,? and who argue that public universities should be more exclusive, more expensive and designed, first and foremost, to produce workers.

And, owing to the generally unfavorable view that much of the public still holds toward these extreme beliefs, these are the forces who have once again turned to Tillis?s prescription of ?divide and conquer? politics in hopes of recapturing the national political initiative in 2021.

This is the reason Americans are currently enduring a massive, multi-million-dollar national propaganda campaign to raise up and then tear down a supposed bogeyman called ?critical race theory.?

This is why the right wing is trying so hard to make an example of the Nikole Hannah-Jones hire at the UNC journalism school.

This is why groups with names like the ?Education First Alliance? are working hand-in-glove with Republican groups to win ever-more-outrageous statements and stances from public officials, recruit school board candidates, and hold parent ?boot camps? in which attendees are told that white Americans are the target of a grand, racially discriminatory conspiracy.

When your ultimate goal is to dismantle a great and vitally important public institution of longstanding and unparalleled value and sustained popularity and, in effect, sell it off for parts, you have to find your openings where you can. And if that means using thinly veiled appeals to white supremacy to ?divide and conquer? people who should be natural allies ? like Americans of all races of low- and moderate-income for whom public education can and should be their shared path to personal and collective opportunity and prosperity ? in order to get them to ?look down? on each other ? well, so be it.

Perhaps Sen. Tillis, who?s already lent a hand to the effort, can reprise his 2011 performance as part of the campaign.



originally published at http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ncpolicywatch.com%2F2021%2F06%2F15%2Fdivide-and-conquer-politics-thom-tilliss-infamous-directive-to-the-gop-still-resonates-a-decade-later%2F by Rob Schofield

The post ?Divide and conquer? politics: Thom Tillis?s infamous directive to the GOP still resonates a decade later first appeared on North Carolina Chronicle.

) [summary] =>
?Divide and conquer? politics: Thom Tillis?s infamous directive to the GOP still resonates a decade later

Then-North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis pushed a ?divide and conquer? agenda. It?s a common phenomenon for well-known politicians to become associated with, or remembered for, an inspiring or infamous utterance. ?The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.? ?Ask not what your country can do for yourself. Ask what you can do […]

The post ?Divide and conquer? politics: Thom Tillis?s infamous directive to the GOP still resonates a decade later first appeared on North Carolina Chronicle.

[atom_content] =>
?Divide and conquer? politics: Thom Tillis?s infamous directive to the GOP still resonates a decade later

Then-North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis pushed a ?divide and conquer? agenda.

It?s a common phenomenon for well-known politicians to become associated with, or remembered for, an inspiring or infamous utterance.

?The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.?

?Ask not what your country can do for yourself. Ask what you can do for your country.?

?Mr. Gorbachev: tear down this wall.?

?I am not a crook.?

And this doesn?t apply just to presidents. In North Carolina, many people remember former U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms for a number of provocative, mostly hateful statements.

Among current politicians, the list of memorable and influential turns of phrase is short and, one supposes, not aided by the constraints of modern social media. Interestingly, however, one prominent North Carolina politician whose 15-years-and-counting political career continues to be marked by a memorable and, as it has turned out, highly influential and prescient statement.

It?s been just shy of a decade now since the then-North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis addressed an audience in western North Carolina and said:

What we have to do is find a way to divide and conquer the people who are on assistance.

We have to show respect for that woman who has cerebral palsy and had no choice in her condition, that needs help, and we should help. And we need to get those folks to look down at these people who choose to get into a condition that makes them dependent on the government, and say, at some point, you?re on your own. We may end up taking care of those babies, but we?re not going to take care of you.?

Tillis later tried to walk back the statement and publicly distance himself from its dark implications, but there is a growing body of evidence that its central ?divide and conquer? premise has been enormously influential in guiding the modern political right.

Nowhere is this better evidenced now than in the debates over K-12 and higher education.

For at least the last 150 years, no other public institution in North Carolina has done more to advance the cause of broadly shared opportunity and prosperity for all than free, universal public education. Indeed, for all their many shortcomings ? racial segregation and its legacy, frequently inadequate resources, the broken promise of truly free higher education ? public schools and universities have remained our greatest hope. They are the places in which our children prepare for adulthood, learn to live with people who are different, and begin to grasp what it means to be a citizen.

What?s more, the overwhelming majority of North Carolinians still ?get? this reality. Indeed, a recent statewide poll found that a significant bipartisan majority of North Carolinians ? 69%? believe the state does not invest enough in pu

For all their many shortcomings ? racial segregation and its legacy, frequently inadequate resources, the broken promise of truly free higher education ? public schools and universities have remained our greatest hope.

blic schools. This includes 62% of Republicans and a whopping 77% of all parents.

Unfortunately, for a narrow but well-funded and influential swath of the American right, this consensus is an anathema.

These are the forces that derogatorily refer to public education as ?government schools,? who attack school integration as ?social engineering,? who rail about the cost of free and reduced-priced school lunches, who dream of a day in which all students attend ?voucher schools,? and who argue that public universities should be more exclusive, more expensive and designed, first and foremost, to produce workers.

And, owing to the generally unfavorable view that much of the public still holds toward these extreme beliefs, these are the forces who have once again turned to Tillis?s prescription of ?divide and conquer? politics in hopes of recapturing the national political initiative in 2021.

This is the reason Americans are currently enduring a massive, multi-million-dollar national propaganda campaign to raise up and then tear down a supposed bogeyman called ?critical race theory.?

This is why the right wing is trying so hard to make an example of the Nikole Hannah-Jones hire at the UNC journalism school.

This is why groups with names like the ?Education First Alliance? are working hand-in-glove with Republican groups to win ever-more-outrageous statements and stances from public officials, recruit school board candidates, and hold parent ?boot camps? in which attendees are told that white Americans are the target of a grand, racially discriminatory conspiracy.

When your ultimate goal is to dismantle a great and vitally important public institution of longstanding and unparalleled value and sustained popularity and, in effect, sell it off for parts, you have to find your openings where you can. And if that means using thinly veiled appeals to white supremacy to ?divide and conquer? people who should be natural allies ? like Americans of all races of low- and moderate-income for whom public education can and should be their shared path to personal and collective opportunity and prosperity ? in order to get them to ?look down? on each other ? well, so be it.

Perhaps Sen. Tillis, who?s already lent a hand to the effort, can reprise his 2011 performance as part of the campaign.



originally published at http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ncpolicywatch.com%2F2021%2F06%2F15%2Fdivide-and-conquer-politics-thom-tilliss-infamous-directive-to-the-gop-still-resonates-a-decade-later%2F by Rob Schofield

The post ?Divide and conquer? politics: Thom Tillis?s infamous directive to the GOP still resonates a decade later first appeared on North Carolina Chronicle.

[date_timestamp] => 1624234741 ) [3] => Array ( [title] => ?Sooner? or ?later?? Fate of Wake Stone quarry near Umstead State Park hinges on one word [link] => https://nocarolinachronicle.com/sooner-or-later-fate-of-wake-stone-quarry-near-umstead-state-park-hinges-on-one-word/ [dc] => Array ( [creator] => Bill Moran ) [pubdate] => Mon, 21 Jun 2021 00:18:47 +0000 [category] => News [guid] => https://nocarolinachronicle.com/?p=8689 [description] =>
'Sooner' or 'later'? Fate of Wake Stone quarry near Umstead State Park hinges on one word

Photo by Lisa Sorg Former N.C. Attorney General says there was no typo, and the state intended for mining to wind down in 2032, not the 22nd century One word ? ?sooner? ? in a 40-year-old mining permit could alter the future of a quarry and its controversial proposed expansion adjacent to Umstead State Park […]

The post 'Sooner' or 'later'? Fate of Wake Stone quarry near Umstead State Park hinges on one word first appeared on North Carolina Chronicle.

[content] => Array ( [encoded] =>
'Sooner' or 'later'? Fate of Wake Stone quarry near Umstead State Park hinges on one word

Photo by Lisa Sorg

Former N.C. Attorney General says there was no typo, and the state intended for mining to wind down in 2032, not the 22nd century

One word ? ?sooner? ? in a 40-year-old mining permit could alter the future of a quarry and its controversial proposed expansion adjacent to Umstead State Park in Raleigh.

According to former North Carolina Attorney General Rufus Edmisten,the issuers of the original 1981 state permit intended that Wake Stone stop mining and begin reclamation of the site when the quarry was exhausted, or in 50 years, whichever was ?sooner.? That language would require reclamation to begin in 2032.

But a 2018 permit change appears to allow the company to continue to operate the mine until it is exhausted, or for 50 years, whichever is ?later.? The change could ease the way for Wake Stone to expand the quarry and continue mining for decades.

If the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality determines the new information from Edmisten is valid, it could not only halt mining sooner at the existing quarry, but also make the controversial proposed expansion less viable because of a shortened timeline. The state Division of Energy, Mineral, and Land Resources (DEMLR) could decide on the expansion permit before the end of the summer.

Edmisten had sent the email detailing his memory to former Wake County Commissioner Erv Portman, an opponent of the quarry, who forwarded it to state environmental regulators.

A controversy that?s spanned four decades

Edmisten, who served as attorney general from 1974 to 1984, recently reviewed the permit change on behalf of Portman and other members of the Umstead Coalition, opponents of the mine.

?The Division is aware of the questions raised by Mr. Portman,? said Sharon Martin, DEQ deputy secretary for public affairs. ?The permit application is still in the review process and all public comments and information provided will be considered during that process.?

Edmisten could not be reached by phone at his law office, but through his assistant verified the email.

Wake Stone spokeswoman Melanie Jennings said Edmisten was not involved in the permit application review or the company?s subsequent appeals to the state Mining Commission. ?His letter is purely a recollection on his part as to what was meant,? Jennings said.

Former North Carolina Attorney General Rufus Edmisten

While it is true that Edmisten was not directly involved in the original permitting for the site, his office was embroiled in the controversy. Assistant Attorney General Daniel Oakley represented the Department of Natural Resources and Community Development, now known as DEQ, and its divisions. Edmisten was also regularly informed about the issue and was often quoted in media reports at the time as opposing the project.

DEMLR, then known as the Division of Land Resources, originally denied Wake Stone?s permit application in August 1980. It cited concerns that the proposed quarry ?would have a significantly adverse effect on the purposes of a publicly owned park, forest or recreation area.?

?The combined effects of noise, sedimentation, dust, traffic and blasting vibration? associated with quarry would impact the park ?in the form of noise intrusion and deterioration of visual resources,? the denial read.

Wake Stone appealed the decision to the state Mining Commission, which overturned the division?s ruling in the spring of 1981. The Mining Commission?s decision contains a pivotal section: It states that reclamation must begin when the quarry is exhausted or in 50 years, whichever is ?later.?

In an email to DEMLR, Edmisten wrote that Wake Stone ?always preferred no time limit ? and the Mining Commission copied that position into their final order.?

But ?later? did not appear in the final permit. Steve Conrad, then the state director of land resources, issued the permit to Wake Stone in May 1981, with the word ?sooner.? 

In issuing the permit, Conrad wrote to Wake Stone, asking the company to review it ?and notify this office of any objection or question concerning the terms.? Wake Stone did not; the company later contended the word ?sooner? was a typo.

?To the best of my memory, what I can say is that I do not think Director [Steve] Conrad made a typographical error with the word ?Sooner? in the permit ?? Edmisten wrote last month to DEMLR. ?I also find it difficult to believe Wake Stone would have accepted the permit if it was an error. This was not a small or insignificant point.?

Conrad died in 2011.

Even though the ?sooner? language appeared in Wake Stone?s mining permit, the company never appealed it in eight routine renewals ? until 2011. ?For whatever reason, the suggested word change was omitted? in 2011, Wake Stone wrote to DEMLR this year. ?Wake Stone chose not to pursue the issue further at that time.?

However, in 2018, DEMLR removed the word ?sooner? from the permit and changed it to ?later,? at Wake Stone?s request, state documents show. 

Judy Wehner assistant state mining specialist, made the change to ?later? during an email exchange with the company, documents show, with no opportunity for public comment. DEMLR considered the change merely administrative, and was among minor modifications in the permit that did not require public notice.

Yet the word change coincided with two important developments: Wake Stone and the RDU Airport Authority had been negotiating over leasing land next to the park for the quarry expansion. Many DEMLR employees had also moved on by 2018, leaving little institutional memory to counter Wake Stone?s narrative.

Erv Portman

Portman told Policy Watch that, ?the dispute over whether a mine belongs next to the park was settled for 37 years. These shenanigans began after [DEMLR] people retired or died.?

Tracy Davis joined the Division of Land Resources in 1987. He ascended to Division Director from 2012 to 2017. He retired a few months before the division changed the permit language. 

Davis is now a private technical consultant to the mining and quarrying industry. He has worked with Wake Stone as a consultant, he said, but only on reviewing technical issues, such as erosion and sediment control, buffers and berms, ?not on the part about the sunset clause.?

During his time at DEMLR, including as director, Davis said staff reviewed only technical issues related to the Wake Stone permit. 

?We stayed away from that section,? Davis said. ?It was a final agency decision? ? that of the mining commission.

He told Policy Watch that the Mining Commission?s decision ? which used the term ?later? ? is the ultimate arbiter of the case, as laid out in state law. ?That?s where the buck stops,? Davis said.

Picking and choosing regulations?

The Mining Commission has not met since 2015. But in 1981 the five-member board ruled on the Wake Stone quarry, which would have long-term implications for Umstead State Park.

Wake Stone operates the quarry off Harrison Avenue near the park. Under a controversial agreement, the RDU Airport Authority board has leased an additional 105 acres, known as the ?Odd Fellows tract,? to the company as part of a quarry expansion. On 45 of the acres, the company intends to blast a pit 40 stories deep to extract the minerals, crush them and sell the material for road-building and other uses. While Wake Stone has agreed to invest millions of dollars in adjacent natural areas and mountain bike trails, the mining could continue for 25 years or more.

The expansion permit is what DEMLR is expected to decide on this summer.

In researching the history of the 1981 mining commission decision, Jean Spooner, a member of the Umstead Coalition, noticed several key documents were missing from DEQ files; Portman subsequently located them at the State Archives. Those 1981 documents ? the amended and corrected version of the Mining Commission decision ?  show that either the state or Wake Stone could have appealed the ruling to Superior Court. 

There were no appeals. Instead, historical documents show that state regulators decided to negotiate with Wake Stone to mitigate the potential harm the quarry could inflict on Umstead Park. 

?We suggest you follow a deliberate procedure to develop either the most stringent possible conditions for the quarry or to exercise further legal remedies ? if satisfactory conditions cannot be developed,? wrote Neil Grigg, a top state environmental official to then-Secretary Howard Lee. 

Grigg also suggested that the department and Wake Stone ?begin to discuss what conditions would be satisfactory to both the department and the company.? If the department could secure key protections for the park, they would not appeal the case.

Those protections included buffers, noise limitations and the inclusion of the ?sooner? clause. And Wake Stone accepted those conditions.

?It is clear that I, Governor [Jim] Hunt and Secretary Lee publicly criticized the Mining Commission decision,? Edmisten wrote, ?as we opposed the location of a quarry adjacent to the state park, and we were publicly on record considering a legal appeal of the mining commission decision. It is also clear from newspaper reports at the time, Wake Stone publicly stated they expected the life of the mine to be 50 years. These three facts are not in dispute and are confirmed by the public record.?

Portman says that Wake Stone has failed to comply with some of the permit conditions regarding buffers; instead the company is ?picking and choosing? the provisions it wants to comply with, he said.

For example, the Mining Commission decision and the original permit ordered the company to keep a northern section of the property as a natural permanent buffer, ?not to be developed or altered for commercial purposes.? But state records show that in 1986, Wake Stone requested an amendment to its permit to included a dam within that very buffer zone ? although the company had already violated the terms of the permit. 

Wake Stone CEO Sam Bratton

?We understand that Wake Stone, without written authorization, has cleared the land necessary to allow construction of this dam,? wrote William Davis, director of the Department of Natural Resources and Community Development.

Wake Stone also received a ?letter of deficiency? from the state in 1987 for failure to keep sediment runoff from leaving the site. State regulators again in 1992 notified the company it had violated the buffer requirements of its mining permit, this time by allowing rock to slide into a protected area near Crabtree Creek.

Wake Stone CEO Sam Bratton said the company addressed the issues ?to the satisfaction of the department and no violations were issued.? (Bratton was appointed by Gov. Cooper to the Mining Commission last year.)

?They have violated the buffers and undone the sunset clause,? Portman said. ?The two major protections have not been honored.?

Now, 40 years after the Mining Commission decision, Umstead Park is again in the crosshairs. And like the permit decision of 1981, DEMLR?s ruling this year could affect the park for decades, even into the 22nd century. 

?Steve Conrad was right,? Portman said. ?The quarry should have never been put there.?



originally published at http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ncpolicywatch.com%2F2021%2F06%2F15%2Fsooner-or-later-fate-of-wake-stone-quarry-near-umstead-state-park-hinges-on-one-word%2F by Lisa Sorg

The post 'Sooner' or 'later'? Fate of Wake Stone quarry near Umstead State Park hinges on one word first appeared on North Carolina Chronicle.

) [summary] =>
'Sooner' or 'later'? Fate of Wake Stone quarry near Umstead State Park hinges on one word

Photo by Lisa Sorg Former N.C. Attorney General says there was no typo, and the state intended for mining to wind down in 2032, not the 22nd century One word ? ?sooner? ? in a 40-year-old mining permit could alter the future of a quarry and its controversial proposed expansion adjacent to Umstead State Park […]

The post 'Sooner' or 'later'? Fate of Wake Stone quarry near Umstead State Park hinges on one word first appeared on North Carolina Chronicle.

[atom_content] =>
'Sooner' or 'later'? Fate of Wake Stone quarry near Umstead State Park hinges on one word

Photo by Lisa Sorg

Former N.C. Attorney General says there was no typo, and the state intended for mining to wind down in 2032, not the 22nd century

One word ? ?sooner? ? in a 40-year-old mining permit could alter the future of a quarry and its controversial proposed expansion adjacent to Umstead State Park in Raleigh.

According to former North Carolina Attorney General Rufus Edmisten,the issuers of the original 1981 state permit intended that Wake Stone stop mining and begin reclamation of the site when the quarry was exhausted, or in 50 years, whichever was ?sooner.? That language would require reclamation to begin in 2032.

But a 2018 permit change appears to allow the company to continue to operate the mine until it is exhausted, or for 50 years, whichever is ?later.? The change could ease the way for Wake Stone to expand the quarry and continue mining for decades.

If the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality determines the new information from Edmisten is valid, it could not only halt mining sooner at the existing quarry, but also make the controversial proposed expansion less viable because of a shortened timeline. The state Division of Energy, Mineral, and Land Resources (DEMLR) could decide on the expansion permit before the end of the summer.

Edmisten had sent the email detailing his memory to former Wake County Commissioner Erv Portman, an opponent of the quarry, who forwarded it to state environmental regulators.

A controversy that?s spanned four decades

Edmisten, who served as attorney general from 1974 to 1984, recently reviewed the permit change on behalf of Portman and other members of the Umstead Coalition, opponents of the mine.

?The Division is aware of the questions raised by Mr. Portman,? said Sharon Martin, DEQ deputy secretary for public affairs. ?The permit application is still in the review process and all public comments and information provided will be considered during that process.?

Edmisten could not be reached by phone at his law office, but through his assistant verified the email.

Wake Stone spokeswoman Melanie Jennings said Edmisten was not involved in the permit application review or the company?s subsequent appeals to the state Mining Commission. ?His letter is purely a recollection on his part as to what was meant,? Jennings said.

Former North Carolina Attorney General Rufus Edmisten

While it is true that Edmisten was not directly involved in the original permitting for the site, his office was embroiled in the controversy. Assistant Attorney General Daniel Oakley represented the Department of Natural Resources and Community Development, now known as DEQ, and its divisions. Edmisten was also regularly informed about the issue and was often quoted in media reports at the time as opposing the project.

DEMLR, then known as the Division of Land Resources, originally denied Wake Stone?s permit application in August 1980. It cited concerns that the proposed quarry ?would have a significantly adverse effect on the purposes of a publicly owned park, forest or recreation area.?

?The combined effects of noise, sedimentation, dust, traffic and blasting vibration? associated with quarry would impact the park ?in the form of noise intrusion and deterioration of visual resources,? the denial read.

Wake Stone appealed the decision to the state Mining Commission, which overturned the division?s ruling in the spring of 1981. The Mining Commission?s decision contains a pivotal section: It states that reclamation must begin when the quarry is exhausted or in 50 years, whichever is ?later.?

In an email to DEMLR, Edmisten wrote that Wake Stone ?always preferred no time limit ? and the Mining Commission copied that position into their final order.?

But ?later? did not appear in the final permit. Steve Conrad, then the state director of land resources, issued the permit to Wake Stone in May 1981, with the word ?sooner.? 

In issuing the permit, Conrad wrote to Wake Stone, asking the company to review it ?and notify this office of any objection or question concerning the terms.? Wake Stone did not; the company later contended the word ?sooner? was a typo.

?To the best of my memory, what I can say is that I do not think Director [Steve] Conrad made a typographical error with the word ?Sooner? in the permit ?? Edmisten wrote last month to DEMLR. ?I also find it difficult to believe Wake Stone would have accepted the permit if it was an error. This was not a small or insignificant point.?

Conrad died in 2011.

Even though the ?sooner? language appeared in Wake Stone?s mining permit, the company never appealed it in eight routine renewals ? until 2011. ?For whatever reason, the suggested word change was omitted? in 2011, Wake Stone wrote to DEMLR this year. ?Wake Stone chose not to pursue the issue further at that time.?

However, in 2018, DEMLR removed the word ?sooner? from the permit and changed it to ?later,? at Wake Stone?s request, state documents show. 

Judy Wehner assistant state mining specialist, made the change to ?later? during an email exchange with the company, documents show, with no opportunity for public comment. DEMLR considered the change merely administrative, and was among minor modifications in the permit that did not require public notice.

Yet the word change coincided with two important developments: Wake Stone and the RDU Airport Authority had been negotiating over leasing land next to the park for the quarry expansion. Many DEMLR employees had also moved on by 2018, leaving little institutional memory to counter Wake Stone?s narrative.

Erv Portman

Portman told Policy Watch that, ?the dispute over whether a mine belongs next to the park was settled for 37 years. These shenanigans began after [DEMLR] people retired or died.?

Tracy Davis joined the Division of Land Resources in 1987. He ascended to Division Director from 2012 to 2017. He retired a few months before the division changed the permit language. 

Davis is now a private technical consultant to the mining and quarrying industry. He has worked with Wake Stone as a consultant, he said, but only on reviewing technical issues, such as erosion and sediment control, buffers and berms, ?not on the part about the sunset clause.?

During his time at DEMLR, including as director, Davis said staff reviewed only technical issues related to the Wake Stone permit. 

?We stayed away from that section,? Davis said. ?It was a final agency decision? ? that of the mining commission.

He told Policy Watch that the Mining Commission?s decision ? which used the term ?later? ? is the ultimate arbiter of the case, as laid out in state law. ?That?s where the buck stops,? Davis said.

Picking and choosing regulations?

The Mining Commission has not met since 2015. But in 1981 the five-member board ruled on the Wake Stone quarry, which would have long-term implications for Umstead State Park.

Wake Stone operates the quarry off Harrison Avenue near the park. Under a controversial agreement, the RDU Airport Authority board has leased an additional 105 acres, known as the ?Odd Fellows tract,? to the company as part of a quarry expansion. On 45 of the acres, the company intends to blast a pit 40 stories deep to extract the minerals, crush them and sell the material for road-building and other uses. While Wake Stone has agreed to invest millions of dollars in adjacent natural areas and mountain bike trails, the mining could continue for 25 years or more.

The expansion permit is what DEMLR is expected to decide on this summer.

In researching the history of the 1981 mining commission decision, Jean Spooner, a member of the Umstead Coalition, noticed several key documents were missing from DEQ files; Portman subsequently located them at the State Archives. Those 1981 documents ? the amended and corrected version of the Mining Commission decision ?  show that either the state or Wake Stone could have appealed the ruling to Superior Court. 

There were no appeals. Instead, historical documents show that state regulators decided to negotiate with Wake Stone to mitigate the potential harm the quarry could inflict on Umstead Park. 

?We suggest you follow a deliberate procedure to develop either the most stringent possible conditions for the quarry or to exercise further legal remedies ? if satisfactory conditions cannot be developed,? wrote Neil Grigg, a top state environmental official to then-Secretary Howard Lee. 

Grigg also suggested that the department and Wake Stone ?begin to discuss what conditions would be satisfactory to both the department and the company.? If the department could secure key protections for the park, they would not appeal the case.

Those protections included buffers, noise limitations and the inclusion of the ?sooner? clause. And Wake Stone accepted those conditions.

?It is clear that I, Governor [Jim] Hunt and Secretary Lee publicly criticized the Mining Commission decision,? Edmisten wrote, ?as we opposed the location of a quarry adjacent to the state park, and we were publicly on record considering a legal appeal of the mining commission decision. It is also clear from newspaper reports at the time, Wake Stone publicly stated they expected the life of the mine to be 50 years. These three facts are not in dispute and are confirmed by the public record.?

Portman says that Wake Stone has failed to comply with some of the permit conditions regarding buffers; instead the company is ?picking and choosing? the provisions it wants to comply with, he said.

For example, the Mining Commission decision and the original permit ordered the company to keep a northern section of the property as a natural permanent buffer, ?not to be developed or altered for commercial purposes.? But state records show that in 1986, Wake Stone requested an amendment to its permit to included a dam within that very buffer zone ? although the company had already violated the terms of the permit. 

Wake Stone CEO Sam Bratton

?We understand that Wake Stone, without written authorization, has cleared the land necessary to allow construction of this dam,? wrote William Davis, director of the Department of Natural Resources and Community Development.

Wake Stone also received a ?letter of deficiency? from the state in 1987 for failure to keep sediment runoff from leaving the site. State regulators again in 1992 notified the company it had violated the buffer requirements of its mining permit, this time by allowing rock to slide into a protected area near Crabtree Creek.

Wake Stone CEO Sam Bratton said the company addressed the issues ?to the satisfaction of the department and no violations were issued.? (Bratton was appointed by Gov. Cooper to the Mining Commission last year.)

?They have violated the buffers and undone the sunset clause,? Portman said. ?The two major protections have not been honored.?

Now, 40 years after the Mining Commission decision, Umstead Park is again in the crosshairs. And like the permit decision of 1981, DEMLR?s ruling this year could affect the park for decades, even into the 22nd century. 

?Steve Conrad was right,? Portman said. ?The quarry should have never been put there.?



originally published at http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ncpolicywatch.com%2F2021%2F06%2F15%2Fsooner-or-later-fate-of-wake-stone-quarry-near-umstead-state-park-hinges-on-one-word%2F by Lisa Sorg

The post 'Sooner' or 'later'? Fate of Wake Stone quarry near Umstead State Park hinges on one word first appeared on North Carolina Chronicle.

[date_timestamp] => 1624234727 ) [4] => Array ( [title] => Congressional update: Far right attacks Fauci; committees dig into affordable housing crisis, future of coal communities [link] => https://nocarolinachronicle.com/congressional-update-far-right-attacks-fauci-committees-dig-into-affordable-housing-crisis-future-of-coal-communities/ [dc] => Array ( [creator] => Bill Moran ) [pubdate] => Mon, 21 Jun 2021 00:18:39 +0000 [category] => News [guid] => https://nocarolinachronicle.com/?p=8686 [description] =>
Congressional update: Far right attacks Fauci; committees dig into affordable housing crisis, future of coal communities

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) speaks at a news conference on the ?Fire Fauci Act? on Capitol Hill on June 15, 2021 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images) Marjorie Taylor Greene in new attack on Fauci demands his salary be stripped By Laura Olson WASHINGTON ? U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia […]

The post Congressional update: Far right attacks Fauci; committees dig into affordable housing crisis, future of coal communities first appeared on North Carolina Chronicle.

[content] => Array ( [encoded] =>
Congressional update: Far right attacks Fauci; committees dig into affordable housing crisis, future of coal communities

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) speaks at a news conference on the ?Fire Fauci Act? on Capitol Hill on June 15, 2021 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Marjorie Taylor Greene in new attack on Fauci demands his salary be stripped

By Laura Olson

WASHINGTON ? U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia on Tuesday led a group of House Republicans calling for the firing of Dr. Anthony Fauci, formalizing their intense criticism of his public statements and actions throughout the coronavirus pandemic into legislation.

Those GOP lawmakers can?t actually oust Fauci from his post as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a top Biden administration adviser. Instead, the bill led by Greene would eliminate his federal salary, which was more than $417,000 in 2019.

?Dr. Fauci was not elected by the American people. He was not chosen to guide our economy. He was not chosen to rule over parents and their children?s education,? Greene said. ?But yet, Dr. Fauci very much controlled our lives for this past year.?

Greene was joined at the news conference by Republican cosponsors of her legislation, including Reps. Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar, of Arizona; Buddy Carter, of Georgia; and Bob Good, of Virginia.

Their bill has no likelihood of passage in the House, which is controlled by Democrats, but the event gave Greene and other conservatives another chance to attack Fauci, who became the face of the federal government?s response to COVID-19.

They accused him of misleading the public by shifting his guidance on mask-wearing and details of how the virus is transmitted ? even though he and other leading scientists have defended the updates to those recommendations as the expected result of learning more about a brand-new health threat.

?As a scientist, as a health official, when those data change, when you get more information, it?s essential that you change your position because you have to be guided by the science and the current data,? Fauci said in a recent interview with MSNBC?s Chuck Todd.

Fauci has been a political lightning rod throughout the pandemic, with liberals praising the charismatic public health official and Republicans demonizing him as the Trump administration struggled to contain the virus, at times taking actions counter to Fauci?s counsel.

Those attacks against Fauci have renewed amid the release of thousands of pages of Fauci?s work emails throughout the pandemic, which were acquired by BuzzFeed and the Washington Post via Freedom of Information Act requests.

?He?s an actor, and deserves an Academy Award for best dramatic acting in a pandemic,? Gosar said of Fauci.

Gosar accused Fauci of knowing that the virus causing COVID-19 originated in a lab in Wuhan, China. But Fauci?s emails have not shown that to be the case, and broader evidence remains inconclusive as to the virus? precise origins.

Others focused on the lockdowns that affected U.S. schools and businesses last year, with Good blaming Fauci for ?ridiculous policies that locked down our churches and small businesses.?

The White House has made clear that it is standing with Fauci, with President Joe Biden saying recently that he is ?very confident? in Fauci?s ability to do his job.

The GOP news conference came a day after Greene sought to tamp down a wave of criticism she has faced for repeatedly using Holocaust comparisons to criticize face-mask mandates that have been enacted amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Those statements drew a rebuke from Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), and the prospect of a censure by the U.S. House. On Monday, Greene visited the Holocaust Memorial Museum in D.C., and afterward acknowledged to reporters that some of her past comments were ?offensive? and ?hurtful.?

?There is no comparison to the Holocaust,? Greene said Monday evening.

Greene was stripped earlier this year of her committee assignments for her past social media postings in which she supported violence against Democratic leaders and lawmakers.

===

For businesses to retain talented workers and for their communities to grow, the mayors say they need help from the federal government to invest in affordable housing. (Image: Adobe Stock)

Mayors of U.S. cities plead for federal funds to alleviate housing crisis

By Ariana Figueroa

WASHINGTON?The mayors of cities in Ohio, Montana and Arizona stressed the need for affordable housing to be included in any congressional infrastructure package during a Tuesday hearing before the U.S. Senate Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs Committee.

Mayors Daniel Horrigan of Akron, Ohio, Cyndy Andrus of Bozeman, Mont., and Corey Woods of Tempe, Ariz., all said that their cities are facing a housing crisis. For businesses to retain talented workers and for their communities to grow, they need help from the federal government to invest in affordable housing, they said.

?Housing is the basic building block of a community,? Andrus said in her opening statement. ?Why build all that infrastructure if no one can afford to live in the community??

She added that the median price for a single-family home in April in Bozeman was $660,000 ?a 50% increase within a year. She said a similar increase is being seen with town homes and apartments.

Woods said that homeownership in Tempe is out of reach for many residents, which has led to a high number of renters. He said 42% of them are ?cost burdened??meaning those households pay more than 30% of their gross income in rent.

Woods said that even though the city has invested $1.2 million in affordable housing for 325 rental units and 50 homes, ?we do not come close to meeting the needs of our cost-burdened residents nor addressing our extraordinary increase in unsheltered individuals.?

?That only scratches the surface,? he said. ?We need additional support from the federal government.?

Sen. Tina Smith, a Minnesota Democrat, asked Woods how much housing his city needed.

He said that Tempe would require 11,000 units of housing by 2040 to keep pace with the current demand.

Negotiations continued Tuesday over an infrastructure deal, with a bipartisan agreement among 10 senators in trouble after opposition was voiced by progressives including Senate Budget Chairman Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, POLITICO reported.

At the hearing, Republicans said they were hesitant to include housing as part of infrastructure legislation.

The top Republican on the committee, Sen. Pat Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican, said that instead of spending additional money for affordable housing, he would rather repurpose unused COVID-19 relief funds for ?real physical infrastructure.?

?It means things like roads, bridges, ports and airports,? he said. ?Housing is not infrastructure. Housing is housing.?

Horrigan, the mayor from Ohio, disagreed and argued that housing is critical infrastructure.

?All other infrastructure?water meters, roads, electrical lines, broadband fiber, sewers?ultimately connect to houses,? he said in his opening statement.

Senate Banking Chairman Sherrod Brown said that he was concerned that affordable housing is becoming out of reach for families.

Brown, an Ohio Democrat, said that mayors could help Congress understand what infrastructure those cities need, such as transportation, replacement of lead pipes and broadband, in order to ?revitalize a neglected neighborhood and bring new residents and customers to Main Street.?

?These issues all intersect?and while they may look different in Bozeman and Akron and Tempe, we know they are national problems,? he said in his opening statement. ?Mayors and city councils and county commissions can do a lot of good ? but they can?t do it all on their own.

Josh Parsons, a commissioner from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, objected to any funds from Congress? transportation bill spent on anything unrelated to infrastructure. He suggested, like Toomey, that any leftover funds from the COVID-19 relief packages be used instead.

?There has already been a huge amount of money that has been allocated,? he said, adding that Treasury guidance has forbidden use of the relief package money for infrastructure. The Treasury Department does allow states to use some COVID-19 relief funds for broadband infrastructure.

Sen. Jon Tester, a Montana Democrat, said that while ?nobody likes wasteful spending,? people in his state who have lived there for generations are struggling to find affordable housing ?because quite frankly the cost of homes is so damn high.?

?The bottom line is that if you don?t have places for people to live, you don?t have a manufacturing base, you don?t have the ability for businesses to expand,? he said.

===

A field of coal is seen near the Gavin Power Plant on September 11, 2019 in Cheshire, Ohio. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)

U.S. House panel probes slow cleanup of ?exploited? coal mining sites

By Jacob Fischler

A U.S. House Natural Resources subcommittee examined the cleanup needs for regions transitioning away from coal production Tuesday, with witnesses representing coal workers and Native American communities saying energy companies should be responsible for returning the land to its pre-mining state.

Much of the conversation at the Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee hearing centered on the concept of  ?environmental justice? and the restoration of mining sites, including at recently closed coal production locations in Navajo Nation in Northern Arizona.

?These communities, and especially Indian Country, have been really exploited,? subcommittee Chairman Alan Lowenthal, (D-Calif.), said. ?It?s a really horrible, horrible situation.?

But Republicans on the panel criticized opposition to fossil fuels as ?job killing,? and said the shift to cleaner energy sources has resulted in employment losses and a hit to economic development in mining regions. Some Western states like Wyoming have been able to strike a balance between environmental protection and fossil fuel production, they said.

U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman, (D-Calif.), suggested Wyoming?s experience did not remove responsibility from ?deadbeat coal companies? that created ?very real burdens and hardship? for struggling communities.

Coal in decline

Coal use has declined by 46% since its peak in 2007, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, a U.S. Energy Department agency.

That decline has led to the industry abandoning mines, often without the cleanup required by federal law, said Mary Cromer, the deputy director of the Appalachian Citizens Law Center, a group that advocates for coal workers and others who live near mining sites.

?As coal declines, coal mining regulations are failing to keep up, and coal companies are increasingly abandoning their environmental obligations, leaving too little in bond money to cover reclamation costs,? she said. ?Coalfield communities worry they will be forever burdened with hazardous and unusable land and polluted streams.?

One particularly affected community is the Navajo Nation, home to the Kayenta and Black Mesa coal mines and the coal-powered Navajo Generating Station that closed in 2019.

Navajo people bore the brunt of the job losses when those sites closed in 2019, as well as the environmental degradation from decades of mining that still hasn?t been mitigated, said Nicole Horseherder, the executive director of the Arizona-based Native American environmental group Tó Nizhóní Ání.

Mining ?scarred? Navajo land and polluted the local water supply, she said. Leases require Peabody Western Energy, the operator of the Northern Arizona mines and plant, to return the land to the same quality it was before mining, but the company hasn?t met that standard and the federal government has done little to force the company, she said.

Congress should ?require a significant mine permit revision? before renewing permits for companies like Peabody to force them to complete cleanup, Horseherder said.

Republicans said federal bureaucracy can slow the process of mine reclamation and held up Wyoming as an example of success.

The state?s coal mines are managed ?in a manner that protects the state and provides for responsible coal resource development,? Kyle Wendtland, the administrator of the Wyoming Land Quality Division, testified.

The state annually revises the bonds mining companies pay to ensure there is enough money to reclaim an abandoned mine.

Jobs in mining

Members of both parties agreed closings of coal plants have had painful economic consequences for some areas, but disagreed about what to do about it.

Republicans blamed Democratic policies discouraging fossil fuels for closing the Navajo Generating Station and other sites across the country.

Putting coal plants out of business was unfair to tribes because it took away jobs and cheap energy and made tribes responsible for the global issue of climate change, Republicans said.

Reclamation and cleanup could provide job opportunities for miners and other workers affected by the decline of coal, Horseherder said, echoing a component of the ?just transition? away from fossil fuels that President Joe Biden and others have promoted to help displaced workers find new employment.

But Republicans argued that was insufficient.

The subcommittee?s ranking Republican, Pete Stauber, said the average salary for the mostly Navajo workforce in the mines of Kayenta was north of $100,000. The jobs paid much better and lasted longer than the temporary jobs of a cleanup project, he said.

?Is losing hundreds and hundreds of union, Native American jobs with an average salary of $117,000 per year part of a just transition?? asked Stauber, who represents a mining region in Northern Minnesota.

Fossil fuel production and environmental protection can co-exist, several Republican members said.

Other witnesses called on the federal government to establish better safeguards to ensure that mining companies pay for cleaning up abandoned mines.

Joseph G. Pizarchik, the director of the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement during the Obama administration, called on Congress to ban self-bonds. Self-bonds allow companies to offer only a promise to reclaim the site without a separate upfront payment to ensure the funding is available. Pizarchik called self-bonds ?essentially no bond at all.?

?It is clear that the regulations that govern the use and replacement of self-bonds do not work and cannot be fixed,? he said.

Rep. Diana DeGette, (D-Colo.), praised her state?s Office of Justice Transition, a Department of Labor and Employment agency that provides resources to displaced coal workers, and asked if a federal equivalent would be helpful.

?That would be tremendously helpful,? Horseherder answered.

Cromer said there are several strategies lawmakers should pursue to keep job losses to a minimum. The problem was too large, she said, for any single policy to be enough.

?Because our region has been so dependent on this one industry for so long?and that historically has provided high-wage jobs?there?s no one idea, there?s no one business that?s going to be able to come in and make sure that that transition occurs,? she said.

Laura Olson, Ariana Figueroa and Jacob Fischler cover Washington for the States Newsroom network of which NC Policy Watch is a member.



originally published at http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ncpolicywatch.com%2F2021%2F06%2F16%2Fcongressional-update-far-right-attacks-fauci-committees-dig-into-affordable-housing-crisis-future-of-coal-communities%2F by Staff

The post Congressional update: Far right attacks Fauci; committees dig into affordable housing crisis, future of coal communities first appeared on North Carolina Chronicle.

) [summary] =>
Congressional update: Far right attacks Fauci; committees dig into affordable housing crisis, future of coal communities

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) speaks at a news conference on the ?Fire Fauci Act? on Capitol Hill on June 15, 2021 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images) Marjorie Taylor Greene in new attack on Fauci demands his salary be stripped By Laura Olson WASHINGTON ? U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia […]

The post Congressional update: Far right attacks Fauci; committees dig into affordable housing crisis, future of coal communities first appeared on North Carolina Chronicle.

[atom_content] =>
Congressional update: Far right attacks Fauci; committees dig into affordable housing crisis, future of coal communities

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) speaks at a news conference on the ?Fire Fauci Act? on Capitol Hill on June 15, 2021 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Marjorie Taylor Greene in new attack on Fauci demands his salary be stripped

By Laura Olson

WASHINGTON ? U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia on Tuesday led a group of House Republicans calling for the firing of Dr. Anthony Fauci, formalizing their intense criticism of his public statements and actions throughout the coronavirus pandemic into legislation.

Those GOP lawmakers can?t actually oust Fauci from his post as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a top Biden administration adviser. Instead, the bill led by Greene would eliminate his federal salary, which was more than $417,000 in 2019.

?Dr. Fauci was not elected by the American people. He was not chosen to guide our economy. He was not chosen to rule over parents and their children?s education,? Greene said. ?But yet, Dr. Fauci very much controlled our lives for this past year.?

Greene was joined at the news conference by Republican cosponsors of her legislation, including Reps. Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar, of Arizona; Buddy Carter, of Georgia; and Bob Good, of Virginia.

Their bill has no likelihood of passage in the House, which is controlled by Democrats, but the event gave Greene and other conservatives another chance to attack Fauci, who became the face of the federal government?s response to COVID-19.

They accused him of misleading the public by shifting his guidance on mask-wearing and details of how the virus is transmitted ? even though he and other leading scientists have defended the updates to those recommendations as the expected result of learning more about a brand-new health threat.

?As a scientist, as a health official, when those data change, when you get more information, it?s essential that you change your position because you have to be guided by the science and the current data,? Fauci said in a recent interview with MSNBC?s Chuck Todd.

Fauci has been a political lightning rod throughout the pandemic, with liberals praising the charismatic public health official and Republicans demonizing him as the Trump administration struggled to contain the virus, at times taking actions counter to Fauci?s counsel.

Those attacks against Fauci have renewed amid the release of thousands of pages of Fauci?s work emails throughout the pandemic, which were acquired by BuzzFeed and the Washington Post via Freedom of Information Act requests.

?He?s an actor, and deserves an Academy Award for best dramatic acting in a pandemic,? Gosar said of Fauci.

Gosar accused Fauci of knowing that the virus causing COVID-19 originated in a lab in Wuhan, China. But Fauci?s emails have not shown that to be the case, and broader evidence remains inconclusive as to the virus? precise origins.

Others focused on the lockdowns that affected U.S. schools and businesses last year, with Good blaming Fauci for ?ridiculous policies that locked down our churches and small businesses.?

The White House has made clear that it is standing with Fauci, with President Joe Biden saying recently that he is ?very confident? in Fauci?s ability to do his job.

The GOP news conference came a day after Greene sought to tamp down a wave of criticism she has faced for repeatedly using Holocaust comparisons to criticize face-mask mandates that have been enacted amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Those statements drew a rebuke from Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), and the prospect of a censure by the U.S. House. On Monday, Greene visited the Holocaust Memorial Museum in D.C., and afterward acknowledged to reporters that some of her past comments were ?offensive? and ?hurtful.?

?There is no comparison to the Holocaust,? Greene said Monday evening.

Greene was stripped earlier this year of her committee assignments for her past social media postings in which she supported violence against Democratic leaders and lawmakers.

===

For businesses to retain talented workers and for their communities to grow, the mayors say they need help from the federal government to invest in affordable housing. (Image: Adobe Stock)

Mayors of U.S. cities plead for federal funds to alleviate housing crisis

By Ariana Figueroa

WASHINGTON?The mayors of cities in Ohio, Montana and Arizona stressed the need for affordable housing to be included in any congressional infrastructure package during a Tuesday hearing before the U.S. Senate Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs Committee.

Mayors Daniel Horrigan of Akron, Ohio, Cyndy Andrus of Bozeman, Mont., and Corey Woods of Tempe, Ariz., all said that their cities are facing a housing crisis. For businesses to retain talented workers and for their communities to grow, they need help from the federal government to invest in affordable housing, they said.

?Housing is the basic building block of a community,? Andrus said in her opening statement. ?Why build all that infrastructure if no one can afford to live in the community??

She added that the median price for a single-family home in April in Bozeman was $660,000 ?a 50% increase within a year. She said a similar increase is being seen with town homes and apartments.

Woods said that homeownership in Tempe is out of reach for many residents, which has led to a high number of renters. He said 42% of them are ?cost burdened??meaning those households pay more than 30% of their gross income in rent.

Woods said that even though the city has invested $1.2 million in affordable housing for 325 rental units and 50 homes, ?we do not come close to meeting the needs of our cost-burdened residents nor addressing our extraordinary increase in unsheltered individuals.?

?That only scratches the surface,? he said. ?We need additional support from the federal government.?

Sen. Tina Smith, a Minnesota Democrat, asked Woods how much housing his city needed.

He said that Tempe would require 11,000 units of housing by 2040 to keep pace with the current demand.

Negotiations continued Tuesday over an infrastructure deal, with a bipartisan agreement among 10 senators in trouble after opposition was voiced by progressives including Senate Budget Chairman Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, POLITICO reported.

At the hearing, Republicans said they were hesitant to include housing as part of infrastructure legislation.

The top Republican on the committee, Sen. Pat Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican, said that instead of spending additional money for affordable housing, he would rather repurpose unused COVID-19 relief funds for ?real physical infrastructure.?

?It means things like roads, bridges, ports and airports,? he said. ?Housing is not infrastructure. Housing is housing.?

Horrigan, the mayor from Ohio, disagreed and argued that housing is critical infrastructure.

?All other infrastructure?water meters, roads, electrical lines, broadband fiber, sewers?ultimately connect to houses,? he said in his opening statement.

Senate Banking Chairman Sherrod Brown said that he was concerned that affordable housing is becoming out of reach for families.

Brown, an Ohio Democrat, said that mayors could help Congress understand what infrastructure those cities need, such as transportation, replacement of lead pipes and broadband, in order to ?revitalize a neglected neighborhood and bring new residents and customers to Main Street.?

?These issues all intersect?and while they may look different in Bozeman and Akron and Tempe, we know they are national problems,? he said in his opening statement. ?Mayors and city councils and county commissions can do a lot of good ? but they can?t do it all on their own.

Josh Parsons, a commissioner from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, objected to any funds from Congress? transportation bill spent on anything unrelated to infrastructure. He suggested, like Toomey, that any leftover funds from the COVID-19 relief packages be used instead.

?There has already been a huge amount of money that has been allocated,? he said, adding that Treasury guidance has forbidden use of the relief package money for infrastructure. The Treasury Department does allow states to use some COVID-19 relief funds for broadband infrastructure.

Sen. Jon Tester, a Montana Democrat, said that while ?nobody likes wasteful spending,? people in his state who have lived there for generations are struggling to find affordable housing ?because quite frankly the cost of homes is so damn high.?

?The bottom line is that if you don?t have places for people to live, you don?t have a manufacturing base, you don?t have the ability for businesses to expand,? he said.

===

A field of coal is seen near the Gavin Power Plant on September 11, 2019 in Cheshire, Ohio. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)

U.S. House panel probes slow cleanup of ?exploited? coal mining sites

By Jacob Fischler

A U.S. House Natural Resources subcommittee examined the cleanup needs for regions transitioning away from coal production Tuesday, with witnesses representing coal workers and Native American communities saying energy companies should be responsible for returning the land to its pre-mining state.

Much of the conversation at the Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee hearing centered on the concept of  ?environmental justice? and the restoration of mining sites, including at recently closed coal production locations in Navajo Nation in Northern Arizona.

?These communities, and especially Indian Country, have been really exploited,? subcommittee Chairman Alan Lowenthal, (D-Calif.), said. ?It?s a really horrible, horrible situation.?

But Republicans on the panel criticized opposition to fossil fuels as ?job killing,? and said the shift to cleaner energy sources has resulted in employment losses and a hit to economic development in mining regions. Some Western states like Wyoming have been able to strike a balance between environmental protection and fossil fuel production, they said.

U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman, (D-Calif.), suggested Wyoming?s experience did not remove responsibility from ?deadbeat coal companies? that created ?very real burdens and hardship? for struggling communities.

Coal in decline

Coal use has declined by 46% since its peak in 2007, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, a U.S. Energy Department agency.

That decline has led to the industry abandoning mines, often without the cleanup required by federal law, said Mary Cromer, the deputy director of the Appalachian Citizens Law Center, a group that advocates for coal workers and others who live near mining sites.

?As coal declines, coal mining regulations are failing to keep up, and coal companies are increasingly abandoning their environmental obligations, leaving too little in bond money to cover reclamation costs,? she said. ?Coalfield communities worry they will be forever burdened with hazardous and unusable land and polluted streams.?

One particularly affected community is the Navajo Nation, home to the Kayenta and Black Mesa coal mines and the coal-powered Navajo Generating Station that closed in 2019.

Navajo people bore the brunt of the job losses when those sites closed in 2019, as well as the environmental degradation from decades of mining that still hasn?t been mitigated, said Nicole Horseherder, the executive director of the Arizona-based Native American environmental group Tó Nizhóní Ání.

Mining ?scarred? Navajo land and polluted the local water supply, she said. Leases require Peabody Western Energy, the operator of the Northern Arizona mines and plant, to return the land to the same quality it was before mining, but the company hasn?t met that standard and the federal government has done little to force the company, she said.

Congress should ?require a significant mine permit revision? before renewing permits for companies like Peabody to force them to complete cleanup, Horseherder said.

Republicans said federal bureaucracy can slow the process of mine reclamation and held up Wyoming as an example of success.

The state?s coal mines are managed ?in a manner that protects the state and provides for responsible coal resource development,? Kyle Wendtland, the administrator of the Wyoming Land Quality Division, testified.

The state annually revises the bonds mining companies pay to ensure there is enough money to reclaim an abandoned mine.

Jobs in mining

Members of both parties agreed closings of coal plants have had painful economic consequences for some areas, but disagreed about what to do about it.

Republicans blamed Democratic policies discouraging fossil fuels for closing the Navajo Generating Station and other sites across the country.

Putting coal plants out of business was unfair to tribes because it took away jobs and cheap energy and made tribes responsible for the global issue of climate change, Republicans said.

Reclamation and cleanup could provide job opportunities for miners and other workers affected by the decline of coal, Horseherder said, echoing a component of the ?just transition? away from fossil fuels that President Joe Biden and others have promoted to help displaced workers find new employment.

But Republicans argued that was insufficient.

The subcommittee?s ranking Republican, Pete Stauber, said the average salary for the mostly Navajo workforce in the mines of Kayenta was north of $100,000. The jobs paid much better and lasted longer than the temporary jobs of a cleanup project, he said.

?Is losing hundreds and hundreds of union, Native American jobs with an average salary of $117,000 per year part of a just transition?? asked Stauber, who represents a mining region in Northern Minnesota.

Fossil fuel production and environmental protection can co-exist, several Republican members said.

Other witnesses called on the federal government to establish better safeguards to ensure that mining companies pay for cleaning up abandoned mines.

Joseph G. Pizarchik, the director of the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement during the Obama administration, called on Congress to ban self-bonds. Self-bonds allow companies to offer only a promise to reclaim the site without a separate upfront payment to ensure the funding is available. Pizarchik called self-bonds ?essentially no bond at all.?

?It is clear that the regulations that govern the use and replacement of self-bonds do not work and cannot be fixed,? he said.

Rep. Diana DeGette, (D-Colo.), praised her state?s Office of Justice Transition, a Department of Labor and Employment agency that provides resources to displaced coal workers, and asked if a federal equivalent would be helpful.

?That would be tremendously helpful,? Horseherder answered.

Cromer said there are several strategies lawmakers should pursue to keep job losses to a minimum. The problem was too large, she said, for any single policy to be enough.

?Because our region has been so dependent on this one industry for so long?and that historically has provided high-wage jobs?there?s no one idea, there?s no one business that?s going to be able to come in and make sure that that transition occurs,? she said.

Laura Olson, Ariana Figueroa and Jacob Fischler cover Washington for the States Newsroom network of which NC Policy Watch is a member.



originally published at http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ncpolicywatch.com%2F2021%2F06%2F16%2Fcongressional-update-far-right-attacks-fauci-committees-dig-into-affordable-housing-crisis-future-of-coal-communities%2F by Staff

The post Congressional update: Far right attacks Fauci; committees dig into affordable housing crisis, future of coal communities first appeared on North Carolina Chronicle.

[date_timestamp] => 1624234719 ) [5] => Array ( [title] => As climate emergency grows more urgent, Duke Energy seeks to supersize CO2 pollution [link] => https://nocarolinachronicle.com/as-climate-emergency-grows-more-urgent-duke-energy-seeks-to-supersize-co2-pollution/ [dc] => Array ( [creator] => Bill Moran ) [pubdate] => Mon, 21 Jun 2021 00:16:45 +0000 [category] => News [guid] => https://nocarolinachronicle.com/?p=8683 [description] =>
As climate emergency grows more urgent, Duke Energy seeks to supersize CO2 pollution

Image: Adobe Stock Energy giant must halt planned fossil fuel expansion, aggressively embrace renewable energy, storage, conservation North Carolina?and the world?are well into the climate emergency. United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres recently stated that the world ?is on the verge of the abyss? if we do not move at lightning pace to decarbonize our […]

The post As climate emergency grows more urgent, Duke Energy seeks to supersize CO2 pollution first appeared on North Carolina Chronicle.

[content] => Array ( [encoded] =>
As climate emergency grows more urgent, Duke Energy seeks to supersize CO2 pollution

Image: Adobe Stock

Energy giant must halt planned fossil fuel expansion, aggressively embrace renewable energy, storage, conservation

North Carolina?and the world?are well into the climate emergency. United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres recently stated that the world ?is on the verge of the abyss? if we do not move at lightning pace to decarbonize our economies by 2030. President Biden has pledged to slash emissions by at least 50% below 2005 levels, committing to a zero-carbon electricity grid by 2035.

Yet amid top-down policy mandates to stop the planet?s plummet off the climate cliff, Duke Energy, which ranks as the worst climate offender among U.S. power providers, is aggressively driving us all toward that cliff even as climate disasters increasingly devastate communities in the Carolinas.

Duke is pressing for the North Carolina Utilities Commission to approve a 15-year plan that vastly expands the Charlotte-based corporation?s addiction to fossil fuels. Specifically, Duke is seeking to build 9,600 megawatts of gas-fired generation?over 50 units?at an unspecified number of new or existing sites in the Carolinas. And Duke would build more than twice as much new gas as any other U.S. power provider is planning over the next 10 years.

The plan also shows Duke burning coal for decades while continuing to slow-walk solar, wind and energy-saving programs which, when matched with energy storage technologies, are vital to the country?s just transition to affordable and disaster-resilient renewable energy.

This story gets worse. Data from our joint legal challenge to the 15-year plan show that Duke wants the new, climate-wrecking gas units, although dozens of similar Duke units sit unused even during the worst winter and summer weather.

In fact, our engineer?s analysis shows that Duke leaders provided misleading data to the Utilities Commission and public. The false implication is that we?re all going to somehow freeze in the dark if Duke doesn?t keep building billion-dollar power plants that will constantly raise our power bills.

North Carolinians must demand a major course correction.

Our organizations are among a solid front of energy justice advocates calling for Duke Energy to abandon its massive gas expansion and help North Carolina move to renewables paired with storage and energy-saving programs. Business groups and Attorney General Josh Stein are also calling to prioritize the renewable approach.

Increasingly, the nation?s electric utilities are choosing renewables-plus-storage because it beats new gas on economics, affordability, climate resilience, and job creation. We have shown the Commission that it would be less expensive to add battery storage at existing solar farms than for Duke to build its proposed 50-plus fracked-gas units and keep coal-burning plants open.

Renewables with storage are key to phasing out dirty power. But our best chance to avert runaway climate chaos, protect power bills and minimize the impacts of raw material extraction comes by also ramping up proven, energy-saving programs. Here, too, Duke has been weak for years.

A foundational duty of the Commission is to protect the public interest by preventing monopoly utilities from over-building power plants and unnecessarily charging ratepayers. That?s particularly critical because greenhouse gas regulation and Duke?s own climate pledge would require most of those gas units to close years ahead of schedule, leaving the public to pay billions for stranded assets.

In urging Gov. Cooper to issue a moratorium against new ?natural? gas infrastructure, Duke University climate expert Drew Shindell rightly notes that expanding gas clashes with global climate goals. In a recent oped, the globally prominent scientist wrote that ?cutting methane is the strongest lever we have to slow climate change over the next 25 years.?

Despite the odds, public voices sometimes prevail over corporate money. Regulators in Virginia and South Carolina recently rejected utilities? dirty power plans. Polls show that North Carolinians, right and left, want more renewable power and fewer rate hikes. Now is the time to use our voices to offset Duke Energy?s corporate clout.

As Duke Energy?s 15-year plan is under consideration, we encourage North Carolinians to urge the Utilities Commission and Gov. Cooper to avoid constant rate hikes for unneeded gas-fired plants and help slow the climate crisis that?s devastating the most vulnerable North Carolinians.

[Editor?s note: Click here to read NC WARN?s response to yesterday?s announcement that state lawmakers and Duke Energy have come together on a proposed and far reaching bill on the subject of coal-fired power plants and reducing carbon emissions.]

Jean Su is the energy justice director and an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity

Jim Warren is executive director of NC WARN, a Durham-based nonprofit.



originally published at http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ncpolicywatch.com%2F2021%2F06%2F16%2Fas-climate-emergency-grows-more-urgent-duke-energy-seeks-to-supersize-co2-pollution%2F by Jean Su and Jim Warren

The post As climate emergency grows more urgent, Duke Energy seeks to supersize CO2 pollution first appeared on North Carolina Chronicle.

) [summary] =>
As climate emergency grows more urgent, Duke Energy seeks to supersize CO2 pollution

Image: Adobe Stock Energy giant must halt planned fossil fuel expansion, aggressively embrace renewable energy, storage, conservation North Carolina?and the world?are well into the climate emergency. United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres recently stated that the world ?is on the verge of the abyss? if we do not move at lightning pace to decarbonize our […]

The post As climate emergency grows more urgent, Duke Energy seeks to supersize CO2 pollution first appeared on North Carolina Chronicle.

[atom_content] =>
As climate emergency grows more urgent, Duke Energy seeks to supersize CO2 pollution

Image: Adobe Stock

Energy giant must halt planned fossil fuel expansion, aggressively embrace renewable energy, storage, conservation

North Carolina?and the world?are well into the climate emergency. United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres recently stated that the world ?is on the verge of the abyss? if we do not move at lightning pace to decarbonize our economies by 2030. President Biden has pledged to slash emissions by at least 50% below 2005 levels, committing to a zero-carbon electricity grid by 2035.

Yet amid top-down policy mandates to stop the planet?s plummet off the climate cliff, Duke Energy, which ranks as the worst climate offender among U.S. power providers, is aggressively driving us all toward that cliff even as climate disasters increasingly devastate communities in the Carolinas.

Duke is pressing for the North Carolina Utilities Commission to approve a 15-year plan that vastly expands the Charlotte-based corporation?s addiction to fossil fuels. Specifically, Duke is seeking to build 9,600 megawatts of gas-fired generation?over 50 units?at an unspecified number of new or existing sites in the Carolinas. And Duke would build more than twice as much new gas as any other U.S. power provider is planning over the next 10 years.

The plan also shows Duke burning coal for decades while continuing to slow-walk solar, wind and energy-saving programs which, when matched with energy storage technologies, are vital to the country?s just transition to affordable and disaster-resilient renewable energy.

This story gets worse. Data from our joint legal challenge to the 15-year plan show that Duke wants the new, climate-wrecking gas units, although dozens of similar Duke units sit unused even during the worst winter and summer weather.

In fact, our engineer?s analysis shows that Duke leaders provided misleading data to the Utilities Commission and public. The false implication is that we?re all going to somehow freeze in the dark if Duke doesn?t keep building billion-dollar power plants that will constantly raise our power bills.

North Carolinians must demand a major course correction.

Our organizations are among a solid front of energy justice advocates calling for Duke Energy to abandon its massive gas expansion and help North Carolina move to renewables paired with storage and energy-saving programs. Business groups and Attorney General Josh Stein are also calling to prioritize the renewable approach.

Increasingly, the nation?s electric utilities are choosing renewables-plus-storage because it beats new gas on economics, affordability, climate resilience, and job creation. We have shown the Commission that it would be less expensive to add battery storage at existing solar farms than for Duke to build its proposed 50-plus fracked-gas units and keep coal-burning plants open.

Renewables with storage are key to phasing out dirty power. But our best chance to avert runaway climate chaos, protect power bills and minimize the impacts of raw material extraction comes by also ramping up proven, energy-saving programs. Here, too, Duke has been weak for years.

A foundational duty of the Commission is to protect the public interest by preventing monopoly utilities from over-building power plants and unnecessarily charging ratepayers. That?s particularly critical because greenhouse gas regulation and Duke?s own climate pledge would require most of those gas units to close years ahead of schedule, leaving the public to pay billions for stranded assets.

In urging Gov. Cooper to issue a moratorium against new ?natural? gas infrastructure, Duke University climate expert Drew Shindell rightly notes that expanding gas clashes with global climate goals. In a recent oped, the globally prominent scientist wrote that ?cutting methane is the strongest lever we have to slow climate change over the next 25 years.?

Despite the odds, public voices sometimes prevail over corporate money. Regulators in Virginia and South Carolina recently rejected utilities? dirty power plans. Polls show that North Carolinians, right and left, want more renewable power and fewer rate hikes. Now is the time to use our voices to offset Duke Energy?s corporate clout.

As Duke Energy?s 15-year plan is under consideration, we encourage North Carolinians to urge the Utilities Commission and Gov. Cooper to avoid constant rate hikes for unneeded gas-fired plants and help slow the climate crisis that?s devastating the most vulnerable North Carolinians.

[Editor?s note: Click here to read NC WARN?s response to yesterday?s announcement that state lawmakers and Duke Energy have come together on a proposed and far reaching bill on the subject of coal-fired power plants and reducing carbon emissions.]

Jean Su is the energy justice director and an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity

Jim Warren is executive director of NC WARN, a Durham-based nonprofit.



originally published at http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ncpolicywatch.com%2F2021%2F06%2F16%2Fas-climate-emergency-grows-more-urgent-duke-energy-seeks-to-supersize-co2-pollution%2F by Jean Su and Jim Warren

The post As climate emergency grows more urgent, Duke Energy seeks to supersize CO2 pollution first appeared on North Carolina Chronicle.

[date_timestamp] => 1624234605 ) [6] => Array ( [title] => NC Department of Labor continues to resist workplace safety rules for COVID-19 [link] => https://nocarolinachronicle.com/nc-department-of-labor-continues-to-resist-workplace-safety-rules-for-covid-19/ [dc] => Array ( [creator] => Bill Moran ) [pubdate] => Mon, 21 Jun 2021 00:16:33 +0000 [category] => News [guid] => https://nocarolinachronicle.com/?p=8680 [description] =>
NC Department of Labor continues to resist workplace safety rules for COVID-19

WordCloud depicting most frequently used words in more than 2,100 OSHA complaints that have been investigated and found valid in North Carolina, data as current as May 21, 2021) Department is now required to adopt workplace standards for COVID for healthcare workers ? whether others will be covered remains in question The U.S. Department of […]

The post NC Department of Labor continues to resist workplace safety rules for COVID-19 first appeared on North Carolina Chronicle.

[content] => Array ( [encoded] =>
NC Department of Labor continues to resist workplace safety rules for COVID-19

WordCloud depicting most frequently used words in more than 2,100 OSHA complaints that have been investigated and found valid in North Carolina, data as current as May 21, 2021)

Department is now required to adopt workplace standards for COVID for healthcare workers ? whether others will be covered remains in question

The U.S. Department of Labor is adopting new emergency standards to protect healthcare workers from COVID, while its North Carolina counterpart has gone to court to defend its position that the potentially fatal disease is not a workplace hazard.

The new emergency federal rules require states to either pass more stringent standards specific to COVID or adopt the federal ones. It?s still uncertain how the N.C. Department of Labor will proceed.

If the DOL refuses to abide by the federal directive, it could be stripped of its state-plan status ? a change under which it would cede control of the program to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Jennifer Haigwood, DOL director of communications, said in an email that the agency is studying the federal rule and will respond within 15 days.

?Since taking office in January, Commissioner [Josh] Dobson?s position on this matter has been that we are awaiting action from federal OSHA and that he is prepared to adopt a proposed standard that works for North Carolina employees and employers,? Haigwood wrote. 

Fifteen months after the first OSHA complaint was filed in North Carolina, DOL still hasn?t enacted COVID-related health standards in the workplace.

DOL, which is currently responsible for enforcing safety standards in workplaces, also resisted an executive order proposed last year by Gov. Roy Cooper that would have increased COVID protections for migrant farmworkers and those in meat and poultry processing.

Cooper?s office backed down from issuing the executive order.

The agency argued there were no existing standards to enforce the rules. However, it also denied a petition filed by workers? rights groups to adopt COVID-specific standards. 

In a November 2020 letter denying the petition, former Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry said education, rather than enforcement, is more important. 

Asked by Policy Watch whether DOL has studied the effectiveness of its education campaign, the agency declined to comment, citing an ongoing lawsuit filed by workers rights? advocates. Those groups have sued DOL to compel the agency to go through the rulemaking process for COVID-related protections.

Berry had argued that COVID-19 is widespread and does not constitute a specific workplace hazard. She also falsely claimed most deaths occurred among people over 65 years old, whom she described as no longer in the workforce.

Attorney Clermont Fraser Ripley

Clermont Fraser Ripley, a staff attorney at North Carolina Justice Center said it?s irresponsible to brush off COVID as unrelated to workplaces. More than a quarter of the 91 workplace fatalities in North Carolina in 2020 were attributed to COVID, according to DOL data. Ripley also noted that some frontline employees work well beyond age 65.  

(Disclosure: The Justice Center, which represents the plaintiffs in the litigation, is the parent organization of NC Policy Watch.)

Dr. Zack Moore, a state epidemiologist with the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, said his department is collecting more data to study the spread of coronavirus in occupational settings. 

A Charlotte Observer review of death records found that more than 1,000 working-age North Carolinians died in 2020 from COVID-19. Health care, education, construction, food service, government and transportation led the death counts by industry.

?There are particular occupations, particular industries that are at higher risk,? Moore said. He added that the historically marginalized workers in these industries are disproportionately affected.

Moore said that many other measures can still help prevent communicable diseases besides COVID-19. For example, flexible personnel policies and paid sick leave discourage employees from working when they?re ill, which can spread disease. 

The workers? rights petitioners asked NCDOL to mandate employers to develop a ?COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan,? provide personal protective equipment and provide teleworking options or adopt measures to ensure physical distancing of workers. This includes staggered shifts and drive-through and delivery services.

North Carolina DHHS Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology Branch Chief Virginia Guidry said public health officials visited sites and held consultation sessions with employers, stressing the importance of disease prevention measures. This also included improving building ventilation.

However, she said, DHHS could provide only guidance. Enforcement is up to DOL.

Education over enforcement

Victoria Voight, special deputy attorney general at the N.C. Department of Justice

?Litigation enforcement is a last resort ? it?s a carrot and stick,? said Victoria Voight, a special deputy attorney general at the N.C. Department of Justice. ?The commissioner decided to emphasize the carrot, but then bring up the stick when she had no other choice.?

In response, Ripley said, ?I think when there is a deadly virus spreading in workplaces that the state wasn?t prepared for, that none of us were prepared for, that?s the time for the stick.?

However, as Policy Watch previously reported, enforcement was lacking. A Policy Watch review of cases found that for some poultry plants, workplace complaints to DOL did not trigger inspections that could have prevented deaths. And workers continued to file complaints against the same employers even after DOL investigated possible COVID-related deaths.

State records show that employers called workers back to the job even if they tested positive, and failed to sanitize the surfaces at the facility. Among the businesses listed in the complaints are major employers such as Lowe?s Home Centers and Tyson Foods.

Voight acknowledges some employers have been noncompliant in protecting their workers. However if DOL had enacted the standards proposed by the petitioners, she said, the agency ?would immediately have been sued. And it would have lost.?

The basis for Voight?s assessment is unclear, though former Commissioner Berry claimed at one point that adoption of a an enforceable rule would ?create conflicting interests? with the department?s educational efforts.

Unlike some other states, NCDOL has no internal board to vote on any proposed regular standards. The department does have the authority to enact emergency standards, but Berry chose not to.

Berry also argued that the governor would be exceeding his authority if he ordered DOL to enforce new standards. She wrote that such power belongs to the legislative branch.

The legislature, however, has apparently displayed little inclination in that direction. Haigwood, director of communications at DOL, said no state legislators have contacted the agency to propose any rulemaking changes to protect workers? safety during COVID.

Fourteen states have adopted comprehensive COVID worker safety protections by way of executive orders or safety standards, according to the National Employment Law Project. The Virginia Department of Labor made the temporary standards permanent earlier this year.

A Wake County Superior Court judge is expected to enter a ruling as to whether the state has to engage in rulemaking with plaintiffs.

Even though rulemaking can take as long as a year ? and vaccines are available ? some workers have yet to be vaccinated. COVID-related workplace complaints continue to be filed and found valid, according to federal OSHA data.

?Whether it?s COVID or some future virus, workers need OSHA to pass enforceable standards so that companies take steps to protect workers from airborne diseases,? said MaryBe McMillan, president of the NC State AFL-CIO.



originally published at http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ncpolicywatch.com%2F2021%2F06%2F17%2Fnc-department-of-labor-continues-to-resist-workplace-safety-rules-for-covid-19%2F by Yanqi Xu

The post NC Department of Labor continues to resist workplace safety rules for COVID-19 first appeared on North Carolina Chronicle.

) [summary] =>
NC Department of Labor continues to resist workplace safety rules for COVID-19

WordCloud depicting most frequently used words in more than 2,100 OSHA complaints that have been investigated and found valid in North Carolina, data as current as May 21, 2021) Department is now required to adopt workplace standards for COVID for healthcare workers ? whether others will be covered remains in question The U.S. Department of […]

The post NC Department of Labor continues to resist workplace safety rules for COVID-19 first appeared on North Carolina Chronicle.

[atom_content] =>
NC Department of Labor continues to resist workplace safety rules for COVID-19

WordCloud depicting most frequently used words in more than 2,100 OSHA complaints that have been investigated and found valid in North Carolina, data as current as May 21, 2021)

Department is now required to adopt workplace standards for COVID for healthcare workers ? whether others will be covered remains in question

The U.S. Department of Labor is adopting new emergency standards to protect healthcare workers from COVID, while its North Carolina counterpart has gone to court to defend its position that the potentially fatal disease is not a workplace hazard.

The new emergency federal rules require states to either pass more stringent standards specific to COVID or adopt the federal ones. It?s still uncertain how the N.C. Department of Labor will proceed.

If the DOL refuses to abide by the federal directive, it could be stripped of its state-plan status ? a change under which it would cede control of the program to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Jennifer Haigwood, DOL director of communications, said in an email that the agency is studying the federal rule and will respond within 15 days.

?Since taking office in January, Commissioner [Josh] Dobson?s position on this matter has been that we are awaiting action from federal OSHA and that he is prepared to adopt a proposed standard that works for North Carolina employees and employers,? Haigwood wrote. 

Fifteen months after the first OSHA complaint was filed in North Carolina, DOL still hasn?t enacted COVID-related health standards in the workplace.

DOL, which is currently responsible for enforcing safety standards in workplaces, also resisted an executive order proposed last year by Gov. Roy Cooper that would have increased COVID protections for migrant farmworkers and those in meat and poultry processing.

Cooper?s office backed down from issuing the executive order.

The agency argued there were no existing standards to enforce the rules. However, it also denied a petition filed by workers? rights groups to adopt COVID-specific standards. 

In a November 2020 letter denying the petition, former Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry said education, rather than enforcement, is more important. 

Asked by Policy Watch whether DOL has studied the effectiveness of its education campaign, the agency declined to comment, citing an ongoing lawsuit filed by workers rights? advocates. Those groups have sued DOL to compel the agency to go through the rulemaking process for COVID-related protections.

Berry had argued that COVID-19 is widespread and does not constitute a specific workplace hazard. She also falsely claimed most deaths occurred among people over 65 years old, whom she described as no longer in the workforce.

Attorney Clermont Fraser Ripley

Clermont Fraser Ripley, a staff attorney at North Carolina Justice Center said it?s irresponsible to brush off COVID as unrelated to workplaces. More than a quarter of the 91 workplace fatalities in North Carolina in 2020 were attributed to COVID, according to DOL data. Ripley also noted that some frontline employees work well beyond age 65.  

(Disclosure: The Justice Center, which represents the plaintiffs in the litigation, is the parent organization of NC Policy Watch.)

Dr. Zack Moore, a state epidemiologist with the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, said his department is collecting more data to study the spread of coronavirus in occupational settings. 

A Charlotte Observer review of death records found that more than 1,000 working-age North Carolinians died in 2020 from COVID-19. Health care, education, construction, food service, government and transportation led the death counts by industry.

?There are particular occupations, particular industries that are at higher risk,? Moore said. He added that the historically marginalized workers in these industries are disproportionately affected.

Moore said that many other measures can still help prevent communicable diseases besides COVID-19. For example, flexible personnel policies and paid sick leave discourage employees from working when they?re ill, which can spread disease. 

The workers? rights petitioners asked NCDOL to mandate employers to develop a ?COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan,? provide personal protective equipment and provide teleworking options or adopt measures to ensure physical distancing of workers. This includes staggered shifts and drive-through and delivery services.

North Carolina DHHS Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology Branch Chief Virginia Guidry said public health officials visited sites and held consultation sessions with employers, stressing the importance of disease prevention measures. This also included improving building ventilation.

However, she said, DHHS could provide only guidance. Enforcement is up to DOL.

Education over enforcement

Victoria Voight, special deputy attorney general at the N.C. Department of Justice

?Litigation enforcement is a last resort ? it?s a carrot and stick,? said Victoria Voight, a special deputy attorney general at the N.C. Department of Justice. ?The commissioner decided to emphasize the carrot, but then bring up the stick when she had no other choice.?

In response, Ripley said, ?I think when there is a deadly virus spreading in workplaces that the state wasn?t prepared for, that none of us were prepared for, that?s the time for the stick.?

However, as Policy Watch previously reported, enforcement was lacking. A Policy Watch review of cases found that for some poultry plants, workplace complaints to DOL did not trigger inspections that could have prevented deaths. And workers continued to file complaints against the same employers even after DOL investigated possible COVID-related deaths.

State records show that employers called workers back to the job even if they tested positive, and failed to sanitize the surfaces at the facility. Among the businesses listed in the complaints are major employers such as Lowe?s Home Centers and Tyson Foods.

Voight acknowledges some employers have been noncompliant in protecting their workers. However if DOL had enacted the standards proposed by the petitioners, she said, the agency ?would immediately have been sued. And it would have lost.?

The basis for Voight?s assessment is unclear, though former Commissioner Berry claimed at one point that adoption of a an enforceable rule would ?create conflicting interests? with the department?s educational efforts.

Unlike some other states, NCDOL has no internal board to vote on any proposed regular standards. The department does have the authority to enact emergency standards, but Berry chose not to.

Berry also argued that the governor would be exceeding his authority if he ordered DOL to enforce new standards. She wrote that such power belongs to the legislative branch.

The legislature, however, has apparently displayed little inclination in that direction. Haigwood, director of communications at DOL, said no state legislators have contacted the agency to propose any rulemaking changes to protect workers? safety during COVID.

Fourteen states have adopted comprehensive COVID worker safety protections by way of executive orders or safety standards, according to the National Employment Law Project. The Virginia Department of Labor made the temporary standards permanent earlier this year.

A Wake County Superior Court judge is expected to enter a ruling as to whether the state has to engage in rulemaking with plaintiffs.

Even though rulemaking can take as long as a year ? and vaccines are available ? some workers have yet to be vaccinated. COVID-related workplace complaints continue to be filed and found valid, according to federal OSHA data.

?Whether it?s COVID or some future virus, workers need OSHA to pass enforceable standards so that companies take steps to protect workers from airborne diseases,? said MaryBe McMillan, president of the NC State AFL-CIO.



originally published at http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ncpolicywatch.com%2F2021%2F06%2F17%2Fnc-department-of-labor-continues-to-resist-workplace-safety-rules-for-covid-19%2F by Yanqi Xu

The post NC Department of Labor continues to resist workplace safety rules for COVID-19 first appeared on North Carolina Chronicle.

[date_timestamp] => 1624234593 ) [7] => Array ( [title] => Chapel Hill student body president: It?s past time for a genuine reckoning at UNC [link] => https://nocarolinachronicle.com/chapel-hill-student-body-president-its-past-time-for-a-genuine-reckoning-at-unc/ [dc] => Array ( [creator] => Bill Moran ) [pubdate] => Mon, 21 Jun 2021 00:15:49 +0000 [category] => News [guid] => https://nocarolinachronicle.com/?p=8677 [description] =>
Chapel Hill student body president: It's past time for a genuine reckoning at UNC

In open letter to the UNC community, Lamar Richards says university is ill-prepared for needed change, urges marginalized community members to protect themselves from being tokenized Dear Carolina Community, When I arrived at the meeting venue on the morning of my swearing-in as a member of the UNC Board of Trustees, I pulled up to […]

The post Chapel Hill student body president: It's past time for a genuine reckoning at UNC first appeared on North Carolina Chronicle.

[content] => Array ( [encoded] =>
Chapel Hill student body president: It's past time for a genuine reckoning at UNC

In open letter to the UNC community, Lamar Richards says university is ill-prepared for needed change, urges marginalized community members to protect themselves from being tokenized

Dear Carolina Community,

When I arrived at the meeting venue on the morning of my swearing-in as a member of the UNC Board of Trustees, I pulled up to the valet and proceeded to exit my car ? at which point, the valet stopped me and said, ?Sir, this valet is for members and patrons only. Protestors are standing over there.?

Yes, I was in a full suit and tie. Yes, I had been elected Student Body President of our university earlier this year. And, yes, I was just moments away from being sworn in as a university trustee. The valet, however, still asked for my ID before walking inside to confirm that I was, in fact, who I said I was. I got out of my car, grabbed my briefcase, and headed inside.

But before I walked off, I stood and watched through the glass doors as other cars pulled in. One by one, as the valet opened car doors, individuals got out, nodded their heads, and headed into the building without a single word spoken. As I walked into the boardroom, it hit me: I was entering this space as one of the only people of color to serve as a trustee of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Ever since Black students were first allowed admission to our university, UNC has continually found itself entrenched in one scandalous situation after another. The Nikole Hannah-Jones controversy is just the most recent and glaring example of our university choosing to prioritize the demands of money and power, rather than its students, faculty, and staff.

Whether Nikole Hannah-Jones should be awarded tenure is a matter that the Board of Trustees should and must discuss, but I write to you today knowing that the longer this matter remains unresolved, the more difficult it becomes for this university to move forward.

But maybe that?s the point. Maybe this event will spur the reckoning our university has needed for far too long. Why should we move forward under the guise of  mere ?reform??

You cannot reform a system rooted in oppression, racism, and hatred. Tragically, the term ?reform? at this university continues to be used as a subtle tactic to oppress students, faculty, and staff?past, present, and future alike.

UNC has continually fallen short of meeting the challenge of serving each and every one of its students. Students of color must speak twice as loud just to be heard at the same volume; graduate students, especially those of color, are treated as modern-day servants, barely paid minimum wage; our staff and faculty of color are overworked and underpaid, treated like property.

The university often tries to paint a pretty picture of ?evolution?? a dynamic, forward-facing strategic plan one day, a new Chief Diversity Officer the next, and maybe the changing of a few building names the day after.

Let me be very clear: these actions do not and will not ultimately make a difference if racial oppression continues to flow through our university. To pursue or hope for ?reform? from this university is akin to requesting a bandage for a racial wound that is far too deep.

The sincerest thing I can share with each of you is that Carolina is not prepared. Carolina is not prepared for the ?reckoning? of which it continues to speak and it is certainly not prepared to face the reality of having to undo the entire system upon which it was built?and rebuild.

Until this rebirth occurs, Carolina is not deserving of your talents, aspirations, or successes. If you are a student, staff member, or academic from a historically marginalized identity exploring UNC, I invite you to look elsewhere. If you are considering graduate school, law school, medical school, or other professional programs at UNC, I challenge you to seek other options. While Carolina desperately needs your representation and cultural contributions, it will only bring you here to tokenize and exploit you. And to those that will attempt to misconstrue these words?my words?understand this: I love Carolina, yes, but I love my people and my community more.

And so in the days ahead, I invite and encourage you to pay close attention not only to who speaks?but who fails to speak. Pay close attention to how many times our university responds with an acknowledgment of uncertain and unparalleled times, asking how students ?feel? and what it can ?do? for students, before making decision and taking stances that are in direct opposition to student views, suggestions, and interests.

Most importantly, examine how Carolina shifts blame to other entities; then, analyze closely what decisions are made or are not made by our university and question why. The soul of our university is at stake?and Carolina is not prepared.

I urge you all: protect yourself. Protect your peace. Protect your wellness?and brace for reckoning.

Yours for Carolina?today, tomorrow, and always,

Lamar Gregory Richards
Student Body President
Trustee, UNC-CH Board of Trustees



originally published at http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ncpolicywatch.com%2F2021%2F06%2F17%2Fchapel-hill-student-body-president-its-past-time-for-a-genuine-reckoning-at-unc%2F by Lamar Richards

The post Chapel Hill student body president: It's past time for a genuine reckoning at UNC first appeared on North Carolina Chronicle.

) [summary] =>
Chapel Hill student body president: It's past time for a genuine reckoning at UNC

In open letter to the UNC community, Lamar Richards says university is ill-prepared for needed change, urges marginalized community members to protect themselves from being tokenized Dear Carolina Community, When I arrived at the meeting venue on the morning of my swearing-in as a member of the UNC Board of Trustees, I pulled up to […]

The post Chapel Hill student body president: It's past time for a genuine reckoning at UNC first appeared on North Carolina Chronicle.

[atom_content] =>
Chapel Hill student body president: It's past time for a genuine reckoning at UNC

In open letter to the UNC community, Lamar Richards says university is ill-prepared for needed change, urges marginalized community members to protect themselves from being tokenized

Dear Carolina Community,

When I arrived at the meeting venue on the morning of my swearing-in as a member of the UNC Board of Trustees, I pulled up to the valet and proceeded to exit my car ? at which point, the valet stopped me and said, ?Sir, this valet is for members and patrons only. Protestors are standing over there.?

Yes, I was in a full suit and tie. Yes, I had been elected Student Body President of our university earlier this year. And, yes, I was just moments away from being sworn in as a university trustee. The valet, however, still asked for my ID before walking inside to confirm that I was, in fact, who I said I was. I got out of my car, grabbed my briefcase, and headed inside.

But before I walked off, I stood and watched through the glass doors as other cars pulled in. One by one, as the valet opened car doors, individuals got out, nodded their heads, and headed into the building without a single word spoken. As I walked into the boardroom, it hit me: I was entering this space as one of the only people of color to serve as a trustee of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Ever since Black students were first allowed admission to our university, UNC has continually found itself entrenched in one scandalous situation after another. The Nikole Hannah-Jones controversy is just the most recent and glaring example of our university choosing to prioritize the demands of money and power, rather than its students, faculty, and staff.

Whether Nikole Hannah-Jones should be awarded tenure is a matter that the Board of Trustees should and must discuss, but I write to you today knowing that the longer this matter remains unresolved, the more difficult it becomes for this university to move forward.

But maybe that?s the point. Maybe this event will spur the reckoning our university has needed for far too long. Why should we move forward under the guise of  mere ?reform??

You cannot reform a system rooted in oppression, racism, and hatred. Tragically, the term ?reform? at this university continues to be used as a subtle tactic to oppress students, faculty, and staff?past, present, and future alike.

UNC has continually fallen short of meeting the challenge of serving each and every one of its students. Students of color must speak twice as loud just to be heard at the same volume; graduate students, especially those of color, are treated as modern-day servants, barely paid minimum wage; our staff and faculty of color are overworked and underpaid, treated like property.

The university often tries to paint a pretty picture of ?evolution?? a dynamic, forward-facing strategic plan one day, a new Chief Diversity Officer the next, and maybe the changing of a few building names the day after.

Let me be very clear: these actions do not and will not ultimately make a difference if racial oppression continues to flow through our university. To pursue or hope for ?reform? from this university is akin to requesting a bandage for a racial wound that is far too deep.

The sincerest thing I can share with each of you is that Carolina is not prepared. Carolina is not prepared for the ?reckoning? of which it continues to speak and it is certainly not prepared to face the reality of having to undo the entire system upon which it was built?and rebuild.

Until this rebirth occurs, Carolina is not deserving of your talents, aspirations, or successes. If you are a student, staff member, or academic from a historically marginalized identity exploring UNC, I invite you to look elsewhere. If you are considering graduate school, law school, medical school, or other professional programs at UNC, I challenge you to seek other options. While Carolina desperately needs your representation and cultural contributions, it will only bring you here to tokenize and exploit you. And to those that will attempt to misconstrue these words?my words?understand this: I love Carolina, yes, but I love my people and my community more.

And so in the days ahead, I invite and encourage you to pay close attention not only to who speaks?but who fails to speak. Pay close attention to how many times our university responds with an acknowledgment of uncertain and unparalleled times, asking how students ?feel? and what it can ?do? for students, before making decision and taking stances that are in direct opposition to student views, suggestions, and interests.

Most importantly, examine how Carolina shifts blame to other entities; then, analyze closely what decisions are made or are not made by our university and question why. The soul of our university is at stake?and Carolina is not prepared.

I urge you all: protect yourself. Protect your peace. Protect your wellness?and brace for reckoning.

Yours for Carolina?today, tomorrow, and always,

Lamar Gregory Richards
Student Body President
Trustee, UNC-CH Board of Trustees



originally published at http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ncpolicywatch.com%2F2021%2F06%2F17%2Fchapel-hill-student-body-president-its-past-time-for-a-genuine-reckoning-at-unc%2F by Lamar Richards

The post Chapel Hill student body president: It's past time for a genuine reckoning at UNC first appeared on North Carolina Chronicle.

[date_timestamp] => 1624234549 ) [8] => Array ( [title] => Once on the fast track, super-secret energy bill derailed over costs, nukes, and unproven claims [link] => https://nocarolinachronicle.com/once-on-the-fast-track-super-secret-energy-bill-derailed-over-costs-nukes-and-unproven-claims/ [dc] => Array ( [creator] => Bill Moran ) [pubdate] => Mon, 21 Jun 2021 00:15:06 +0000 [category] => News [guid] => https://nocarolinachronicle.com/?p=8674 [description] =>
Once on the fast track, super-secret energy bill derailed over costs, nukes, and unproven claims

Rep. John Szoka Rep. Dean Arp Rep. John Szoka says House Bill 951 ?is not perfect.? That, opponents say, is an understatement. For the past five months, the workings of a top secret energy group was so hush-hush that if someone was caught leaking information they would be expelled as an outcast and a pariah. […]

The post Once on the fast track, super-secret energy bill derailed over costs, nukes, and unproven claims first appeared on North Carolina Chronicle.

[content] => Array ( [encoded] =>
Once on the fast track, super-secret energy bill derailed over costs, nukes, and unproven claims

Rep. John Szoka
Rep. Dean Arp

Rep. John Szoka says House Bill 951 ?is not perfect.? That, opponents say, is an understatement.

For the past five months, the workings of a top secret energy group was so hush-hush that if someone was caught leaking information they would be expelled as an outcast and a pariah.

Lawmakers in the group, otherwise largely composed of business trade associations and Duke Energy, raised the curtain yesterday on their 47-page opus magnum, House Bill 951, at a meeting of the House Energy and Public Utilities Committee.

So publicly confident were they in the bill, that primary sponsors Reps. John Szoka (R-Cumberland) and Dean Arp, (R-Union) had planned to fast-track it, with a rush to the House floor before the end of the month.

?We?re minimizing environmental impacts and lowering our carbon footprint,? Arp said, at the House Energy Committee. ?We?re not picking winners or losers. We?re here for the people of North Carolina.?

The measure, Szoka proclaimed, ?would transform North Carolina?s energy future.?

The response from fellow lawmakers of both parties: suspicion.

Most of the major trade associations, including manufactures and textiles: skepticism, even outright opposition 

Environmental advocates: contempt.

?I believe in keeping our environment clean,? said Rep. Charles Graham (D-Robeson). ?But this bill has consequences, and I?m not sure what they are for our businesses, families and farmers.?

The bill contains several controversial provisions:

Some lawmakers and lobbyists took comfort in a few upsides. More than 5,500 megawatts of solar energy would be added to the grid, enough to power 750,000 to 1 million homes ? plus battery storage to dispatch that energy when the sun isn?t shining. 

A community solar garden program would allow customers to buy a portion of their energy from that source, which could be popular among those who can?t install rooftop systems on their homes or apartments.

 

Five coal-fired power plants would take early retirement: Allen, Marshall, Roxboro, Mayo and a unit at Cliffside. Marshall, which is in Catawba County, would convert to natural gas; Allen, in Gaston County, would use battery storage. The energy sources for the other three plants have yet to be determined, but Roxboro could rely on natural gas.

These retirements would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 61% by 2030, still short of Gov. Cooper?s clean energy goal of 70%.

Not part of the early retirements, two other coal-fired plants, Belews Creek and Cliffside 6, which would eventually convert to natural gas.

One of the bill?s guiding themes ? ?performance-based regulation? ? has several components. Notably, one encourages customers to use less energy by breaking the link between consumption and a utility?s revenues.

?This bill is the result of collaboration and compromise,? said Kendal Bowman, Duke Energy vice president of Regulatory Affairs and Policy. ?It holds the utility accountable, provides for cleaner energy sources. Without this legislation these programs would not be available for our customers.?

How much will this cost?

Yet, for all the legalese and utility jargon contained within the 47 pages, no one could say how much all of this would cost ratepayers. Until the public staff of the Utilities Commission crunches the numbers, the full cost of the bill to North Carolinians is unknown. 

Kevin O?Donnell, represents the Carolina Utility Customers Association, a trade group for industrial ratepayers. He estimated the cost increases would add up to 50% over 10 years, based on the bill?s allowance of 4% per year. 

?As the bill stands now, we urge you to vote ?no,?? said the association?s executive director, Kevin Martin.

Multi-year ratemaking allows the Utilities Commission to lock in customer costs for three years, rather than requiring Duke Energy and Dominion Energy to file annual rate cases. This type of ratemaking is supposed to prevent utilities from ?over-earning,? by refunding customers some amount of money if the utilities? earnings are higher than allowed by the Utilities Commission. But the converse is also true: If the utilities don?t hit their projections, they can charge ratepayers to compensate for the loss.

?There aren?t enough guardrails? on multiyear ratemaking, said Rep. Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford). ?We need to slow this process down. This is a complex bill, and we haven?t had time to digest it.?

Safety and viability of new nukes

The nuclear provision raises questions about cost and viability of that technology. The bill would allow Duke Energy to incur expenses of up to $50 million for an early site permit from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for siting of a small reactor at an undetermined location in North Carolina. 

The utility ?shall make reasonable efforts? to secure federal funding to offset site permit costs, but presumably ratepayers would ultimately have to cover the rest. And the cost of reactors themselves can run into the billions of dollars.

Under an early site permit, the NRC analyzes the appropriateness of a proposed site and emergency preparedness; it is not a construction permit. 

Small nuclear reactors are about a third of the size of a typical nuclear power plant. They are housed underground and can be built more quickly and cheaply than traditional reactors. 

Arp, responding to a lawmaker?s question about the technology, said, ?It?s proven and very safe.?

However, none of these small reactors currently operate in the U.S. NuScale, which builds the reactors, plans to deliver its first one to Utah in 2027. It?s not expected to go online until 2029. Even in its infancy that project has already come in well over budget ? from $3 billion to $6 billion, according to a 2020 article in Scientific American.

Opponents also question their safety, especially in areas prone to flooding and earthquakes, as well as the disposal of nuclear waste.

Scientific American also reported that the NRC itself had safety concerns. One engineer discussed ?boron dilution,? which means ?that even if a reactor is shut down, fission reactions could restart and begin a dangerous power increase.?

The magazine cited another report from the NRC?s Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards which noted that ?several potentially risk-significant items are not yet completed ?? The NRC plans to assess those concerns when licensing applications are submitted.

Putting the reins on the Utilities Commission 

The NC Utilities Commission is responsible for regulating electric utilities, such as Duke Energy and Dominion Energy. In enacting rules, the commission is required to balance the needs of customers with utilities? ability to earn a profit.

Arp contended that the commission retains ?its judicial nature,? under the bill. However,  the proposal would rein in some of the commission?s authority. It allows only one public hearing per coal retirement and replacement plan. It sets a time limit of six months for the Commission to decide on a plan, which considering the complexity of the issue, is not a long time. And it requires an ?expedited decision? of 90 days for the replacement energy sources.

?What is the Utilities Commission?s role?? asked Rep. Becky Carney (D-Mecklenburg). ?I want to make sure we?re not tying their hands in any way.?

State law already prohibits the Utilities Commission from considering climate change or public health in its decisions. ?I urge you to consider that,? Harrison said. ?We?re facing a different energy future than when the statute was drafted.?

In his opening remarks, Szoka acknowledged the measure?s shortcomings, seemingly to blunt the criticism he knew was coming: ?I view this as a non-hostile meeting,? he said. ??I?m not saying this bill is perfect.?

Over the two-and-half hour meeting, it became clear that House Bill 951 in its current form was dead on arrival. 

By Thursday night, the bill had been removed from the calendar of upcoming committee meetings. The fast track had been derailed.



originally published at http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ncpolicywatch.com%2F2021%2F06%2F18%2Fonce-on-the-fast-track-super-secret-energy-bill-derailed-over-costs-nukes-and-unproven-claims%2F by Lisa Sorg

The post Once on the fast track, super-secret energy bill derailed over costs, nukes, and unproven claims first appeared on North Carolina Chronicle.

) [summary] =>
Once on the fast track, super-secret energy bill derailed over costs, nukes, and unproven claims

Rep. John Szoka Rep. Dean Arp Rep. John Szoka says House Bill 951 ?is not perfect.? That, opponents say, is an understatement. For the past five months, the workings of a top secret energy group was so hush-hush that if someone was caught leaking information they would be expelled as an outcast and a pariah. […]

The post Once on the fast track, super-secret energy bill derailed over costs, nukes, and unproven claims first appeared on North Carolina Chronicle.

[atom_content] =>
Once on the fast track, super-secret energy bill derailed over costs, nukes, and unproven claims

Rep. John Szoka
Rep. Dean Arp

Rep. John Szoka says House Bill 951 ?is not perfect.? That, opponents say, is an understatement.

For the past five months, the workings of a top secret energy group was so hush-hush that if someone was caught leaking information they would be expelled as an outcast and a pariah.

Lawmakers in the group, otherwise largely composed of business trade associations and Duke Energy, raised the curtain yesterday on their 47-page opus magnum, House Bill 951, at a meeting of the House Energy and Public Utilities Committee.

So publicly confident were they in the bill, that primary sponsors Reps. John Szoka (R-Cumberland) and Dean Arp, (R-Union) had planned to fast-track it, with a rush to the House floor before the end of the month.

?We?re minimizing environmental impacts and lowering our carbon footprint,? Arp said, at the House Energy Committee. ?We?re not picking winners or losers. We?re here for the people of North Carolina.?

The measure, Szoka proclaimed, ?would transform North Carolina?s energy future.?

The response from fellow lawmakers of both parties: suspicion.

Most of the major trade associations, including manufactures and textiles: skepticism, even outright opposition 

Environmental advocates: contempt.

?I believe in keeping our environment clean,? said Rep. Charles Graham (D-Robeson). ?But this bill has consequences, and I?m not sure what they are for our businesses, families and farmers.?

The bill contains several controversial provisions:

Some lawmakers and lobbyists took comfort in a few upsides. More than 5,500 megawatts of solar energy would be added to the grid, enough to power 750,000 to 1 million homes ? plus battery storage to dispatch that energy when the sun isn?t shining. 

A community solar garden program would allow customers to buy a portion of their energy from that source, which could be popular among those who can?t install rooftop systems on their homes or apartments.

 

Five coal-fired power plants would take early retirement: Allen, Marshall, Roxboro, Mayo and a unit at Cliffside. Marshall, which is in Catawba County, would convert to natural gas; Allen, in Gaston County, would use battery storage. The energy sources for the other three plants have yet to be determined, but Roxboro could rely on natural gas.

These retirements would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 61% by 2030, still short of Gov. Cooper?s clean energy goal of 70%.

Not part of the early retirements, two other coal-fired plants, Belews Creek and Cliffside 6, which would eventually convert to natural gas.

One of the bill?s guiding themes ? ?performance-based regulation? ? has several components. Notably, one encourages customers to use less energy by breaking the link between consumption and a utility?s revenues.

?This bill is the result of collaboration and compromise,? said Kendal Bowman, Duke Energy vice president of Regulatory Affairs and Policy. ?It holds the utility accountable, provides for cleaner energy sources. Without this legislation these programs would not be available for our customers.?

How much will this cost?

Yet, for all the legalese and utility jargon contained within the 47 pages, no one could say how much all of this would cost ratepayers. Until the public staff of the Utilities Commission crunches the numbers, the full cost of the bill to North Carolinians is unknown. 

Kevin O?Donnell, represents the Carolina Utility Customers Association, a trade group for industrial ratepayers. He estimated the cost increases would add up to 50% over 10 years, based on the bill?s allowance of 4% per year. 

?As the bill stands now, we urge you to vote ?no,?? said the association?s executive director, Kevin Martin.

Multi-year ratemaking allows the Utilities Commission to lock in customer costs for three years, rather than requiring Duke Energy and Dominion Energy to file annual rate cases. This type of ratemaking is supposed to prevent utilities from ?over-earning,? by refunding customers some amount of money if the utilities? earnings are higher than allowed by the Utilities Commission. But the converse is also true: If the utilities don?t hit their projections, they can charge ratepayers to compensate for the loss.

?There aren?t enough guardrails? on multiyear ratemaking, said Rep. Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford). ?We need to slow this process down. This is a complex bill, and we haven?t had time to digest it.?

Safety and viability of new nukes

The nuclear provision raises questions about cost and viability of that technology. The bill would allow Duke Energy to incur expenses of up to $50 million for an early site permit from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for siting of a small reactor at an undetermined location in North Carolina. 

The utility ?shall make reasonable efforts? to secure federal funding to offset site permit costs, but presumably ratepayers would ultimately have to cover the rest. And the cost of reactors themselves can run into the billions of dollars.

Under an early site permit, the NRC analyzes the appropriateness of a proposed site and emergency preparedness; it is not a construction permit. 

Small nuclear reactors are about a third of the size of a typical nuclear power plant. They are housed underground and can be built more quickly and cheaply than traditional reactors. 

Arp, responding to a lawmaker?s question about the technology, said, ?It?s proven and very safe.?

However, none of these small reactors currently operate in the U.S. NuScale, which builds the reactors, plans to deliver its first one to Utah in 2027. It?s not expected to go online until 2029. Even in its infancy that project has already come in well over budget ? from $3 billion to $6 billion, according to a 2020 article in Scientific American.

Opponents also question their safety, especially in areas prone to flooding and earthquakes, as well as the disposal of nuclear waste.

Scientific American also reported that the NRC itself had safety concerns. One engineer discussed ?boron dilution,? which means ?that even if a reactor is shut down, fission reactions could restart and begin a dangerous power increase.?

The magazine cited another report from the NRC?s Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards which noted that ?several potentially risk-significant items are not yet completed ?? The NRC plans to assess those concerns when licensing applications are submitted.

Putting the reins on the Utilities Commission 

The NC Utilities Commission is responsible for regulating electric utilities, such as Duke Energy and Dominion Energy. In enacting rules, the commission is required to balance the needs of customers with utilities? ability to earn a profit.

Arp contended that the commission retains ?its judicial nature,? under the bill. However,  the proposal would rein in some of the commission?s authority. It allows only one public hearing per coal retirement and replacement plan. It sets a time limit of six months for the Commission to decide on a plan, which considering the complexity of the issue, is not a long time. And it requires an ?expedited decision? of 90 days for the replacement energy sources.

?What is the Utilities Commission?s role?? asked Rep. Becky Carney (D-Mecklenburg). ?I want to make sure we?re not tying their hands in any way.?

State law already prohibits the Utilities Commission from considering climate change or public health in its decisions. ?I urge you to consider that,? Harrison said. ?We?re facing a different energy future than when the statute was drafted.?

In his opening remarks, Szoka acknowledged the measure?s shortcomings, seemingly to blunt the criticism he knew was coming: ?I view this as a non-hostile meeting,? he said. ??I?m not saying this bill is perfect.?

Over the two-and-half hour meeting, it became clear that House Bill 951 in its current form was dead on arrival. 

By Thursday night, the bill had been removed from the calendar of upcoming committee meetings. The fast track had been derailed.



originally published at http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ncpolicywatch.com%2F2021%2F06%2F18%2Fonce-on-the-fast-track-super-secret-energy-bill-derailed-over-costs-nukes-and-unproven-claims%2F by Lisa Sorg

The post Once on the fast track, super-secret energy bill derailed over costs, nukes, and unproven claims first appeared on North Carolina Chronicle.

[date_timestamp] => 1624234506 ) [9] => Array ( [title] => LGTBQ center in Greensboro is open [link] => https://nocarolinachronicle.com/lgtbq-center-in-greensboro-is-open/ [dc] => Array ( [creator] => Bill Moran ) [pubdate] => Sun, 20 Jun 2021 22:32:40 +0000 [category] => Greensboro [guid] => https://nocarolinachronicle.com/?p=8670 [description] =>
LGTBQ center in Greensboro is open

GREENSBORO, NC – The first LGBTQ center in downtown Greensboro has reopened after being closed for over a year. The center moved to its new location on Greene Street in January 2020 and had to close shortly after it opened due to COVID-19. The center is now open and currently offers resources and programs on […]

The post LGTBQ center in Greensboro is open first appeared on North Carolina Chronicle.

[content] => Array ( [encoded] =>
LGTBQ center in Greensboro is open

GREENSBORO, NC – The first LGBTQ center in downtown Greensboro has reopened after being closed for over a year.

The center moved to its new location on Greene Street in January 2020 and had to close shortly after it opened due to COVID-19.

The center is now open and currently offers resources and programs on a wide range of topics, such as: Health care, knowledge of your legal rights, self-advocacy, aging and transgender issues.

What you need to know

The executive director of the Guilford Green Foundation and LGBTQ Center, Jennifer Ruppe, said it was great to have everyone back in the building.

?For many people, the community center, the LGBTQ center, may be the only place where they feel validated in their identity and feel safe or look for resources. Therefore, it was difficult for many people not to have access to this room during the pandemic, “said Ruppe.

That was the case with Sophie Carson and her boyfriend James Kirland. The two are high school students in Guilford County and both are part of the LGBTQ Center’s youth program.

They feel like the center is one of the few places where they can be themselves without being bullied.

“I’m the president of my school, GSA, the Gay Straight Alliance, so I’m very open about my school and there are a lot of derogatory comments,” Carson said.

“I received death threats for coming out of my school as a trans man,” added Kirklanded.

Carson adds, if you are not part of the LGBTQ community and are looking for a welcoming community, the center is the place.

“Being in a room surrounded by queer people is really liberating and enjoyable,” said Carson.

The center is 2,000 square meters and consists of a lounge, meeting rooms, a resource library and a transgender wardrobe. It is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The center is currently seeking donations for Give Out Day, a national online donation day for LGBTQ centers. The money goes to youth programs and social events that promote the physical and mental health of LGBTQ youth.

To donate, you can send GGF to 44-321 to support their mission for the pride moth. For more information, you can visit the website.

The post LGTBQ center in Greensboro is open first appeared on North Carolina Chronicle.

) [summary] =>
LGTBQ center in Greensboro is open

GREENSBORO, NC – The first LGBTQ center in downtown Greensboro has reopened after being closed for over a year. The center moved to its new location on Greene Street in January 2020 and had to close shortly after it opened due to COVID-19. The center is now open and currently offers resources and programs on […]

The post LGTBQ center in Greensboro is open first appeared on North Carolina Chronicle.

[atom_content] =>
LGTBQ center in Greensboro is open

GREENSBORO, NC – The first LGBTQ center in downtown Greensboro has reopened after being closed for over a year.

The center moved to its new location on Greene Street in January 2020 and had to close shortly after it opened due to COVID-19.

The center is now open and currently offers resources and programs on a wide range of topics, such as: Health care, knowledge of your legal rights, self-advocacy, aging and transgender issues.

What you need to know

The executive director of the Guilford Green Foundation and LGBTQ Center, Jennifer Ruppe, said it was great to have everyone back in the building.

?For many people, the community center, the LGBTQ center, may be the only place where they feel validated in their identity and feel safe or look for resources. Therefore, it was difficult for many people not to have access to this room during the pandemic, “said Ruppe.

That was the case with Sophie Carson and her boyfriend James Kirland. The two are high school students in Guilford County and both are part of the LGBTQ Center’s youth program.

They feel like the center is one of the few places where they can be themselves without being bullied.

“I’m the president of my school, GSA, the Gay Straight Alliance, so I’m very open about my school and there are a lot of derogatory comments,” Carson said.

“I received death threats for coming out of my school as a trans man,” added Kirklanded.

Carson adds, if you are not part of the LGBTQ community and are looking for a welcoming community, the center is the place.

“Being in a room surrounded by queer people is really liberating and enjoyable,” said Carson.

The center is 2,000 square meters and consists of a lounge, meeting rooms, a resource library and a transgender wardrobe. It is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The center is currently seeking donations for Give Out Day, a national online donation day for LGBTQ centers. The money goes to youth programs and social events that promote the physical and mental health of LGBTQ youth.

To donate, you can send GGF to 44-321 to support their mission for the pride moth. For more information, you can visit the website.

The post LGTBQ center in Greensboro is open first appeared on North Carolina Chronicle.

[date_timestamp] => 1624228360 ) ) [channel] => Array ( [title] => North Carolina Chronicle [link] => https://nocarolinachronicle.com [description] => Tarheel Times [lastbuilddate] => Mon, 21 Jun 2021 02:33:15 +0000 [language] => en-US [sy] => Array ( [updateperiod] => hourly [updatefrequency] => 1 ) [generator] => https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.2 [tagline] => Tarheel Times ) [textinput] => Array ( ) [image] => Array ( ) [feed_type] => RSS [feed_version] => 2.0 [encoding] => ISO-8859-1 [_source_encoding] => [ERROR] => [WARNING] => [_CONTENT_CONSTRUCTS] => Array ( [0] => content [1] => summary [2] => info [3] => title [4] => tagline [5] => copyright ) [_KNOWN_ENCODINGS] => Array ( [0] => UTF-8 [1] => US-ASCII [2] => ISO-8859-1 ) [stack] => Array ( ) [inchannel] => [initem] => [incontent] => [intextinput] => [inimage] => [current_namespace] => [last_modified] => Mon, 21 Jun 2021 03:05:01 GMT [etag] => w1dP2+cNLfiVWI9nleBQIdZBS3k )