The cost of coal on your health

by Peter Walz — last modified Nov 23, 2009 09:24 PM

As much of the political debate in America remains primarily focused around health care right now, this report serves as a good reminder that health and clean energy reform are clearly linked together:

Physicians for Social Responsibility has released a groundbreaking medical report, “Coal’s Assault on Human Health,” which takes a new look at the devastating impacts of coal on the human body.  Coal combustion releases mercury, particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and dozens of other substances known to be hazardous to human health. This report looks at the cumulative harm inflicted by those pollutants on three major body organ systems: the respiratory system, the cardiovascular system, and the nervous system. The report also considers coal’s contribution to global warming, and the health implications of global warming.

Calculate your distance to the proposed Titan plant

by Mindy Hiteshue — last modified Jun 17, 2009 08:42 PM
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Many of you may already be familiar with a campaign the NC Conservation Network has been working on with our allies--the Stop Titan campaign. From our Action Alert page:

"The Titan Cement Company plans to construct a coal fired cement plant and limestone mine adjacent to the Northeast Cape Fear River in New Hanover County, NC. The plant would emit toxic mercury and the mining operation would destroy over 1,000 acres of NC wetlands."

There is also a website with lots more info about the campaign: Their site has a built-in map tool that allows you to input an address and find out how far it will be from the proposed plant, and outlines some of the possible effects people at that distance might experience from the creation of the proposed plant. For instance, when I input our office address, it said that we are "106.7 Miles NW of the stack. When the wind blows in the general NW direction, the stack gasses and pollution will blow directly at you." While you're calculating your distance from the proposed stack, notice how many schools are located less than 10 miles from the proposed location.

Skyscrapers to the rescue!

by Nicole Stewart — last modified Feb 11, 2009 03:02 PM
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skyscraperA friend sent me this story today: A different sort of skyscraper, one that cleans the environment.

The CO2 Scraper is a large-scale construction for holding between two to four hundred large-size trees that will absorb potentially dangerous pollutants and convert global warming-related CO2 (carbon dioxide) into breathable oxygen.

Designed to be placed near factories or other major sources of pollution, the CO2 Scraper is a relatively simple, primarily concrete construction in which trees would be supplied with water and nutrients via a windmill-powered pump system.

It's even designed to be energy self-sufficient! So, what do you think? Could it work?

Click here for one blogger's take.

Soaring prices at the pump

by Mindy Hiteshue — last modified Jun 06, 2008 05:45 PM

Well, times are a-changing. I must be turning into the old-timer who always talks about "when she was a kid" how much less expensive things were. You know, postage, gas, gum. The essentials. pumpI remember very vividly in highschool when my friend finally got her license, we would drive over the county line into Union County (we were living in Charlotte, NC), and fill up her tank for 89 cents a gallon.

89 CENTS A GALLON! Ok, adjust for inflation and all that, but STILL. This was only 13 years ago, after all.

If you're still looking for ways to use less gas, check out this article: 101 Ways to Use Less Gas by EcoTrekker. They've broken down the tips into categories to make them easy to sift through and pick the options that work best for you.

Also, if you haven't already, take action to support clean car legislation in North Carolina. Cleaner cars means fewer emissions, and saving money at the pump!

Battling over progressive politics

by Nicole Stewart — last modified Mar 05, 2008 08:53 PM

First it was the proposed Cliffside power plant:
Gubernatorial Candidate, Richard Moore, came out first saying that the Cliffside plant can wait. This was followed only hours later by Gubernatorial Candidate, Beverly Perdue, who also said the plant can wait.

It's a shame they didn't listen to thousands of citizens across the state who have been asking for officials to STOP Cliffside (not wait).

Today it's Campaign Reform:
This time, Perdue was first out of the gate. Followed a day later by Moore supporting the exact same proposal...One initially proposed in 1995 - a bit outdated wouldn't you say?

I find this both interesting and frustrating. It's interesting because the two lead Gubernatorial candidates are coming out proactively on our issues: clean air, renewable energy, energy efficiency, clean & fair elections, getting special interests out of politics...

What's frustrating is that it seems these two candidates aren't talking to groups who work day in and day out on these issues. And, because the candidates aren't connected, their proposals are weak and/or outdated.

Perdue and Moore should be applauded (please note that the NC Conservation Network does not endorse candidates) for their attempts to do the right thing on clean energy and clean elections. But, we should also encourage them to take real stands on the issues if they are serious about protecting public health and the health of our democracy. Candidates should talk to the organizations and individuals who know most about the issues before they paint themselves green and stick a feather in their cap. Because, unfortunately, candidates' proposals often fall short of meaning real change.

On Air: Cliffside controversy

by Mindy Hiteshue — last modified Feb 06, 2008 11:06 PM
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Yesterday's The State of Things radio show featured a conversation regarding the proposed new Cliffside coal-burning power plant (click here for more details). The show featured Tom Williams, Environmental and Energy Efficiency spokesperson for Duke Energy and Jim Warren, Executive Director of the environmental and climate change non-profit (and NC Conservation Network affiliate) NC Waste Awareness & Reduction Network (NC WARN). You can download the broadcast here to hear more about the controversy.

Let us know what you think...about the show, about Duke Power's stance, and/or about your opinion on the Cliffside issue.

EPA ...or IPA?

by erin — last modified Dec 08, 2006 06:38 PM
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It’s nothing new that the Bush Administration is no friend to the environment, but several recent actions by the EPA have really gotten my goat

This week the EPA announced that politics will play a bigger role in setting air quality standards – ok well they didn’t really say that outright, but that is the effect of the changes. 

Every five years the EPA reviews air pollution standards for six air pollutants – ozone, soot, nitrous oxides, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide and lead -  to make sure standards are protective of the environment and public health.  The changes, which the EPA says will “streamline” the process, will add policy considerations to what used to be independent staff scientist review of the science on a pollutant, and will reduce the role of the independent panel of scientific advisors.  Quoted in a New York Times article, Senior Environmental Defense Attorney Vicki Patton summed it up: “They are using this idea of streamlined and expedited decision-making as a Trojan horse to infect the most important decisions the [EPA] administrator makes with politics.”

Lead looks like it might be the first casualty of the new policy. The EPA plans to use this new politically-influenced review process for the lead air quality standards, and the draft staff paper on lead issued this week acknowledges that revoking the standard for lead is an option on the table.  Industry – lead smelters, battery makers and oil refiners - is lobbying for eliminating lead limits. Lead is a highly potent neurotoxin, especially for children. 

Also, on the water quality front, last month the agency approved its final rule that allows spraying toxic pesticides over rivers, streams and lakes without getting a Clean Water Act NPDES permit.  The EPA punts by saying these pesticides are already regulated under the Federal Insecticide. Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), though FIFRA does not regulate water quality or protection of ecosystems. 

If the EPA is going to keep protecting industry over the environment, perhaps it should be called the IPA.

Just Say No

by Mindy Hiteshue — last modified Dec 06, 2006 04:05 PM
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What if I told you that there were programs that would do the following things:

  • save energy costs by 25%;

  • create more jobs across North Carolina (a recent study from Appalachian State University showed these programs could save $3 billion and support over 150,000 jobs in NC);

  • reduce NC's dependence on out-of-state and foreign energy imports and keep jobs and money in the state;

  • provide millions of dollars in energy savings to consumers and state and municipal government;

  • strengthen rural communities and their economies, helping to preserve our land and heritage;

  • keep energy consumers (that would be you and me) from paying $3 million in rate hikes;

  • and much more.

That's right, programs that promote energy efficiency
are very rewarding for North Carolina and the people who live here. Especially since a second key proposal is for the state to reward our utilities for their productivity rather than the volume of the power they sell; this would give utilities a greater incentive to invest in energy efficiency.

Duke Energy, however, feels differently. They are currently asking the NC Utilities Commission for permission to create one of the nation’s largest coal burning plants by expanding their Cliffside plant (60 miles west of Charlotte.)

It's time for North Carolinians to stand up and JUST SAY NO to new polluting power plants. Write your letter to the NC Utilities Commission today and let them know that we deserve energy efficiency programs--NOT new power plants!

Cooper Still Fighting

by heather — last modified Nov 28, 2006 07:49 PM
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We got a little good news over the Thanksgiving holiday: NC Attorney General Roy Cooper is pushing ahead with his work to stop air pollution from blowing into North Carolina.  From the Charlotte Observer:

North Carolina's attorney general is pressing forward with a lawsuit that accuses the nation's largest federal utility of causing a "public nuisance" by failing to reduce pollution from its coal-fired power plants.

Attorney General Roy Cooper said his team was identifying experts to bolster the state's case against the Tennessee Valley Authority.

The lawsuit claims TVA has not taken enough steps to reduce the sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, mercury and soot that have wafted into North Carolina from 11 coal-burning plants in Tennessee, Kentucky and Alabama.

"We're going to have experts to show how visibility in the mountains will significantly improve, how many deaths will be prevented and how many hospital admissions will be reduced when TVA takes steps to cut down on its pollution," Cooper told the Asheville Citizen-Times in an interview published Thursday.

The Raleigh News and Observer praises Cooper and calls TVA's resistance and hard-nosed attitude "unfortunate".  Hopefully, we're getting close to a solution, but the situation is still a sad one:

The North Carolina mountains were once a healing mecca for people from pollution-choked cities. Doctors prescribed high country living as a way to regain healthy lungs. Now, sadly, its is the mountains themselves that need healing.


Making Connections

by veronica — last modified Nov 17, 2006 09:09 PM

As an Organizer for the NC Conservation Network I travel all over my home state fighting to protect our health and our environment. I meet and talk with lots of different people in my travels. Often I hear from folks that they have a hard time seeing the link between their daily life (and health) and the importance of protecting our environment. 

Making Connections, which aired this week on UNC-TV, does an excellent job of showing the links between our everyday life, our land, farms, forests, natural habitats, water usage, air quality, and tourism.

Our friends at Environmental Defense worked with the Director of NC Zoo, Dr. David Jones, to create this wonderful program.  Dr. Jones says “It is time to ask tough questions about polluted air, dirty water, and development…See why now is the time for making connections." He travels across our state exploring how our health and wealth are in danger.

Click here to watch this program online.

They have also created an informative website with lesson plans and activity guides for teachers as well as ways for folks like you to get involved.

Dr. Jones asks "What will our legacy be?" 

I have hope that our state will be a leader in the recycling industry, renewable energy field, eco-tourism and organic farming. I see these replacing the vanishing small town textile mills and farms with industry that creates jobs, saves our small towns and preserves our beautiful environment.

What about you? What do you think our legacy will be?

about blog

As of February 10, 2010, the NCCN blog has moved solely to our Facebook page. Please check us out there!

The NC Conservation Network blog is about the issues, events, people, and news that affect North Carolina’s environment...