On politicians, corruption, and golf courses

by Mindy Hiteshue — last modified Oct 21, 2009 10:59 PM
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I really don't want to be one of those people who doesn't have the ability to believe in any politician because of the ill deeds of a (small?) group of corrupt leaders. And luckily, I'm not that jaded...yet. But I must say I was quite disheartened to learn that back in 2002 former Governor Easley was not exactly practicing what he preached. As he encouraged North Carolinians to cut down on water use during a horrible statewide drought, he apparently also was ensuring that his golf course was not suffering from the water restrictions that every one else was facing. From the Charlotte Observer:

"[Easley] was the first Southern governor to seek federal disaster aid because of the drought. A high-profile visit to a Wake County farm showed a concerned governor sifting through the stunted shoots of a shriveled corn field. In mid-August he issued an executive order halting non-essential water use and creating a Water System Protection Team to study water restrictions.

It was just the sort of thing a governor ought to do in a crisis. But what only a few insiders in Raleigh knew was that his administration was helping Easley's golf club get permission to pump millions of gallons from a tributary of a major water supply to water the club's greens. Despite warnings from some officials about how it would look if the public caught on, the Easley administration cleared the way for Old Chatham Golf Club to pump 450,000 gallons a day from Northeast Creek, which eventually flows into Jordan Lake, a source of water for Cary in Wake County and for Chatham County."

And there's plenty more where that came from: an editorial from the Greensboro News and Record, an article from the Raleigh News & Observer, and an editorial also from the N&0.

Is there no end to the hypocrisy of the people we are supposed to trust?

Time for the annual SmartCommute Challenge

by Mindy Hiteshue — last modified May 04, 2009 09:35 PM

Well, folks, it's that time of year again! Triangle Transit has announced this year's SmartCommute Challenge, which runs through Mary 30. From their press release:


The 2009 SmartCommute Challenge, an annual nonprofit public service campaign aimed at reducing traffic congestion and improving air quality in the Triangle, is celebrating Earth Day with pledge events in Durham, Chapel Hill and Raleigh. The SmartCommute Challenge, coordinated by GoTriangle and SmartCommute@rtp, encourages commuters and college students who work or attend classes in Durham, Wake or Orange Counties to try a smarter, greener commuting alternative. Commuters can take the Challenge at and pledge to ride the bus, carpool, vanpool, telework, bike or walk at least once during the six week campaign, which runs until May 30.

For info on how to take the challenge, visit

Land and Water Conservation Day, April 29

by Mindy Hiteshue — last modified Apr 24, 2009 08:53 PM
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Hey folks! Wanted to give you a heads up about Land Water Conservation Day, next Wednesday April 29 in Raleigh. From our friends at Land for Tomorrow:

Mark the date - April 29 is Land for Tomorrow Lobby Day. We need you in Raleigh this year more than ever before.

There's no need to reiterate all the recent bad economic news. Instead, we need to focus on ensuring that conservation funding isn't left behind during these tough times. We must convince the General Assembly that conservation funding isn't discretionary - it is absolutely necessary as an economic driver and also to protect and improve public health by keeping drinking water clean and providing places for people to recreate.

Legislators need to hear from you. Please plan to attend lobby day and tell them firsthand about the importance of conservation funding. Please invite your like-minded friends to attend as well. We need to show the General Assembly that this is a big issue for lots of people across North Carolina.

You can register for lobby day by going to our web site,

Poisoned Waters

by Mindy Hiteshue — last modified Apr 22, 2009 09:37 PM
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In honor of Earth Day, I watched a great documentary last night on our nation's contaminated water supplies. Aired by PBS through their show Frontline, Poisoned Waters takes a look at some of the major drinking water sources in the United States and delves into the sticky issues of agricultural and pesticide contamination, fish kills, endocrine disruptors, PCB contamination (just to name a few) and how these issues are impacting public health.

You can watch the full program or read the interviews with some of the people highlighted in the documentary.

Check it out if you have time--it's definitely worth the watch. Happy Earth Day!!!!

Planet Earth Celebration in Raleigh!

by Mindy Hiteshue — last modified Apr 10, 2009 04:32 PM
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Please mark your calendars for Burt's Bees Planet Earth Celebration!

Saturday, April 18
11:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Downtown Raleigh at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences and the State Capitol Grounds
Cost: Free! It's part of Earth Day Raleigh
For more information, visit:

Join Burts Bees for a green Earth Day festival, have fun and learn about the many opportunities in our community for living lightly on the Planet.


  • Burt's Bees Happy 25th Burt Day Bonanza Tent Sale
  • Paperhand Puppet Intervention and the Trash March
  • Lots of local businesses & non profits whose good works support sustainable living
  • Eco-smart shopping in the Green Bazaar
  • Whole Foods Market “Bag-Out in Style” fashion show
  • Patty’s Green Live Eco-Style Musical Show for Youngsters
  • Live Music with the Connells, Violet Vector & the Lovely Lovelies, and more
  • Earth-friendly Fun for kids from The Scrap Exchange and Marbles Kids Museum
  • The hip sounds of The Junkman and his totally recycled trash band
  • The 9th Annual Sustainable Design Competition
  • And much more to come!

Wow! Presidents can do this?

by christopher — last modified Feb 27, 2009 08:55 PM

During his speech Tuesday night, President Obama challenged Congress to pass a bill that caps carbon pollution and increases production of renewable energy. It was his strongest call yet for bold climate action, and we have to answer it. In other words: it's game time! However, for those of us in the environmental community, the real work is just about to begin. The only way President Obama will get to sign such a bill is if Congress feels the pressure to act coming from their districts back home. This means we all need to let our representatives know that now is the time to move forward on this issue.

Perhaps the best way to have a real impact on this issue in your community is to join the 1Sky campaign as a Climate Precinct Captain.

Also, if you have a minute, please take one and call your legislator and ask him or her to take a stance in favor of strong climate change legislation. Here’s a tool to look up your representative’s phone number: Legislator look-up.

We need your passion and commitment to bold climate solutions now more than ever.

Butterfield to pen key climate bill

Also, for those of you in the eastern part of the state, NC district 1 is taking center stage on this issue. Representative G.K. Butterfield will play an important role in drafting the legislation and he needs to hear from his constituents that this is an issue of paramount importance. Over the next four weeks all of us here at the Conservation Network and 1Sky will be spending a great deal of time in places like Elizabeth City, Greenville, Wilson, Rocky Mount and Tarboro--and we could really use your help. Again, a great way to help us out is to sign up as a Climate Precinct Captain and get the tools you need to help organizing your friends and neighbors.

While it is very exciting to finally have leadership on this issue at the highest level, we can't sit and wait for change to come to us. We know the opposition is redoubling their efforts to oppose this legislation and we need to make sure we work twice as hard to make sure that we pass the strongest climate bill possible.

Focus the Nation

by veronica — last modified Feb 23, 2009 10:39 PM

[This blog entry was guest-written by Mark Kimbrell of Focus the Nation.]

On April 18, 2009, at the end of the first one hundred days of the new administration and congress, students, community leaders, activists, citizens and elected officials will convene in congressional districts across the country for a Nation-Wide Town Hall Meeting on climate change and America's clean energy future. These events will bring communities together with their elected representatives to discuss ideas and solutions for building a just and sustainable clean energy economy.


Focus the Nation is working on bringing these empowering events to North Carolina, but needs organizers and volunteers to join the effort. The town hall campaign seeks active individuals, to step into leadership positions, and organize an event in their community. By getting involved you can make sure the North Carolina delegation is engaged on climate change, amplify the voice of your community, and distinguish yourself as a leader within the climate movement.

Those who join the effort will have access to the Focus the Nation online organizing community, and will work in solidarity with organizers from across the country, giving each event a national impact. Multiple organizing resources will be provided by the Focus the Nation staff, and organizers will receive support as they plan their event, execute it, and build momentum afterwards. You can find more info about becoming an organizer, or about attending events near your community at

Will you become a part of the clean energy movement? If so, contact Mark Kimbrell, Focus the Nation’s Southeast Organizer, at 503-241-4368 or mark[at]

There has never been a better time to engage your community on these incredibly important issues. Make clean energy solutions and green jobs a reality throughout North Carolina.

From green recovery to green budget

by Grady McCallie — last modified Feb 19, 2009 06:48 PM

On Tuesday, President Obama signed into law the stimulus bill (see our blog post), the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The bill has an estimated $6.1 billion for North Carolina. Journalists, state legislators, and wonks have immediately started teasing out what’s available for environmental and other projects. Still, the monies coming to North Carolina will not fill the hole in the state’s budget shortfall, and Gov. Perdue has announced she’ll be looking for more cuts in this year’s state spending. The General Assembly will have to tackle the 2009-2010 budget later this Spring.

Meanwhile, at the federal level, crafting a 2010 budget won’t be easy either. To that end, 25 of the largest environmental and conservation organizations in the country have just released the Green Budget for fiscal year 2010. The report outlines priorities for federal spending on lands and wildlife, energy, environment and public health, oceans, transportation and other programs.

You can download the full report at:

A key recommendation of the report is repair of the federal EPA’s capacity to enforce environmental laws. That capacity was systematically dismantled over the last eight years, and we need it to back up and support our state enforcement efforts. At the press conference [mp3 audio file] presenting the budget, North Carolina’s own Peter Raabe, from American Rivers, also called for increased federal spending on pollution control and steps to protect public health in the face of climate change. The budget also outlines areas where federal investment can generate green jobs and help shift us towards a sustainable economy.

As our state lawmakers prepare to write next year’s state budget, it’s increasingly clear that we desperately need a stronger federal budget and active federal presence to supplement and undergird our state program. Every useful environmental program funded by Congress gives our state legislators a little breathing room to focus state funds on the biggest threats to public health and our environment. Let’s hope both federal and state lawmakers are paying close attention to the priorities outlined in the Green Budget.

Michigan Governor Granholm looks beyond new coal plants

by Peter Walz — last modified Feb 04, 2009 06:37 PM
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Some governors from across the country have shown strong leadership on slowing industry moves to build more coal plants, instead requiring or taking a second look at renewable energy resources and efficiency programs. Governor Jennifer Granholm of Michigan is the latest. Note to Governor Bev Perdue: this is leadership and how you create a loyal following from voters.

LANSING, Mich. - Gov. Jennifer Granholm wants to make it harder for utilities to justify building new coal-fired power plants, encouraging them to instead rely on more energy conservation. Speaking Tuesday in her seventh annual State of the State speech, Granholm called for reducing the state's reliance on electric plants powered by coal and natural gas 45 percent by 2020...

...Four companies have requests before the state Department of Environmental Quality to build new coal-fired power plants, the most requests for new coal plants anywhere in the country. The state already has 19 coal-fired plants; the average one is 50 years old. The plan is not a moratorium on building more coal-fired plants. But environmental groups are hoping it could make it much harder to get them approved...

...In making it harder for companies to build new power plants that rely on coal, Michigan is following the example of other states. Wisconsin officials recently rejected a request for a new coal-fired power plant, and Kansas officials have rejected proposals to build two plants in the southwest corner of the state. It's possible one of the four proposals now before Michigan DEQ could win approval. But all are being sent back and asked to prove that there are no "prudent and feasible" alternatives to using coal, which emits carbon dioxide that contributes to global warning.

Obama's green-jobs plan

by Peter Walz — last modified Dec 03, 2008 11:59 PM
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President-elect Barack Obama may be looking at ways to paint the economic recovery plan green, according to this article:

"President-elect Barack Obama is considering a stimulus package that will include a heavy dose of spending on environmentally friendly projects aimed at creating “green-collar jobs” and saving energy. While the package will focus on short-term outlays for traditional infrastructure projects to jumpstart an economy now officially declared to be in recession, it will also include longer-term measures to safeguard the environment."

Some of the early proposals being considered include:

"$2 billion in spending on public transit to reduce fares and expand service, $5 billion in renewable-energy bonds for consumer-owned utilities, $2.5 billion to buy and scrap old polluting cars, and $900 million to help weatherize 1 million homes."

If taxpayers are going to bail out big business (and basically the entire economy) then we need to make sure that we rebuild it in the most consumer and environmentally friendly way possible.

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