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recycle_symbol2MountainTrue’s Southern Regional Office Recycling Committee will host its next meeting at 4:30 p.m. March 18 in our conference room at 611 N. Church St., Hendersonville.

The main presenter will be Ken Allison from the proposed Regional Recycling Solutions Center planned for Asheville. 

This should be very informative for anyone who is interested in recycling. His presentation will focus on new facility, his state of the art sorting machine imported from Germany, and how the facility will affect recycling in WNC.

The presentation will be about 30 minutes.

For more information, call (828) 692-0385.

March 22: Green River Hike

Join us for a moderate 7-mile Sunday hike along the Green River with MountainTrue’s very own ecologist Bob Gale!

GreenRiver6bThis is a great late winter hike which follows the Green River offering continuous views of its quiet stretches to its most intense rapids. We’ll look for early wildflowers and migrating warblers. Because it lies at lower elevations than more northerly mountain counties, temperatures should be mild and spring vegetation will be farther along. We’ll pass through remnant eastern hemlock stands which have been less affected by the hemlock woolly adelgid insect and offer a glimpse of what all of our GreenRiver6once thriving hemlock communities looked like 10 years ago. The trail also passes through an interesting boulder area and ends in a boulder-strewn stretch of the river. Here, and along the final mile, we’ll have the exciting treat of seeing of seeing kayakers fighting through several dynamic stretches of rapids. Please wear appropriate shoes and layers, and bring water and a lunch! Carpool available from Earth Fare in the Westgate Shopping Center at 9:00AM.

Date: Sunday, March 22 2015
Time: 10:00AM – 4:30PM
Location: Green River Cove Trail: 3851 Green River Cove Road, Saluda NC
Cost: Free
Registration Deadline: Friday, March 20 at 5:00 PM

REGISTER HERE

For more information, please contact Rachel Stevens at rachel@mountaintrue.org or call 828-258-8737 ext. 215

raleighCreation Care Alliance of WNC invites you to join NCIPL and Interfaith Power & Light founder and President Rev. Sally Bingham on March 25th at the NC General Assembly in Raleigh for the Faith Voices for Clean Energy Advocacy Day. We will meet with members of the General Assembly to hear their vision for North Carolina and to express our support for new and existing clean energy policies. CCAWNC will sponsor a van that can take 15 people to Raleigh early on March 25. Details on time and location of van pick-up to come.

Rev. Sally Bingham, NCIPL and Interfaith Power & Light founder and President

Rev. Sally Bingham,

Date: Wednesday, March 25 2015, Faith Voices for Clean Energy Advocacy Day
Time: 8:30AM – 3:00PM
Location: NC General Assembly, Raleigh; transportation provided by CCAWNC
Cost: Free
Registration Deadline: March 23 at 5:00 PM

REGISTER HERE

 

For more information, please contact Jane Laping at janelaping@sbcglobal.net or call 828-277-7342.

Join Creation Care Alliance of WNC from 5:30-7:30 p.m. March 5 for an Advocating with Compassion training at the Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church in Asheville.

Susannah Tuttle, Director of NC Interfaith Power and Light

Susannah Tuttle, Director of NC Interfaith Power and Light

Veronica Shingleton, NCIPL's Communications and Advocacy Consultant

Veronica Shingleton, NCIPL’s Communications and Advocacy Consultant

In preparation for our trip to Raleigh on March 25 for Advocacy Day, Susannah Tuttle, Director of NC Interfaith Power and Light, and Veronica Shingleton, NCIPL’s Communications and Advocacy Consultant, will lead us in a one-hour training on a compassionate way to speak to our legislators. Join us for this essential skill-building event. Dinner and discussion will follow the training.
Please RSVP so we can have enough food for everyone.

Date: Thursday, March 5
Time: 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Location: Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church, 789 Merrimon Ave.
Cost: Free
Registration Deadline: March 4 at 5 p.m.

REGISTER HERE

 

For more information, please contact Jane Laping at janelaping@sbcglobal.net or call 828-277-7342.

blThe Blue Ridge Bicycle Club encourages the community to participate in the 2nd Annual Hendersonville Bike Symposium.

In collaboration with area businesses and non-profit organizations, the Blue Ridge Bicycle Club is working to build a better bicycling infrastructure in Hendersonville and Henderson County. Interested community members are encouraged to join them on from  6-9 p.m. Feb. 26 at the TEDC Building at Blue Ridge Community College.

Some of the topics that will be covered in the symposium are as follows: the City of Hendersonville’s grant application to develop a comprehensive bicycling infrastructure, the new Berkeley Mills youth bicycling park, the current status of the Ecusta Trail initiative, the work being done by Trips for Kids to get less fortunate kids on bikes, the potential of adding a mountain bike park, and much more.

“We know there are so many people – friends, co-workers and neighbors, adults and children- who would like to ride bikes, but who just don’t feel safe on our roads,” explained Joe Sanders, President of the Blue Ridge Bicycle Club. “Our goal with this symposium is to connect Henderson County through collaboration and shared information. Participants will hear from local groups and organizations working to make cycling safer in our hometown.”

Along with the Blue Ridge Bicycle Club, the symposium is co-sponsored by Blue Ridge Community College, Sycamore Cycles, and Henderson County Parks and Recreation and will feature representatives from several area bicycling related organizations and initiatives.

For more information, email joesanders0522@gmail.com or call 828-243-6732.

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About Blue Ridge Bicycle Club: The mission of the Blue Ridge Bicycle Club is to promote healthy and fun lifestyles through cycling in Western North Carolina. For more information about the Blue Ridge Bicycle Club, please visit www.blueridgebicycleclub.org or call (828) 243-6732 .

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New Report and Analysis Demonstrate Dangerous Air Pollution Levels Up To 3.5 Times Safe Limits

** Both reports available as .pdf by request and online at http://content.sierraclub.org/coal/north-carolina/asheville/new-report-toxic-pollution **
Contacts:
Adam Beitman, Sierra Club, (202) 675-2385, adam.beitman@sierraclub.org
Melissa Williams, MountainTrue, (828) 258-8737 x 216,melissa@mountaintrue.org

Toxic Sulfur Pollution Exceeding Safe Levels in Asheville

New Report and Analysis Demonstrate Dangerous Air Pollution Levels Up To 3.5 Times Safe Limits

ASHEVILLE, NC – A new report demonstrates that Duke Energy’s Asheville coal plant has been emitting harmful sulfur dioxide (SO2) pollution at levels considered unsafe by the Environmental Protection Agency for the past several years. Areas impacted include parts of South Asheville, Fairview, and Leicester, as well as trails in the Bent Creek Forest.

An air modeling study by Air Resource Specialists[1] shows that concentrations of SO2 in the air near people’s homes downwind of the Asheville coal plant are up to 3.5 times higher than what EPA has determined to be safe. According to the study, the plant’s pollution has exceeded these minimum public health standards approximately one out of every three to four days since 2010.

A separate analysis[2] of operations at the plant points to the two causes of this increased pollution: Duke apparently has not been running its pollution protection technology fully and, at the same time, has switched to cheaper, dirtier, higher-sulfur coal. The most likely reason for these changes is to reduce the cost of running this plant, which is one of the utility’s most expensive to operate.

Air pollution controls, “scrubbers”, were installed at the plant in 2005 and 2006. The analysis released today suggests that when first installed, those safeguards were run at acceptable levels, but have been turned down in recent years.

“These new findings reveal dangers to families who live in and visit the impacted area and who breathe the air that is being polluted by Duke Energy’s coal plant,” said Kelly Martin, North Carolina Representative of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign.

“Fortunately, there is an easy way for Duke to eliminate this health threat and restore clean air to Asheville: they can run the plant’s pollution control technology as it was designed to be operated and can return to using coal with lower sulfur content,” said Julie Mayfield, Co-Director of MountainTrue(formerly, the Western North Carolina Alliance). “We urge Duke Energy to take the steps necessary to stop their pollution and protect our families.”

Nearly 20,000 children and adults suffer from asthma in Buncombe County[3]. “It is beyond my moral imagination that Duke Energy would permit this public health hazard to endanger our community,” said Richard Fireman, M.D., retired Emergency Medicine Physician. “We know that air pollution from sulfur dioxide triggers asthma attacks and airway constriction. It exacerbates other respiratory problems including bronchitis and emphysema, requiring emergency medical treatment and hospital admissions. Sulfur dioxide can also form other toxic sulfur compounds that can aggravate existing heart disease, causing hospital admissions and unexpected, premature death.”

“While we’ve just learned about the extent and intensity of sulfur dioxide pollution in Asheville’s air, Duke’s coal plant has been a known source of pollution affecting our water and our climate for decades. It’s time for Duke to take responsibility for this pollution and protect the health of our communities, not just some of the time, but all the time,” Martin said.

Previously, watchdog groups have discovered dangerous pollution from the plant’s coal ash pits, including mercury, leaking into the French Broad River in violation of the Clean Water Act. The plant is also the largest source of carbon pollution in Western North Carolina, making it the leading contributor to climate disruption in the region.

 


[1] D. Howard Gebhart, Air Resource Specialists, Inc., Air Quality Dispersion Modeling 1-Hour Average Standard for Sulfur Dioxide: Duke Energy — Asheville Plant (Feb. 13, 2015)

[2] Ranajit Sahu, Analysis of Scrubber Operation: Duke Energy — Asheville Plant (Feb. 16, 2015)

[3] stateoftheair.org/2014/states/north-carolina/ – American Lung Association

HCMonitoring2

The French Broad Watershed in North Carolina covers more than 2,800 square miles. In 2008, more than 15 percent of the streams in the watershed were impaired for bacterial pollution.

While bacterial pollution in the French Broad watershed is prevalent, it is largely undetected and therefore unresolved. Bacteria impairment is a significant health concern, as the presence of certain types of bacteria increases the likelihood of waterborne pathogens, increasing the risks to human and aquatic health. Despite the importance of understanding the effects of bacteria pollution, knowledge about its distribution is the key to reducing and preventing future pollution.

The Riverkeeper has developed a program that uses local volunteers to monitor fecal coliform levels in in the French Broad River and its surrounding tributaries. Samples are taken weekly and the results are posted here in the Swim Guide, which was created to inform the public about the environmental safety of their local waterways. It helps users identify which waterways are safe for swimming and recreation. The French Broad Riverkeeper also uses the data from this program to identify areas of point-source pollution, and in turn, develops tactics to remediate these problems.

Bacteria in our streams come from a variety of sources, including leaking sewer lines, faulty septic systems, straight piped sewage, animal waste, agricultural runoff, and other point and non-point sources. Mountain True’s French Broad Riverkeeper is currently looking into the sources of pollution in Henderson and Buncombe counties. The Riverkeeper has developed a bacteria monitoring program that, with the help of volunteers, involves sampling for fecal coliform levels in the French Broad River and surrounding tributaries.

The presence of fecal coliform bacteria in water is a strong indicator of the presence of waterborne pathogens, such as giardia, cholera, and several other gastrointestinal diseases. However, while testing for specific diseases is expensive and not as accurate, the Riverkeeper tests for fecal coliforms and can identify the presence of E. coli, which can then be used to quantitatively express the quality of the water. Depending on the use of the stream, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) uses the # of E. coli/100 mL sample to identify whether a stream is impaired and unsuitable for fishing, swimming, and drinking, or if it is healthy.

Along with Waterkeeper Alliance’s Pure Farms Pure Water campaign, the French Broad Riverkeeper is focusing bacterial sampling around Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) in Henderson and Buncombe counties. While other sources of pollution may be identified through sampling, CAFOs can contribute to bacteria pollution through leaks in waste storage lagoons, improperly discharging waste around streams, and waste runoff from rain and misapplication. The Riverkeeper identified four CAFOs last year that are contributing to high fecal coliform contamination. The Riverkeeper hopes to identify additional sources and work with known polluters to mitigate contamination in the future.

Check out the current EPA status of impaired streams in the French Broad Watershed to see which waterways are impaired near you.

Volunteer with us by clicking here!

HBO’s Vice News will feature our French Broad Riverkeeper’s work concerning Duke Energy’s coal-fired power plant at Cliffside.

From the Vice News website:

Coal ash, which contains many of the world’s worst carcinogens, is what’s left over when coal is burnt for electricity. An estimated 113 million tons of coal ash are produced annually in the US, and stored in almost every state — some of it literally in people’s backyards. With very little government oversight and few safeguards in place, toxic chemicals have been known to leak from these storage sites and into nearby communities, contaminating drinking water and making residents sick. In the upcoming series, VICE News travels across the US to meet the people and visit the areas most affected by this toxic waste stream. Since coal production is predicted to remain steady for the next few decades, coal ash will be a problem that will affect the US for years to come. 

paddletrailcampMountainTrue needs volunteers paddle with our French Broad Riverkeeper and plant live trees along the riverbank as we go.

Each tree we plant will help to restore the bank’s stability and prevent sediment erosion into the French Broad River.

These “live-staking” outings will be from 9:30 a.m.—5 p.m. on Feb. 20; and March 10 and 24. You can sign up for one day or all of them, and no experience is necessary.

MountainTrue will provide the boats (but if you have your own, you’re welcome to bring it) trees and tools.  Just bring yourself and your lunch – and please wear what you need to be comfortable for a day on the river.

All of the outings will start at Headwaters Outfitters, located at 25 Parkway Road in Rosman. We’ll shuttle from there to the river put-in at Champion Park.

Click here to join us!

If you want to join us or want more information, please contact Assistant French Broad Riverkeeper Anna Alsobrook at Anna@WNCA.org. You may also call her at (828) 258-8737, ext. 212.

 

 

 

Late last year, the NC Mining & Energy Commission finalized rules that are scheduled to take effect this Spring, allowing the state to issue permits for fracking in North Carolina. In other states, fracking has caused a litany of harmful impacts.

With the start of the state legislative session, our state legislators have one more opportunity to reject these rules and decide that fracking is the wrong choice for North Carolina.

Bills have been introduced in the N.C. House and Senate to disapprove the fracking rules, blocking the issuance of permits.

Please call your legislators TODAY asking them to cosponsor these disapproval bills and stand against fracking in North Carolina. 

Talking points:

  • -Fracking is not right for North Carolina.  In other states where it is ongoing, fracking has polluted drinking water, released toxic air pollution, and damaged landscapes.  It threatens public health, disrupts communities, and destroys neighbors’ property values and quality of life.  We don’t need that here.
  • -The fracking rules adopted by the Mining & Energy Commission last year will not protect North Carolinians from these impacts.  Rep. Reives’ disapproval bill, if enacted, would block the issuance of fracking permits and thus keep this industry from coming to our state.  We hope you will cosponsor the fracking disapproval bill and make clear your opposition to fracking in North Carolina.
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