Did You Miss Our Annual Gathering? You Can Still Take Action Here!

Did You Miss Our Annual Gathering? You Can Still Take Action Here!

We had a wonderful evening hanging out with MountainTrue members at our Annual Gathering on Wednesday night. If you missed it, you can still take action to protect WNC’s mountains here. We hope you’ll get involved and join us next time!

Tell City Council: Fund Climate Resilience

What It Is: As members of the Asheville Regional Transit Coalition (ARTC) and the 100% Renewables Coalition, we’ve had some exciting victories this year. Asheville City Council passed a new Transit Master Plan that lays out a path to more frequent and widespread transit service in Asheville over the next ten years, and City Council adopted a 100% Renewable Energy Resolution to transition all city municipal operations to 100% renewable energy by 2030.

What You Can Do: These plans are a great first step, but now we need City Council to commit to turning them into action. Tell City Council: Thank you for voting to approve the 100% Renewable Energy Resolution and Transit Master Plan. Now, commit to funding Asheville’s 100% Renewable Energy Resolution and Transit Master Plan starting in next year’s city budget.

 

I Heart Pisgah: Protect Your Favorite Places in Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest

 

What It Is:
MountainTrue is a proud member if I Heart Pisgah, a group of over 100 organizations and businesses and thousands of individuals who support more protected areas in Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest.

What You Can Do:

Go to the I Heart Pisgah website here to take action to protect your favorite places in the national forest. You can write about what you love to do there and why you want to see it protected – the more you make it your own, the better. Your comments will go to the Forest Service before the release of the new Nantahala-Pisgah Forest Management Plan.

Blue Horizons Project: Make Your Home And Business More Energy-Efficient

What It Is: The Blue Horizons Project is an outgrowth of MountainTrue’s work to shut down the Asheville coal plant and encourage Duke Energy to increase their investment in energy efficiency programs.

Buncombe County’s energy usage is continuing to increase, and energy demand is highest on the coldest days of winter. If this pattern continues at the current rate, a new natural gas plant known as a “peaker plant” would need to be built to serve Buncombe County to meet the highest peak demand in winter. The Blue Horizons Project believes that instead of building more fossil-fuel plants, we can organize as a community to use energy more efficiently and explore clean energy alternatives.

What You Can Do: Go to the Blue Horizons website to find ways to make your home and/or business more energy-efficient. You can also sign up for the Blue Horizons newsletter or contact Blue Horizons Project Coordinator Sophie Mullinax to help more people in Buncombe County save energy and money through the project.

 

Family-Friendly Affordable Buncombe: Support Buncombe County Families

What It Is: MountainTrue is a leading organization of Family-Friendly Affordable Buncombe, an initiative to leverage the unique opportunity provided to our community by the sale of Mission Health in order to make our region more affordable for Buncombe County families and workers. Specifically, we believe the new property tax revenue created by the sale of Mission Health should support early childhood education, attainable family housing and better public transit.

What You Can Do: Learn more about Family-Friendly Affordable Buncombe on our website and sign on as a supporter. 


Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.

“Moving Beyond Coal”: An Overview of MountainTrue’s Recent Energy Advocacy By Katie Breckheimer

“Moving Beyond Coal”: An Overview of MountainTrue’s Recent Energy Advocacy By Katie Breckheimer

Former MountainTrue Campaign Manager Joan Walker at a Carolina Land Coalition rally on the old Henderson County Courthouse steps. 


Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.

Celebrate Earth Day All Month Long

Celebrate Earth Day All Month Long

Audrey & Frank Peterman are tenacious advocates for breaking the color barrier and making America’s natural treasures accessible to all Americans regardless of race. They will give the keynote address at UNCA’s Spring Greenfest 2018 on March 26.

With great natural beauty come great advocates.

Many organizations have formed over the years to preserve Western North Carolina’s natural places and unique character. That’s why this year, MountainTrue and more than 20 area conservation and environmental organizations are combining forces to celebrate Earth Day throughout the entire month of April.

We’re calling this collective effort WNC For The Planet, and we’re teaming up with local businesses, universities, community groups and individuals like you for a month of environmental service, educational opportunities, and celebrations in Asheville and across Western North Carolina.

Susan Bean, Community Engagement Manager for MountainTrue, worked with an organizing committee that included leaders from RiverLink, Friends of the Smokies, Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, Asheville Greenworks and New Belgium Brewing Company. “Once we had the broad strokes of an idea – that Earth Month is a great opportunity for all of us to come together and make the biggest impact possible – things really picked up steam. The enthusiasm from our partners and the wider community has been amazing.”

As part of the effort, WNC for the Planet launched an online community calendar at wncfortheplanet.org with educational and service opportunities for people of all ages and from all walks of life. Come hear Audrey & Frank Peterman speak on March 26 at UNCA about their book, Legacy on the Land: A Black Couple Discovers Our National Inheritance and Tells Why Every American Should Care. Recycle items that might otherwise end up in the landfill at Asheville GreenWorks’ Hard 2 Recycle event, and catch a screening of the documentary Look and See: A Portrait of Wendell Berry put on by the Organic Growers School. Or, learn how to build a bat box, restore native plant and animal habitats, and weatherize your home to fight climate change.

Keller Williams Realty and Movement Mortgage pitched in for a stream clean up last year.

WNC For The Planet also includes a Business & Community Challenge allowing area businesses, civic organizations and community groups to create teams and compete for prizes and bragging rights. Here’s how it works: Each team earns Planet Points according to how much you accomplish at WNC For the Planet events – how much trash you collect, how many trees you plant, etc. – and at the end of the month we rank your team against other teams. The harder your team works, the more points you earn. The more points you earn, the more you’ve helped keep Western North Carolina beautiful.

WNC for the Planet’s Earth Month culminates with a weekend of celebrations, including Earth Day Kids’ Festival with RiverLink on Saturday, April 21st, and MountainTrue’s annual Earth Day Vigil with faith groups on Sunday, April 22nd. Join us for a final Earth Day party to celebrate our hardworking volunteers and environmental advocates at New Belgium Brewing Company.


Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.

‘Let’s Turn Our Community Into A Demonstration Plot’: A Faith Spotlight on Piney Mountain United Methodist Church

‘Let’s Turn Our Community Into A Demonstration Plot’: A Faith Spotlight on Piney Mountain United Methodist Church

Members of Piney Mountain United Methodist Church during their light bulb drive, August 2017. 

It was something you don’t see every day: in the Hominy Valley just east of Candler, NC, a man pulls a wagon of light bulbs while another drags a wheelbarrow full of green peppers, okra and tomatoes. Winding around the neighborhood, the small group knocks on the doors of 35 homes, and when their neighbors open, they do not ask for money or signatures. Instead they hand out 16 energy-efficient LED light bulbs to each home free of charge along with some fresh produce, and invite them to a community cookout and a series of free classes on creation care.

These generous visitors were congregants of Piney Mountain United Methodist Church for their LED light bulb drive last August. Piney Mountain, known for being a “working church” that serves in the Hominy Valley community, breaks the mold of what may be expected of rural congregations: the church has been incredibly active in the mission to protect our mountains.

“There are a lot of blessings of the rural community,” says Piney Mountain Pastor Kevin Bates. “My people love their land, they love their mountains, and they do a lot of farming. One of my parishioners raises cattle, and he loves every one of those cows and names them all.”

Pastor Bates was determined to connect his parish’s love of the land with an understanding of how climate change affects the earth and how they care for their neighbors. In 2016, Bates received a $1,000 Thriving Rural Communities grant for the neighborhood light bulb drive from the Duke Divinity School Endowment. Piney Mountain has now distributed over 1,300 energy efficient LED light bulbs to help lower their neighbors’ energy bills and reduce carbon emissions at the same time.

“I’d watched people come into the Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Mission (ABCCM) crisis center in Candler saying, “I need help with my heating bill. I need help with my heating bill,” Bates says. “And [ABCCM Site Coordinator] Ian Williams and I decided we need more than a Band-Aid fix for this issue. So the LED light bulbs were a beginning: we thought, let’s start moving people in the right direction so that instead of them asking for $100 come December, let’s save them $100 over the course of the year.”

LED light bulbs are 80% more efficient than regular incandescent light bulbs, and even more efficient than the spiral-shaped compact fluorescents (CFLs.) They’re also safer than CFLs since they do not contain mercury. On top of the energy savings, the LED light bulbs will eliminate about 1,000 pounds of carbon emissions per year the carbon equivalent of planting 15,000 trees in their community over the next ten years.

“We need more than a Band-Aid fix for this issue. So the LED light bulbs were a beginning: we thought, let’s start moving people in the right direction so that instead of them asking for $100 come December, let’s save them $100 over the course of the year.”

–Pastor Kevin Bates

Piney Mountain goes door-to-door in the neighborhood surrounding their church in the Hominy Valley, east of Candler, NC, to build community and create energy savings for their neighbors. 

Pastor Kevin Bates (left) and a Piney Mountain congregant (right) load boxes of LED light bulbs into a wagon at church.

Pastor Bates’ passion for connecting faith with care for the environment is clear, and for him, the effort began with preaching. He did a six-part sermon series on creation care through the lens of Biblical passages from the Genesis creation story to the Book of John, Job, and Revelations, Bates points out that the Bible is full of references to our connection to the earth and the image of God as a gardener. “Other times, my sermons were more focused on the justice elements of what it means when we don’t care for the land,” he says. “There are plenty of places in the Minor Prophets where people are abusing the land and the prophets speak out against it because it’s hurting people, especially the poor. We know that’s the case now, and my congregation responds, ‘we’re farmers too – we get what’s happening.’”

Bates adds that the deep connection to the land felt by many parishioners allows them to feel and respond to climate change on an emotional level. “My people have noticed that they have changed when they plant in the ground, and they have even changed the way they fertilize because of changing snow patterns,” Bates says.

Piney Mountain offered free public classes last fall on home energy savings, composting and canning to keep fostering creation care, and used local knowledge to teach the classes. “I think canning was the best class that we had. I don’t know how many older grandmothers have said ‘I wish my grandchildren and kids knew how to can, but they just bring their tomatoes over here and make me do it,’” Bates laughs.

Many residents of the Hominy Valley make lifestyle choices that, while sometimes considered part of a recent wave of trendy “green” practices, are actually long-standing traditions in rural communities that just make sense economically. In the home energy savings class, Bates realized that most of the participants still used clotheslines and didn’t need to convert back to them to save energy like they might in more urban areas.

Bates serves on the Steering Committee for the Creation Care Alliance, and hopes Piney Mountain will offer more classes in the spring. Piney Mountain also plans to work more closely with the Energy Savers Network and to help make Buncombe County’s recently adopted resolution for 100% renewable energy by 2042 a reality.

Fittingly, Bates’ personal call to this work also connects to an agricultural vision. He speaks of the Koinonia Farm in Georgia that was founded in the early Civil Rights Movement by Clarence Jordan, who believed that black and white people need to live and work together in order for true reconciliation to occur.

“Now obviously there’s a lot of hard work that goes into living together with people,” Bates says. “But with Koinonia Farm, Clarence Jordan spoke about creating a demonstration plot for the kingdom of God, because it demonstrated to the world a different way, the way of the Beloved community. And it was also a protest against the way the world works now. So I turned that language to my congregation and said ‘let’s turn our community into a demonstration plot. Demonstrating to the world a different way: a way of reconciliation with people and land.’”

Are you clergy and interested in bringing creation care back to your faith community?

Would you like to connect to the Creation Care Alliance’s network of faith communities caring for our mountains in Western NC?


Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.

Read Board Chair Katie Breckheimer’s Article on the Southeast Regional Recycling Council Forum for Hendersonville Times-News Here!

Read Board Chair Katie Breckheimer’s Article on the Southeast Regional Recycling Council Forum for Hendersonville Times-News Here!

Dec. 6 2017

MountainTrue Board Chair and Recycling Team member Katie Breckheimer recently wrote an article for the Hendersonville Times-News on the Southeast Regional Council’s fall recycling forum. Check out Katie’s full piece here, and find out more about MountainTrue’s Recycling Team efforts here!


Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.

Consumers and Advocates Ask NC Utilities Commission to Reject Duke’s Half-Billion Dollar Rate Hike

Consumers and Advocates Ask NC Utilities Commission to Reject Duke’s Half-Billion Dollar Rate Hike

 

Consumers and Advocates Ask NC Utilities Commission to Reject Duke’s Half-Billion Dollar Rate Hike

 

For Immediate Release:

September 14, 2017

Asheville — Duke Energy customers and environmental, consumer and welfare advocates are calling on the North Carolina Utilities Commission to reject a proposal by Duke Energy to make consumers pay for the company’s coal ash cleanup through higher bills and fees. Duke customers can make their opposition known at a public hearing of the Utilities Commission on Wednesday, September 27 at 7 p.m. at the Buncombe County Courthouse.

Duke Energy’s proposal would amount to a $477.5 million increase in the amount that Duke can collect from its ratepayers each year. The typical residential customer would see the fixed charge that they pay every month, regardless of the amount of energy that they use, nearly double from $11.13 to $19.50. Their electric rates would increase on average by 16.7%, approximately $18 more per month.

Customers and advocates oppose the plan because it puts the entire burden for costs related to the cleanup of toxic coal ash on the customer. Of the nearly half-billion dollar increase that Duke is requesting of the Commission, $311 million is for recovery for costs spent excavating coal ash at its Asheville, Mayo, Roxboro, Cape Fear, Lee, Robinson, Sutton and Weatherspoon facilities in 2015 and 2016. Duke estimates that its coal ash cleanup costs at those plants will total more than $2.5 billion over the next 40 years.

Opponents of the rate hike are confident that they are on solid legal ground in asking for the Utilities Commission to reject the rate hike and fee increase. North Carolina law only allows for a utility’s cost to be paid by customers if they are reasonable and prudent. Duke Energy’s own insurance providers have refused to cover costs associated with Duke’s coal ash liabilities, citing Duke’s failure “to take reasonable measures to avoid and/or mitigate” the damages resulting from coal ash disposal. In 2015, Duke Energy pled guilty to violating environmental laws related to coal ash pollution from five of its North Carolina power plants.

“Coal ash has resulted in the contamination of lakes, rivers and drinking water supplies,” explains Hartwell Carson, the French Broad Riverkeeper at MountainTrue, a western North Carolina nonprofit that led the fight for cleaner energy and the cleanup of Duke’s coal ash pits. “North Carolina residents have already paid a heavy price, and now Duke Energy wants to bill us for their negligence and mismanagement, too.”

Present in coal ash are heavy metals and toxic chemicals that can be harmful to humans and wildlife. Arsenic poisoning can lead to heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic lower respiratory diseases and diabetes. Cobalt has been linked to cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal disorders, blood poisoning, liver injury and thyroid problems. Chromium is a carcinogen, and hexavalent chromium was the subject of the movie Erin Brockovich, which was based on the true story of groundwater contamination in Hinkley, California by Pacific Gas Electric Company.

MountainTrue and other advocates are encouraging members of the public who have concerns about Duke Energy’s proposal to attend the public hearing of the Utilities Commission on Wednesday, September 27 at 7 p.m. at the Buncombe County Courthouse.

 

Media Contact:

Karim Olaechea

Communications Director, MountainTrue

E: karim@mountiantrue.org; C: 415.535.9004

 

About MountainTrue

MountainTrue is Western North Carolina’s premier advocate for environmental stewardship. We are committed to keeping our mountain region a beautiful place to live, work, and play. Our members protect our forests, clean up our rivers, plan vibrant and livable communities, and advocate for a sound and sustainable future for all residents of WNC. MountainTrue is home to the French Broad Riverkeeper, Green Riverkeeper, Watauga Riverkeeper and the Broad River Alliance, the protectors and defenders of their respective watersheds.

 

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Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.