MountainTrue, Other Community Groups Intervene In Duke’s Appeal of Coal Ash Order

MountainTrue, Other Community Groups Intervene In Duke’s Appeal of Coal Ash Order

MountainTrue, Other Community Groups Intervene In Duke’s Appeal of Coal Ash Order

The Marshall Steam Station, one of the six coal ash sites the NC Department of Environmental Quality ordered for Duke Energy to clean up. 

May 6, 2019

MountainTrue and several other community groups in North Carolina are intervening in Duke Energy’s appeal of the order requiring the company to clean up its toxic coal ash pollution.

The Department of Environmental Quality’s order was a victory for clean water and frontline communities affected by coal ash in our state. MountainTrue is committed to ensuring that the science-based evidence that led to the Department of Environmental Quality’s order is respected, and that the order is implemented justly for the people of North Carolina.

The following is a press release by the Southern Environmental Law Center, which will represent MountainTrue in the proceedings before the N.C. Office of Administrative Hearings. See this press release on the Southern Environmental Law Center’s website here.

 

Groups Move to Defend N.C. Order that Duke Energy Must Clean Up Coal Ash Pollution at Six Sites

Duke’s Refusal Follows Years of Public Outcry, Pollution, Crimes & Spills

CHAPEL HILL, N.C.—Community groups represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center moved to intervene in appeals filed by Duke Energy in the N.C. Office of Administrative Hearings in which Duke Energy tries to avoid cleaning up its coal ash pollution at six sites in North Carolina. At those sites, Duke Energy stores toxic coal ash in unlined, leaking pits sitting in groundwater next to rivers, lakes, and drinking water reservoirs. For years and again in 2019, thousands of North Carolina families have called upon the state government and Duke Energy to clean up all of Duke’s leaking, unlined coal ash pits across the state. The Southern Environmental Law Center represents the following groups in today’s filings: Appalachian Voices, Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation, MountainTrue, Roanoke River Basin Association, Sierra Club, the Stokes County Branch of the NAACP, and Waterkeeper Alliance.

“All of North Carolina’s waters and all its families deserve protection from Duke Energy’s toxic coal ash pollution,” said Frank Holleman, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center which represents the groups in court seeking cleanup of Duke Energy’s coal ash pollution. “Years of study show the only way to protect North Carolina families is to remove Duke Energy’s toxic coal ash waste from polluting, unlined waterfront pits.  When the coal ash from all of Duke’s sites is finally out of our groundwater in dry, lined storage at each site, North Carolina’s rivers will be cleaner, North Carolina’s drinking water will be safer, and North Carolina’s communities will be more secure.”

State scientists determined that excavation was the only acceptable option because Duke Energy’s coal ash sits deep in the groundwater, and if left in unlined, leaking lagoons as Duke proposes, it would continue to pollute indefinitely. According to Duke Energy’s own analyses, it has the ability to remove the wet ash from unlined pits to dry, lined landfills on-site at each of the six sites in question. Duke Energy is required to clean up seven other coal ash sites in North Carolina by court order and an eighth coal ash site by a settlement agreement with the Southern Environmental Law Center, Waterkeeper Alliance, and Yadkin Riverkeeper.

“For years and with much effort, community members in the Broad River Watershed have respectfully shown up for DEQ’s public input meetings and public information sessions as well as Duke Energy’s community open house,” said David Caldwell, the Broad Riverkeeper at MountainTrue which is a client in the motion to intervene regarding Duke’s Cliffside site.  “We have followed and been part of the long process of discovering the truth about coal ash and its hazards.  DEQ made the decision to have all coal ash in our state excavated and stored safely.  We respect and support this decision.  It is time for Duke Energy to stop wasting time and money on delaying the inevitable.  Duke must now show some respect for its customers, families of North Carolina, and our Department of Environmental Quality; they must get on with the job of cleaning up their mess.”

Duke Energy’s operating companies in North Carolina are under criminal probation after they pleaded guilty 18 times to nine coal ash crimes committed at sites across the state. Duke Energy has a long record of coal ash pollution from the catastrophic Dan River coal ash spill and additional spills, including spills from its pits in Goldsboro and Wilmington in recent storms and continuing flows of pollution from its unlined pits across the state where coal ash sits in groundwater next to rivers and lakes. Duke Energy has repeatedly told the public its coal ash storage was safe, and repeatedly, Duke Energy has been proven wrong, with serious consequences for North Carolina communities and waterways.

“The Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation has been working to protect our waters from coal ash contamination since at least 2012 and will continue to do so,” said Brandon Jones, Catawba Riverkeeper at the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation which is a client in the motions to intervene regarding Duke’s Allen and Marshall sites.  “North Carolinians deserve clean water that is not contaminated by coal ash.  Duke Energy has cleaned up other coal ash pits in our watershed and it is time for them to finish the job. We support the NC DEQ’s decision.”

“At this point, groups and communities throughout the state and the NC DEQ are all in agreement that excavation is the only acceptable option,” says Larissa Liebmann, staff attorney at Waterkeeper Alliance, which is a client on the motions to intervene regarding Duke’s Allen and Marshall sites. “Yet Duke Energy still refuses to do the right thing.”

With these agency orders, North Carolina joins its neighboring states in requiring cleanup of dangerous unlined coal ash storage.  Every utility in South Carolina is already required to excavate all the coal ash from every unlined lagoon in the state, and Virginia recently passed legislation that requires Dominion to excavate all the coal ash from its unlined pits in the state.  The pollution from the six sites that are the subjects of Duke Energy’s appeals flows through North Carolina and into South Carolina and Virginia.

Motions to intervene were filed for the following Duke Energy coal ash sites: AllenBelews CreekCliffsideMarshallMayo, and Roxboro.

A timeline is available here.

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For more than 30 years, the Southern Environmental Law Center has used the power of the law to champion the environment of the Southeast. With over 70 attorneys and nine offices across the region, SELC is widely recognized as the Southeast’s foremost environmental organization and regional leader. SELC works on a full range of environmental issues to protect our natural resources and the health and well-being of all the people in our region. www.SouthernEnvironment.org


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.

MountainTrue’s Statement on DEQ’s Announcement to Order Full Excavation of Duke Energy’s Coal Ash Pits in North Carolina

MountainTrue’s Statement on DEQ’s Announcement to Order Full Excavation of Duke Energy’s Coal Ash Pits in North Carolina

MountainTrue’s Statement on DEQ’s Announcement to Order Full Excavation of Duke Energy’s Coal Ash Pits in North Carolina

Media Contact:

David Caldwell

Broad Riverkeeper, MountainTrue
E: david@mountaintrue.org  P: 704-300-5069

April 3 2019

Cliffside, N.C. On April 1, North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) announced that they will require full excavation of all coal ash impoundments in NC. As a result, a total of nine coal ash pits at six coal-burning plants – Allen, Belews, Cliffside/Rogers, Marshall, Mayo and Roxboro – must be fully excavated and moved to lined landfills. Below are statements from MountainTrue’s Broad Riverkeeper, David Caldwell, and MountainTrue’s Co-Director, Julie Mayfield.

“This is a huge victory for clean water and the health of communities living near coal-burning power plants in North Carolina. DEQ has proven their mettle, showing the people of our state that they intend to do their job of protecting our water and environment. They have shown  big business and industry that polluting our water is unacceptable, and that polluters will be held accountable. This has been a long battle for frontline communities, which have shouldered the burden and the risks associated with coal-fired power for decades.

I personally became involved in the fight to clean up coal ash in 2014, and started the Broad River Alliance in 2015. In 2016 I attended the first of DEQ’s public input meetings regarding Cliffside, joining over one hundred concerned local citizens who stood up and spoke out for clean water. We asked DEQ and Duke Energy to do the right thing and dig up the ash that has been sitting in our groundwater and leaking dangerous contaminants into the Broad River.

The Cliffside community has been showing up and speaking out about the dangers of coal ash for the past three years. Finally, a victory has come for the people and for the environment that sustains us all. It is truly possible that I will one day be able to say to the young fishermen of the Broad River, ‘Yes, the fishing here is fantastic!  And these fish are good to eat! We have clean water and we intend on keeping it!’”

David Caldwell, Broad Riverkeeper for MountainTrue

“MountainTrue is so grateful to DEQ for listening to affected communities and heeding the science showing that full excavation is the only safe option for coal ash closure in our state.

MountainTrue and the Sierra Club launched the focus on coal ash in North Carolina in 2012 as part of the Asheville Beyond Coal campaign. Through that campaign, we secured the forthcoming retirement of Asheville’s coal plant on Lake Julian and the full excavation of those coal ash ponds. This put Asheville’s air and water on a pathway to a cleaner future, but the future for the people and environment in Cliffside and other frontline communities across the state were until now uncertain. This historic decision by DEQ will change all of that.

MountainTrue is grateful for the affected community members who spoke out at hearing after hearing to help secure this victory, as well as for grassroots organizers all across the state and partner organizations like the Southern Environmental Law Center who made this outcome possible. We will continue to monitor this process closely, and we call on North Carolina’s legislators to help ensure that DEQ’s decision is implemented efficiently and justly for the people of North Carolina.”

Julie Mayfield, Co-Director for MountainTrue

For more information: https://deq.nc.gov/news/press-releases/2019/04/01/deq-orders-duke-energy-excavate-coal-ash-six-remaining-sites

 

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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.

Press Release: Whitewater Kayakers Receive Grant to Save Hemlock Trees in Green River Gorge

Press Release: Whitewater Kayakers Receive Grant to Save Hemlock Trees in Green River Gorge

Press Release: Whitewater Kayakers Receive Grant to Save Hemlock Trees in Green River Gorge

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Whitewater Kayakers Receive $8,000 Grant from the Community Foundation of Henderson County to Save Hemlock Trees in Green River Gorge

Media Contact:       
Gray Jernigan
Green Riverkeeper and Southern Regional Director, MountainTrue
E: gray@mountaintrue.org  P: (828) 692-0385 x 1004

Nov. 9, 2018

Hendersonville, NC – The Paddlers Hemlock Health Action Taskforce (PHHAT), a group of whitewater kayakers, nonprofit and government partners working to save hemlock trees in the Green River Gorge, has received an $8,000 grant from the Perry N. Rudnick Endowment Fund of the Community Foundation of Henderson County. PHHAT’s mission is to save hemlock trees from the hemlock woolly adelgid, a non-native invasive insect from East Asia that is decimating hemlock tree populations in the Southeast.

The grant from the Community Foundation of Henderson County will fund this work for the next year and purchase equipment for PHHAT volunteers teams. “The health of the Green is so closely tied with the health of the hemlocks,” said Gray Jernigan, Green Riverkeeper and Southern Regional Director of MountainTrue. “We are so grateful for this funding to allow us to continue this project for another year and save more trees that are vitally important to the forest and river ecosystem.”

Many of the largest hemlocks along the Green River are found in the Green River Gorge, whose steep terrain make the trees inaccessible by foot. Since 2017, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, the Hemlock Restoration Initiative, American Whitewater and MountainTrue’s Green Riverkeeper have come together to train local paddlers in hemlock treatment techniques and safety protocols. The paddlers then navigate the Green River’s tricky waters to bury pellets of a hydrophobic pesticide around the roots of hemlock trees. Currently the only reliable remedy, this treatment protects the trees for up to 5 years.

As a foundation species, hemlock trees play a vital role in structuring ecosystems. Active when deciduous trees are not, hemlock trees stabilize riverbanks, regulate river flows, and balance river temperatures, among other important functions.

The hemlock woolly adelgid feeds off the trees’ sap and starch, disrupting their nutrient processes and eventually killing off the trees. First reported in Virginia in 1951, the hemlock woolly adelgid has spread to 20 states from Georgia to Maine and one Canadian province.

“As land managers, we often rely on the help of volunteers and partners to expand the capacity of work needed to conserve our Game Lands,” said Ryan Jacobs, Wildlife Forest Manager for NC Wildlife Resources Commission. “The work these paddlers are taking on here at Green River would never have happened without their passion for this special place.”

“Our hope is to see our program mirrored in other waterways across the region and even around the nation,” said Kevin Colburn, National Stewardship Director for American Whitewater. “As kayakers, it’s great to be able to give back to some of the places that have given us so much as a community.”

For additional information on the project, please visit paddlersforhemlocks.com.

MountainTrue champions resilient forests, clean waters and healthy communities in Western North Carolina. To this end, MountainTrue fosters and empowers advocates throughout the region to be engaged in policy and project advocacy, outreach and education, and on-the-ground projects.

The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission is the state government agency tasked with conserving and sustaining the state’s fish and wildlife resources through research, scientific management, wise use and public input. The Commission is also the regulatory agency responsible for enforcing the state’s fishing, hunting, trapping and boating laws.  

The Hemlock Restoration Initiative, a program of WNC Communities, works with the NCDA&CS, the USDA-FS and others to ensure that eastern and Carolina hemlocks can withstand the deadly hemlock woolly adelgid and survive to maturity on North Carolina’s public and private lands.

American Whitewater advocates for the preservation and protection of whitewater rivers throughout the United States, and connects the interests of human-powered recreational river users with ecological and science-based data to achieve the goals within its mission.

The Community Foundation of Henderson County supports charitable programs in the greater Henderson County area. Founded in 1982, the Community Foundation administers over 500 funds with assets of over $100 million.

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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.

Hendersonville Green Drinks: Why Bees?

Hendersonville Green Drinks: Why Bees?

Hendersonville Green Drinks: Why Bees?

On Thursday, September 13, Hendersonville Green Drinks welcomes Jim Poe with the Henderson County Beekeepers Association. He will talk about why bees are getting so much attention these days – what’s the big deal! The immense value of bees to the production of food is difficult to calculate, but suffice it to say, it’s not just honey that benefits humans. Photographer turned beekeeper, Poe manages 34 of his own hives, plus helps others with theirs. 

Who: Jim Poe, Henderson County Beekeepers Association
What: September’s Green Drinks Topic: Why Bees?
When: September 13, 2018 – 5:30 networking, 6:00 presentation
Where: Black Bear Coffee, 318 N. Main St. Hendersonville, NC

Having lived in Hendersonville as a youngster, Jim Poe moved back to continue his 30-year career as a photographer by opening a studio on Haywood Road, James Poe Photography. Then, after a 6-year stint in Southwest Colorado, he moved back to western NC again. He says, “Although photography has been great to me, it’s honeybees that now have my heart!” In 2014 he attended a Bee School put on by the Henderson County Beekeepers Association and was hooked! Poe now serves on their board as Director of External Communications; and considers bees almost a full-time job.

About Hendersonville Green Drinks
Hendersonville Green Drinks is presented by MountainTrue, Conserving Carolina and Black Bear Coffee Company. Come to Green Drinks to learn more about current environmental issues, have relevant discussions, and meet with like-minded people. This is a monthly event and everyone is welcome. You don’t have to drink at Green Drinks, just come and listen. Black Bear Coffee offers beer, wine, coffee drinks and sodas. A limited food menu is available.


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.

Sept. 8: Take Part in Big Sweep!

Sept. 8: Take Part in Big Sweep!

Sept. 8: Take Part in Big Sweep!

Join GreenWorks and MountainTrue’s French Broad, Green and Watauga Riverkeepers for the 2018 Big Sweep  – Western North Carolina’s largest single-day river, roadside and creek cleanup. Last year, we broke records for attendance and tons of litter and garbage removed from our rivers, streams and roadsides. This year, help us do even more by taking part in a cleanup event at Westfeldt River Park in Mills River, the Green River Gorge in Saluda, Lake Adger or along the Watauga River.

Cleanups are paired with after parties at Sierra Nevada Brewing in Mills River and Appalachian Mountain Brewery, where cleanup volunteers will gather to celebrate their hard work and enjoy great beer.

GreenWorks, French Broad Riverkeeper and Green Riverkeeper After Party at Sierra Nevada: After the cleanups, join the French Broad Riverkeeper and the Green Riverkeeper at Sierra Nevada for an after party with beer and live music. Everyone will have a chance to win some great prizes from ENO, NOC, and more.

Watauga Riverkeeper After Party at Appalachian Mountain Brewery: After the cleanup, join the Watauga Riverkeeper at Appalachian Mountain Brewery (AMB) in Boone to celebrate our hard work and enjoy some great beer. AMB is a founding business and community leader for the One Percent for the Watauga initiative. So, come drink some great local beer and help protect the river at the same time.

2018 Big Sweep sponsors are 98.1 the River, French Broad Outfitters, Mills River Partnership, Asheville Outdoor Center, Lazy Otter Outfitters, Sierra Nevada Brewing, Appalachian Mountain Brewery, Nantahala Outdoors Center (NOC) and Eagles Nest Outfitter (ENO).

— Sept. 8 Big Sweep Events  —

French Broad River Watershed:

  • Westfeldt Park Cleanup with Sierra Nevada Brewing After Party: Join GreenWorks and the French Broad Riverkeeper for a float, cleanup of our river, and an after party at Sierra Nevada Brewing’s Mills River location. The first ten folks to register will receive the 2018 Recover Brands Riverkeeper Beer Series shirt. Register here. 

Green River Watershed:

  • Green Whitewater Cleanup: Paddle the whitewater of the Green River Gorge and help us pick of litter and haul out river debris along the way. After party at Sierra Nevada Brewing in Mills River. Please bring your own boat! Meet at: 2302 Green River Cove Rd, Saluda, NC 28773
  • Lake Adger Cleanup: Meet us the Lake Adger Boat Ramp and Marina to help us clean up beautiful Lake Adger and its shoreline. After party at Sierra Nevada Brewing in Mills River. Meet at: https://goo.gl/maps/m1coW8qfTMJ2  

    Register for both cleanups here.

Watauga River Watershed:

  • Watauga River Cleanup at Guy Ford Road River Access: Meet us at the Guy Ford Road River Access and help us clean up this popular swimming hole and recreation area. Register 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.

Before You Go Out on the Watauga: Check the SwimGuide for the Latest Water Quality Reports

Before You Go Out on the Watauga: Check the SwimGuide for the Latest Water Quality Reports

Before You Go Out on the Watauga: Check the SwimGuide for the Latest Water Quality Reports

Watauga Riverkeeper Monitors Water Quality at Eight Locations; Data Posted to International Website

Swimmers, paddlers and anglers heading out for a day on the river have a new resource for checking water safety, the SwimGuide.org – a website that provides free real-time water quality information for over 7,000 beaches, lakes, rivers and swimming holes in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, the Bahamas and Australia.

Watauga Riverkeeper and MountainTrue High Country Director Andy Hill runs MountainTrue’s weekly bacteria monitoring program through which volunteers adopt sites and take regular samples.

“The Swim Guide is an amazing resource and our participation is only possible because of our dedicated volunteers,” explains Watauga Riverkeeper and MountainTrue High Country Director Andy Hill. “They’re providing a crucial service to our community, reassuring people and families when it’s safe to get out and swim, fish and paddle.”

Data from our bacteria monitoring program is now loaded up to the SwimGuide.org for the following eight locations:

The monitoring done at sites listed at Swim Guide is to document and alert the public to the elevated e. Coli levels that typically follow heavy rain events. Additionally, MountainTrue also does VWIN (Volunteer Water Information Network) monitoring for chemical parameters and SMIE (Stream Monitoring Information Exchange) monitoring – which documents organisms in the  benthic zone to give us a holistic picture of water quality.

Results and historical data are available at swimguide.org. There is also a free smartphone Swim Guide App available for download from Apple App Store and Google Play. A Green status icon means that most recent test results met relevant water quality standards, a red icon means that the most recent tests failed, and a grey icon means that the site hasn’t been tested within the past seven days.

Check the Water Quality of Your Favorite Rivers and Streams

Swim Guide delivers free real-time water quality information for over 7,000 beaches, lakes, rivers, and swimming holes in Canada, the U.S., Mexico, New Zealand, the Bahamas, and Australia.


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.