Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Water - Should permits be required?

An editorial in today’s News and Observer correctly pointed out a serious matter that North Carolina, as well as many other states must deal with: Water Allocation. The editorial points out that one company might sink wells into a aquifer and take so much water that other users, such as other factories or towns, would not have enough water.

As the editorial points out, “A scarce, essential resource shouldn't be allocated on the basis of which consumers have the sharpest elbows, the most money or the most clout.” Something may be done about it. The NC General Assembly commissioned a study, led by Richard Whisnant of the UNC School of Government and Bill Holman of Duke University. Likely this study will suggest that the state require permits for water usage exceeding 100,000 gallons per day.

News and Observer Editorial

Draft of Whisnant-Holman report

Friday, October 31, 2008

Time to Vote

Election Day is this Tuesday. If you haven’t already voted in the early voting, be sure to vote on Tuesday. And please consider the environmental issues when you vote.

To help you decide, here are some links to endorsements:
Sierra Club NC Chapter nc.sierraclub.org/politics/2008%20Endorsements.htm

Conservation Council of NC 2008 Legislative Scorecard www.conservationcouncilnc.org/advocacy/scorecard_2008.pdf

CCNC's full slate of 2008 general election statewide and legislative contest endorsements: www.ccnccpac.org/endorsements/2008endorsements.htm

LCV Endorsements in NC: The national League of Conservation Voters (LCV) circulated an email listing its Congressional endorsements in the North Carolina. They are Kay Hagan for U.S. Senate; and Congressional contenders Roy Carter (5th District), Larry Kissell (8th District), Daniel Johnson (10th District), and Rep. Heath Shuler (11th District). More details are available at www.lcv.org.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Wake 'Cool' County House Party, Thursday, 10/9, 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.

Come out to the first informational and strategic planning House Party for the Sierra Club’s Cool County campaign at the home of John and Sabrina Colvard, 3700 Trenton Rd., Raleigh, NC 27607.

You will have the opportunity to see the oldest brick house in Wake County (1804), which has been recently restored to be the oldest Energy Star certified house in the country.

Marvin Woll will present tips he learned as the lead volunteer in the Raleigh Cool City campaign. He has a wealth of information and we are very excited that he has volunteered to help lead our new Wake ‘Cool’ County campaign.

Afterward, we will brainstorm strategic plans for approaching the Board of Commissioners and educating the public about the Cool County project. Your perspective and voice is very important to the County’s progress.

Please RSVP to Kara Craig, NC Cool City Coordinator, Sierra Club at kara.craig@sierraclub.org

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Train travel

After many years of travel around the country, and sometime world, by air, I have started riding the train. Actually, shorter trips, such as from Cary, NC to Washington, DC, are ideal for train travel. Typically the alternative would be to drive. I travel by train to Washington DC to visit family. It certainly beats driving.

I can board the train at the Cary train station and travel to Union Station in Washington, downtown and close to my family member’s office. Parking at the Cary station, like many stations, is free. The trip takes about seven hours, about the same as driving if you include a few stops. On the train I have a seat that has more leg room than first class on airplanes. I can put my lap top computer on the fold down tray and have room to open it, unlike the situation on many airline seats. Many of the seats have 110 volt outlets, so I don’t have to rely on my computer’s battery.

I am free to get up and walk at any time, very important for someone as restless as me.

Most of the time I can find an empty table (or side of a table) in the snack car, making it even more comfortable to use my computer. I can usually plug in my computer at the table.

Most importantly, I am saving fuel, reducing the amount of oil that is imported and reducing the amount of green house gas produced.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Wrightsville Beach May Limit Boat Flushing

Thanks to Mindy at the NC Conservation Network for this.

Wrightsville beach has had a problem recently with high bacteria counts in “Banks Channel”, the sound next to Wrightsville. One of the sources of this problem is sewage, usually untreated, flushed from boats.


The town of Wrightsville Beach is beginning the long process to have the area designated as a no discharge zone.

As someone who has spent years sailing, and sometimes swimming, in Banks Channel, I hope the town is successful in cleaning it up.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Density, Growth, and Transit

Below is a comment I posted on Cary Politics earlier this month, concerning transit but also commenting on density and growth:

Some people like density and some people don’t. There are those who like to live in an urban area, with an apartment or condo in a high rise, retail below, and nothing but concrete outside. There are those who prefer a large or small yard, trees, and the ability to open the windows and listen to all kinds of wildlife outside.

I suspect that those of us who choose to live in Cary prefer the less dense. Those who prefer the dense probably live somewhere else, such as certain areas of Raleigh.

There are several problems with Cary becoming more populous. First, it is not the type of place people wanted when they moved here. Second, more people require more water. Unless someone can figure out how to make it rain more, during drought years we won’t have enough water. Third, more people means more traffic. Our roads are already clogged.

Transit is certainly in our future. Presently most of the time I go to downtown Raleigh I ride the TTA bus, picking up the bus at the Cary train station where I can park my car. The cost of the bus ride is about the same as the cost of gas, and parking is free. I expect that there will, in the future, be more frequent bus trips and more “park and ride” locations in Cary. Transit can reduce the cars used by commuters, but will it have much effect on trips for shopping, taking the kids to wherever, etc? Even those of us driving to the nearest park and ride location are taking up space on the roads of Cary.

Transit is ideal for those of us who frequently travel to a relatively compact area such as downtown Raleigh. But how many of the workers in the spread out buildings of RTP going to ride the bus rather than drive? Transit will save money for many of us. It will assist those who for economic or other reasons cannot drive cars. It will save energy and reduce pollution. However, it will do little to solve the problem of congested roads.

We must expand our transit system. However, we also need to consider limits on our growth, and to think seriously about how many more people western Wake County can hold.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Conserve NC

This new blog, Conserve NC, will provide some news and plenty of opinion about environmental issues facing North Carolina. Many of the issues that will be discussed here are the result of growth in certain parts of NC, particularly Wake County and the Triangle. This growth is affecting water supply, transportation, and all other aspects of our lives.

So stay tuned, and please post any comments you may have.

John A. Shaw

Cary, NC