Friday, December 31, 2010

Fall Lake Rules now in effect

The Environmental Management Commission adopted the Fall Lake Reservoir nutrient management rules, with only some technical changes made by the Rules Review Commission. The rules were not as strong as environmental groups would have preferred (the primary complaint was that the effective date of some of the rules is too far in the future). However, because there were no letters of objection, the rules will go into effect immediately. It is possible that the General Assembly, in the 2011 “long session” will pass legislation to repeal or weaken the rules.
Press coverage of the rules can be found at:

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Falls Lake Rules a disappointment

The Environmental Management Commission has just released its proposed rules for Falls Lake, the drinking water reservoir for most of Wake County. These rules are designed to reduce the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus compounds that run off into the lake, causing algae growth in the lake. These rules will go into effect January 15, unless they are modified by the General Assembly in its session that starts in late January.

The first part of the rules, Stage I, will be implemented over 10 rather than the 7 years in the draft rules. Under the rules, local governments begin, in 2021 to control the pollution that placed the lake in an impaired (polluted) condition in 2006.

Let’s just hope that the legislature does not weaken the rules in their upcoming session.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Please Vote!

Election day is Tuesday, November 2. Polls will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
A list of candidates endorsed by the Capital Group and the NC Chapter of the Sierra Club can be found here.
A list of candidates endorsed by Environment NC can be found here.
A list of candidates endorsed by the Conservation Council of North Carolina can be found here.
Click here to determine you polling place. Click here for more information about voting.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

News Items

Here are some some recent news items that should be of interest to Conserve NC readers:

Landfill Methane energy plant announced
A story in the Cape Fear Business News describes a project in which methane gas, which is produced by the decomposition of material in a Wayne County landfill, will be used to fuel a small power plant with the energy sold to Progress Energy. This is methane (natural gas) that otherwise would have been released to the atmosphere.

More about the Falls Lake water quality
The Raleigh Public Record has a story about the quality of water in Falls Lake and the development of rules to protect the lake.

Bright days for solar energy
A warehouse in Holly Springs uses solar panels on its roof to generate power for use in the building and for sale to Progress Energy, according to a story in the News & Observer.

Most of state now in moderate drought
A story in the News & Observer reports that, according to the state's Drought Management Advisory Council, most of NC is now in a “moderate drought condition”, due to the lack of rainfall and the record breaking temperatures. Parts of Granville, Vance, Warren, and Franklin counties are in a “severe drought condition”. See

Water-gel based “artificial leaves” that produce electricity
Researchers at NC State University have produced solar cells from water-gel based material using plant chlorophyll, according to a story in One India, based in Bangalore, India.

New nuclear plants for Progress Energy?
According to this story in the News & Observer, Progress Energy may be rethinking its plans for future nuclear power units at its Harris nuclear plant in Wake County.

EPA Coal Ash Hearings
This Gaston Gazette story and this story in the Charlotte Observer report on the coal ash hearing the EPA conducted in Charlotte September 14. Molly Diggins, director of the NC Sierra Club, is quoted as saying "there is no agency or individual that can say how much coal ash we are generating, where it’s going, and whether it’s safe".

New 1MW Solar Plant Announced
According to a story in Solar Industry magazine and to their press release, ESA Renewables has been awarded a contract from TVA to build a 1 MW solar power plant, to be located about 200 miles southwest of Charlotte.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Reducing the need for new power plants

Many people don’t know that Progress Energy (the electric power supplier for most people in eastern North Carolina) has a program that can save some money and help prevent the need for new power plants.

The demand for electricity varies during the day. Particularly during the summer, the electric power demand is at its maximum during the afternoon, and less during the night. Power companies such a Progress run their most efficient plants (those that use the least fuel) 24 hours per day. But the least efficient plants are only run during times of high demand (afternoons).

Sometimes the power company cannot meet its peak demand simply by putting additional plants on line. One way of dealing with this situation is “load shedding”, that is, reducing the load when necessary.

Progress Energy has a program to “cycle” air conditioners, turning them off for 15 minutes when there is insufficient generating capability. In this program, a box is placed on the side of central air conditioner compressor units (the outside part). When a reduced load is needed, a signal from a satellite is received by the box, turning the air conditioner off. No phone line connection or internet connection is needed.

The air conditioner interruption will only take place during the week (Monday – Friday, excepting holidays) and between 1pm and 4pm. Most people will not notice any change in temperature.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Obama cancels drilling lease off Virginia coast

This week President Obama canceled a lease for oil drilling off the Virginia coast. This drilling could endanger the coast of North Carolina. Currents could carry spilled oil from the Virginia coast to the Northern Outer Banks, at the point the Gulf Stream, which flows north along the Southeastern US coast, turns and heads out to sea.

For more, see the NC Sierra Club blog post here.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sierra Club Capital Group back with monthly meetings

The Capital Group of the Sierra Club (Wake County) has restarted monthly meetings. The first meeting will be held on Thursday, May 20, 2010. The meeting will be a presentation about the proposed Dix part with Gregory Poole and Bill Padgett, and will be at 7 pm at the Uniterian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh, 3313 Wake Avenue, Raleigh.

Future meetings will be about greenways and trails, water quality and availability, solar energy, and other environmental subjects.

All meetings will be at the same locations and will be held on the third Thursday of each month.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Support for Drilling Decreases in NC

A recent poll by Public Policy Polling about the attitudes of North Carolina residents toward off the coast of NC showed a significant drop in support since the recent accident in the Gulf of Mexico. In April, before the accident, 61% of NC residents approved of drilling off the NC coast, while 26% were opposed. By May 10th, after the accident, the support dropped to 47%, with 38% opposed.

Although support has decreased, it is still surprising that even after the Gulf accident more people support off shore drilling than oppose it.

For more information, click here.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Obama supports off shore drilling

President Obama has announced support for drilling for oil off the coasts of many states, including North Carolina, according to a story in today’s New York Times. The decision is sure to draw praise from many in the oil industry but criticism from people in environmental groups.

If there is an oil spill that affects the coast of North Carolina, the result could devastate both the fishing industry as well as the tourism industry in NC. Many of the elected leaders and candidates for office in NC have vowed to fight against drilling in North Carolina’s waters.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Is Our Drinking Water In Danger, Saturday, 2/27, 9:30 a.m.

The Capital Group is sponsoring a public education forum that will focus on pollution in Falls Lake, one of our key sources of drinking water. Water experts will outline the challenges facing this major drinking water supply and offer greater insight to potential solutions that could be presented in the Falls Lake Rules Process. Come learn why stormwater runoff is a key problem for our drinking water and how you can make a difference! A rain barrel door prize will be awarded to a member of the audience compliments of Rainwater Solutions!