How DENR ran interference for Duke Energy and let the Dan River spill happen

The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) knew since at least last August that Duke Energy was illegally polluting the Dan River with coal ash, yet the agency did nothing about it.

That inaction proved to be disastrous, when seven months later, Duke Energy employees discovered the utility’s coal ash pond in Eden was leaking 30,000–39,000 tons of coal ash and contaminated material into the river, the third-largest such accident in North Carolina history.

In the weeks following the Feb. 2 spill, Duke Energy and DENR, under Gov. Pat McCrory—previously a 28-year employee of the utility—have come under federal investigation. The details of that investigation have not been released, but close observers think the probe will focus on how DENR used the federal Clean Water Act to run interference for Duke Energy.

“The Clean Water Act delegates responsibility and authority to this agency to enforce the law,” DENR Secretary John Skvarla said at a press conference last Wednesday, adding that DENR didn’t hesitate to “initiate action.”

However, DENR’s own data, collected from 2011–2013, shows that the groundwater near Duke Energy’s Dan River plant had been contaminated with toxic coal ash but the agency did nothing about it. Meanwhile, it used legal maneuvers to prevent citizens groups from suing the utility. Continue reading

Oil spill shuts down 65 miles of the Mississippi river

Originally posted on Climate Connections:

By Katie Valentine, February 24, 2014. Source: Climate Progress
In this aerial photo, river traffic is halted along the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Vacherie, La., due to a barge leaking oil in St. James Parish, La., Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014.  Photo: AP PHOTO/GERALD HERBERT

In this aerial photo, river traffic is halted along the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Vacherie, La., due to a barge leaking oil in St. James Parish, La., Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014. Photo: AP PHOTO/GERALD HERBERT

An oil spill has shut down 65 miles of the Mississippi River in New Orleans, as authorities work to clean up the oil.

The spill occurred on Saturday when a barge carrying oil crashed into a tugboat between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Authorities closed the stretch of river on Sunday and still can’t say exactly how much oil was spilled, though a light sheen of oil is being reported. No injuries were reported from the crash.

In St. Charles Parish, public drinking water intakes along the Mississippi were closed as a precaution, but a news release Sunday assured the public that the water…

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Al Jazeera Reports on NC Coal Ash Spill & Investigation

Subpoena caps bad week for fossil fuel

by February 13, 2014 7:00PM ET
US attorney’s office seeks documents related to Feb. 2 spill of coal ash into a river in North Carolina
ash

The Dan River as it appeared after the coal ash spill Feb. 5, three days after the accident.

Gerry Broome/AP

Federal authorities have launched a criminal investigation into the massive coal ash spill into North Carolina’s Dan River, targeting both the energy company responsible for the ash pond that leaked and the state’s environmental regulator.

The subpoena of Duke Energy, the company at fault for the North Carolina spill, bookends a bad week for the U.S. fossil fuels industry, including a coal slurry spill in West Virginia and a fire at hydraulic fracturing well in Pennsylvania. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, pumps water and chemicals into the ground to release gas trapped in rock.

The coal ash spilled in North Carolina is a byproduct of burning coal to make electricity and contains harmful chemicals, including arsenic. So far, authorities do not believe the spill poses a threat to drinking water, although the ash spiked arsenic levels in the river, turning it into a chalky gray soup. Continue reading

BREAKING: Earth First! Disrupts Florida Power and Light Company

by Earth First! Newswire

All photos can be seen here!

Update 1:20 PM —  All locked-down protesters have been cut out and arrested. We don’t know yet what they are being charged with, but we expect they will need support.
Support our friends who have put their bodies on the line!  DONATE TO THE LEGAL FUND HERE to help folks get out of jail.

Update 1:00 PM — First person has been cut out of the lock-down and is now in police custody.

Lockdown at the front gate!

Lockdown at the front gate!

Update 12:20 PM — Sheriff Emergency Force Team has arrived on site.  Locked-down individuals have been told that if they do not unlock they will be charged with trespassing and resisting arrest nonviolently.

*More photos here. More to come!*

For Immediate Release—February 24, 2014:

Earth First! Disrupts Florida Power and Light in Protest Over Proposed Power Plant Near Seminole Reservation

Juno, FL – Over 80 activists with Earth First! groups from across the country converged at the Florida Power and Light (FPL) Headquarters this morning. Five protestors locked their necks together, disrupting business operations at the second largest energy company in the nation. Their primary concern is a proposal to construct a fossil fuel power plant in Hendry County, on the border of the Big Cypress Seminole Reservation. Continue reading

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Tell FPL To Stop Plans for New Natural Gas Facilities

MEMEfpl

Protesters attempting to stop a proposed power plant near the Big Cypress Seminole reservation in Florida need your support. Spread this meme
FPL must scrap the plans for the natural gas plant in Hendry county! “This proposal is an act of environmental racism against indigenous people and an attack on the Everglades. If we stand by and do nothing, we are also complicit in this injustice,” says Christian Minaya of Everglades Earth First!, a group based in Palm Beach County.

“It’s Not an Accident, It’s a Disaster:” The Water Crisis in West Virginia

by Wiley Cypress / Earth First! Newswire

[Earth First! Journal editor's note: The Elk River chemical spill is not a past crisis. The water supply for thousands of Appalachians is still poisoned and friends at West Virginia Clean Water Hub have been working tirelessly to meet demands for clean water. See how you can support them regionally by volunteering or donating water, or from afar by donating cash.]

Contaminated water from the kitchen taps at Midland Trail Elementary School in Riverside, WV Monday. Photo: Rachel Molenda / WV Gazette

Contaminated water from the kitchen taps at Midland Trail Elementary School in Riverside, WV Monday. Photo: Rachel Molenda / WV Gazette

Only a month has passed since Freedom Industries spilled 7500 gallons of 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol into Elk River, poisoning the water supply for 300,000 West Virginians. Yet mainstream media coverage of the disaster has almost disappeared. This week, for example, MSNBC pulled a story on the chemical spill to make room for more newsreel about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s traffic scandal.

Still, on the ground, “The overwhelming reality is that the water is not safe,” said Gnat, a volunteer with West Virginia Clean Water Hub (CWH) in an interview with Earth First! Journal yesterday. “It’s not an accident, it’s a disaster,” said Gnat. Continue reading

Help Print Thousands of the New Direct Action Manual!

The journal is nearly half way to its fundraising goal!  help them get this critical manual to activists everywhere.

Donate here: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/earth-first-direct-action-manual

The Time Is Now

Have you noticed things aren’t really getting better? Have you started to think it’s time for radical change? When you hear about activists intervening on business as usual, do you think about how much you’d like to be a part of the action?

The world is facing cataclysmic changes, staggering economic inequity and an empire bent on keeping the status quo with an omnipresent police state. The time is now.

We’ll Show You How

A group of frontline activists has come together to update and revise the Earth First! Direct Action Manual. The manual was originally published nearly two decades ago. Tactics have changed and the landscape of bridges to rappel from, buildings to lockdown to and roads to rip has changed over time. This manual has over 300 pages filled with diagrams, planning and descriptions on how to implement effective and safe actions.

Spread the Know

There are a couple of things you ought to know about this campaign:

  • The Earth First! Direct Action Manual will be printed on recycled paper at a community-minded, union print shop called The Gloo Factory.
  • We are committed to getting this manual out to people who will use it. When you give more than the price of the book, you are directly supporting a campaign of your choice to receive a free copy.
  • This edition of the manual shows the breadth and experience of the Earth First! community and over thirty years as a voice in defense of the Earth and all its inhabitants.
  • Donate here

Get in on the action!

Give today and get our presses rolling on this critical book.

Glacier’s Edge Earth First! Fights Back Against State Forest Logging

from Glacier’s Edge Earth First!

GEEF

To celebrate Valentine’s Day, Glacier’s Edge Earth First! showed our love for Indiana’s wild forests with a demonstration at an active logging site in Morgan-Monroe State Forest. Ten forest defenders walked onto the site carrying banners that read “Make Like a Leaf and Get the Fuck Out”, “Defend What Remains”, and an Earth flag that read “Luv It or Leave It.” Work was temporarily halted as GEEF!ers stood in front of a logging truck and expressed their opposition to the pillaging of public lands for private profit. Continue reading

Victory! Vermont biomass power plant denied approval on basis of greenhouse gas emissions

Originally posted on Climate Connections:

February 11, 2014. Source: Partnership for Policy Integrity

McNeil biomass plant in Burlington, Vermont. Photo: Josh Schlossberg

McNeil biomass plant in Burlington, Vermont. Photo: Josh Schlossberg

In a final decision reached today on the fate of the 35 MW North Springfield Sustainable Energy biomass plant proposed in Vermont, the Vermont Public Service Board (PSB) denied the plant a certificate of public good, stating that the project would interfere with the State’s ability to meet statutory goals for reducing greenhouse gases “as a result of the large annual releases of greenhouse gases that would result from combustion of the wood fuel.”

“This is an important decision for the state of Vermont, and nationally”, said Mary Booth, Director of the Partnership for Policy Integrity, an organization that helped the citizen opponents, the North Springfield Action Group, contest the facility in front of the PSB.  “When policymakers see that bioenergy involves harvesting forests and burning the wood in low-efficiency power plants, they conclude…

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Second chemical spill in West Virginia river

Originally posted on Climate Connections:

February 11, 2014. Source: AllVoices
Another chemical spill in W. Virginia; Kanawha Eagle Plant leaks coal slurry into Fields Creek.  Photo courtesy Jeremy Edwards

Another chemical spill in W. Virginia; Kanawha Eagle Plant leaks coal slurry into Fields Creek. Photo courtesy Jeremy Edwards

Another coal company has spilled an undetermined amount of chemicals into a West Virginia river, reported The Huffington Post Tuesday.

According to the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, crude MCHM, the same chemical that leaked into the Elk River from last month’s Freedom Industry’s spill, leaked from a broken slurry line into the Kanawha Eagle preparation plant near Winifrede, sometime between midnight Monday and 5:30 a.m. Tuesday.

More than 300,000 residents’ water was contaminated from the Jan. 9 spill from Freedom Industries but West Virginia American Water Company is confident this spill will not affect the water supply of any county because there are no immediate public water intakes downstream to this plant.

West Virginia America Water released a statement assuring the public that their…

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