Tag Archives: carolina

Supreme Court clears way for Atlantic Coast Pipeline to cross Appalachian Trail

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline can cross under the Appalachian Trail, the United States Supreme Court ruled on Monday. By a 7 to 2 margin, the court reversed a lower court’s decision and upheld a permit granted by the U.S. Forest Service that the project’s developers could tunnel under a section of the iconic wilderness in Virginia.

The court took the case after Dominion Energy, one of the largest utilities in the South, appealed a Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling last year that said the U.S. Forest Service violated federal law when it approved the pipeline to cross the Appalachian Trail. The issue, the lower court ruled: It was the National Park Service’s call to approve that request. (Dominion, based in Richmond, Virginia, is the lead developer on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, or ACP, project; North Carolina utility Duke Energy, as well as Southern Company, also own shares.)

The case looked at whether the Forest Service had authority under the Mineral Leasing Act to grant rights-of-way within national forest lands traversed by the Appalachian Trail. “A right-of-way between two agencies grants only an easement across the land, not jurisdiction over the land itself,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the court’s opinion. So the Forest Service had enough authority over the land to grant the permit. The dissent, by Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, argued that the “outcome is inconsistent with the language of three statutes, longstanding agency practice, and common sense.”

According to The Washington Post, the plaintiffs in this case, both Dominion and the Forest Service, had argued that other pipelines cross the Appalachian Trail a total of 34 times. “The Atlantic Coast Pipeline will be no different,” Dominion said in a statement after the decision. “To avoid impacts to the Trail, the pipeline will be installed hundreds of feet below the surface and emerge more than a half-mile from each side of the Trail.”

The decision could set an important precedent for public lands, said Greg Buppert, senior attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center, or SELC, which is involved in multiple lawsuits against the pipeline. This particular Appalachian Trail section on federal land, which is remote, rugged, and wild, “deserves the highest protection the law provides,” according to Buppert. But this ruling likely signals to developers of the 300-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline that they could have an easier time crossing under the trail at a separate location in Virginia; attorneys for the nearly-complete project called it a “key missing link,” the Roanoke Times reported.

Though this decision is significant, it doesn’t determine the ultimate fate of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. While the Supreme Court has granted the Forest Service the ability to allow the project to cross the Appalachian Trail, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals’ striking down of the Forest Service’s permit still stands. Dominion is required to look at other routes that avoid parcels of protected federal land, and the Forest Service is prohibited from approving a route across these lands, if reasonable alternatives exist, according to Buppert.

The view west along the Appalachian Trail at Cedar Cliffs, in Virginia, where the Atlantic Coast Pipeline would be tunneled under the historic trail and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Norm Shafer / Getty Images

Dominion still requires eight more permits for the 600-mile pipeline route, including an air pollution permit from Virginia regulators for a controversial compressor station in Union Hill, a historically black community. It also still needs approval to cross the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway and a new biological opinion from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about endangered species that were not taken into consideration in the original environmental impact statement. Several landowners along the route through West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina are also still fighting to retain their property from eminent domain claims.

That means five-and-a-half years after the project was proposed, Buppert said, “there’s significant uncertainty about what the ACP route even is right now.”

In addition to crossing protected federal lands, the current route traverses steep mountains and many rural, low-income areas and communities of color, including Union Hill, a town settled by freed slaves after the Civil War. “These risks were known when it was proposed, but developers elected to push it forward anyway, and used political pressure on agencies to move their permits through faster,” Buppert said. “Not surprisingly, those haven’t withstood judicial reviews.”

Dominion spokesperson Samantha Norris did not respond to specific questions about the route, but said in an email the company is “working diligently with the agencies to resolve our pending permits so we can resume construction later this year” and complete it by 2022. “We remain fully committed to the project for the good of our economy and to support the transition to clean energy,” she said. “And we do not anticipate any changes to the route.”

Construction officially halted in December 2018 over the Appalachian Trail permit, with less than 10 percent of the pipeline in the ground. Opponents applauded that development, but continue to report problems with some construction sites. On behalf of 15 environmental and community groups, SELC lawyers filed a motion on June 1 asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, to supplement its environmental impact statement from its 2017 approval of the pipeline. The motion states that “substantial erosion, sedimentation, and slope failures have occurred” along the route, and that FERC needs to take climate change and other issues into account in updating its assessment.

The U.S. is in the midst of a historic pipeline boom to create infrastructure for the excess stores of natural gas coming from shale regions in Appalachia and West Texas, and FERC has historically approved nearly every pipeline project that has come across its desk. Despite massive protests breaking out in 2016 to try to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline passing through the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, dozens of new pipeline projects across the country are still being proposed, FERC is still approving them, and state lawmakers have passed laws to crack down on anti-pipeline demonstrations.

Opponents of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline have been fighting the project for six years and have won several important legal cases recently. A federal appeals court last month rejected the Trump administration’s request to revive the Army Corps of Engineers’ nationwide permit program for new oil and gas pipelines. The ruling prohibits the agency from allowing companies to fast-track projects by obtaining a single permit for all its water crossings, rather than individual permits for each one. The decision could further delay the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which had its nationwide water crossings permit suspended in 2018. The project has over a thousand stream, river, and wetland crossings. In the Calfpasture River watershed in Virginia alone, Buppert said, the current route includes 71.

The community of Union Hill has also successfully challenged part of the project on the grounds that it could cause negative public health impacts. Developers plan to build one of three pipeline compressor stations — which keep natural gas flowing through the pipe — there. In January, a federal court ruled Virginia’s Air Pollution Control Board’s review of the station was “arbitrary and capricious.” The judge overturned the permit, saying the “failure to consider the disproportionate impact on those closest to the compressor station resulted in a flawed analysis.” She, along with two of her colleagues, ordered the board to reconsider the case.

Members of the community group Friends of Buckingham County, where Union Hill is located, are concerned residents lack enough information about Dominion’s new air permit application — especially during the COVID-19 pandemic — since many lack broadband access. Chad Oba, one of the group’s organizers, said they are focusing on longer-term solutions, too, like making sure the board is well-versed in environmental justice issues. (In addition, they want to keep the board apolitical: In 2018, Virginia’s Democratic governor, Ralph Northam, removed two regulators from the board who were leaning against the permit).

The pandemic has also thrown a wrench in the work of Friends of Nelson County, another Virginia group that opposes the pipeline. About 45 miles of the Appalachian Trail cross through the county; this the contested crossing is on its border in the Blue Ridge Mountains. “The most important thing we do is to inform and educate the public about all dimensions of the pipeline and related matters,” said president Doug Wellman. The organization does a lot of in-person outreach at farmers’ markets and public meetings. Now they’re trying to do it all virtually. Later this year, they plan to launch a major campaign about the major potential dangers of the pipeline, including primers on landowner rights and eminent domain.

Due to the delays in its construction, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s price tag has swelled by at least $3 billion to a total of $8 billion. Since federal regulators allow pipeline companies up to a 14 percent return on investment, payable by its customers, Dominion and Duke, who are the buyers of the natural gas in addition to being the project’s developers, can turn a profit by passing construction costs onto ratepayers in a region where they have monopolies.

These costs “will take decades to recover,” said Ryke Longest, co-director of the Environmental Law and Policy Clinic at Duke University. And while they wait to be made whole, utilities like Dominion will eschew investing in other programs like energy efficiency and renewables, even as states in the region, including Virginia and North Carolina, move forward with clean energy and climate change legislation.

“The real problem with the structure of our energy system is that it encourages large-scale construction projects,” Longest said. “It’s not thinking of energy as a public service business, which is what it’s supposed to be.”

Lyndsey Gilpin is Durham, North Carolina-based journalist and the editor of Southerly, an independent, non-profit media organization that covers the intersection of ecology, justice, and culture in the American South.

Read the article:

Supreme Court clears way for Atlantic Coast Pipeline to cross Appalachian Trail

Posted in Accent, alo, FF, GE, LAI, LG, ONA, solar, solar panels, The Atlantic, Ultima, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Supreme Court clears way for Atlantic Coast Pipeline to cross Appalachian Trail

On top of everything, hurricane season is here and most Americans don’t have flood insurance

Monday was the official first day of the Atlantic hurricane season, though the season unofficially began early for the sixth straight year when the first named storm of the season, Tropical Storm Arthur, brushed up against North Carolina’s Outer Banks in mid-May. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasts an above-normal season ahead — between 13 and 19 named storms.

If some of those storms make landfall, they’ll bring flooding with them. Americans could be in for a very wet few months, following spring floods that toppled a dam in Michigan, forcing the evacuation of 11,000 people, and brought half a foot of rain to western North Carolina in the span of 24 hours. A new survey commissioned by National Flood Services, a flood insurance administration company, shows homeowners are ill-equipped to handle that flooding, even though a majority consider themselves ready.

Sixty-two percent of homeowners across the nation say they’re prepared for a flood, but the survey revealed that just 12 percent of them have flood insurance — property insurance for residential and commercial properties that covers water damage from flooding. Premiums for this insurance, which is subsidized by the federal government, range from $573 to $1,395 annually.

The survey, conducted by The Harris Poll on more than 2,000 U.S. adults in April, found that half of respondents are actually less interested in buying insurance because of the coronavirus pandemic, which has put more than 40 million Americans out of work and caused a historic economic recession. A measly six percent of homeowners making less than $50,000 a year have flood insurance, and six percent of homeowners between the ages of 55 and 64 have it.

Other surveys show that 80 percent of Texas homeowners, 60 percent of Florida homeowners, and 99 percent of Puerto Rico homeowners don’t have flood insurance. All three places have been inundated with tropical storm–related flooding in recent years.

“We’re entering into another season, we’re building more homes in the floodplain, we know we have aging infrastructure,” said A.R. Siders, assistant professor at the University of Delaware’s Disaster Research Center. “We don’t know that information is getting out to people — that they are understanding the risks they are facing.” So why do so few of us have flood insurance?

There are lots of ways to answer that question. The Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) only requires people who buy homes in designated flood plains to buy flood insurance. For Americans who don’t live in those areas, flood insurance can seem like an unnecessary expense. Some folks don’t know that their regular home insurance doesn’t cover flooding from storms and other sources of water damage beyond something like a burst pipe. Still others underestimate the risk of flooding in their areas or don’t realize their homes are in areas prone to flooding in the first place.

Some states — 21, to be exact — don’t even require real estate agents and home sellers to tell buyers when a home is in a FEMA-designated flood zone that requires flood insurance. “When you buy a house, they don’t have to tell you if your house is in the floodplain,” Siders said. “You look at Carfax and figure out if your car has had a dinged bumper, but making one of the largest financial purchases of your life, like a house, you can’t figure out if it’s in a flood zone.”

What’s more, FEMA’s flood maps don’t tell the whole story. “I don’t think it’s widely appreciated that the flood risk is much greater than just being in a designated 100-year floodplain,” Jim Blackburn, a professor in practice at Rice University, told Grist. An 100-year floodplain is an area that has a one in 100 percent chance of flooding annually. Extensive flooding, Blackburn said, can happen in a lot of places with little warning.

And that’s a problem that’s going to get worse. The size, scope, and frequency of floods are changing rapidly, in part because climate change causes heavier rains and more severe storms. By the end of the century, America’s flood plains could increase in size by 45 percent. FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program, which is the main way people get flood insurance in this country and is administered by flood insurance companies, could increase its number of annual policies 80 percent by the year 2100. “FEMA is chronically underfunded, so a lot of their flood maps are out of date. Climate change means that the flood maps are changing really quickly, and then FEMA flood maps don’t take climate change into account,” Siders said. “So they can only tell you what your historic flood risk was, not what it will be in 10 years.”

As coronavirus restrictions ease and Americans try to get back on their feet, hurricane season and the associated flooding could knock them flat again. One way to protect homeowners from compounding risks in the future is to make sure they see the full picture before they sign on the dotted line. “If you have to pay tens of thousands every year to live in a home, that signals to you that it’s truly risky to live in this house,” Siders said, referring to the government’s practice of heavily subsidizing homes in flood zones. “When we subsidize it, we hide that, and so people don’t necessarily know how at risk they are.”


On top of everything, hurricane season is here and most Americans don’t have flood insurance

Posted in Accent, alo, FF, GE, LAI, ONA, PUR, The Atlantic, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on On top of everything, hurricane season is here and most Americans don’t have flood insurance

The Trump administration is helping 9 states prepare for climate change

When extreme weather hits the United States, coastal Southern states tend to get the worst of it. Just look at the past few years: In 2017, Texas, Louisiana, and the Carolinas were hit with back-to-back hurricanes, which left parts of those states submerged and displaced hundreds of thousands of people. The two years preceding that were rough on the South, too — flooding related to hurricanes Joaquin and Matthew killed dozens of Americans and cost the United States billions combined.

Any climate scientist will tell you that the natural disasters of the past few years pale in comparison to the climate change-fueled weather events coming down the pike. If state legislators were savvy, they would have taken steps years ago to protect their citizens from what’s ahead. The problem is, some of those hurricane-magnet states also happen to be governed by climate deniers.

In 2018, Congress devised a plan to help disaster-ravaged states actually prepare for extreme weather for a change, and President Trump signed off on it. It’s the first time national legislation has designed block grants to help states prepare for future disasters, rather than just clean up damage from ones that have already occurred.

That money, $16 billion of federal funding, will soon be released — more than half will go to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the rest will go to nine mainland U.S. states. The states that got the most money to prepare for climate change all went for Trump in 2016 and are all under at least partial Republican control: Texas is getting upwards of $4 billion, Louisiana is getting $1.2 billion, Florida $633 million, North Carolina $168 million, and South Carolina $158 million. Missouri, California, West Virginia, and Georgia are also getting grants. There’s a reason why a bunch of Republican trifecta states accepted climate change mitigation money without a fuss: none of them had to actually acknowledge climate change to access the funds.

That’s because, when the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) solicited proposals from the states explaining how they aim to use the funds, it didn’t require them to take climate change into account, even though the money being handed out by the department will be used to protect states from the effects of rising temperatures. Instead, the department asked the grantees to describe their “current and future risks,” based on the latest available science. HUD didn’t even use the terms “global warming” and “climate change” in its request for proposals, though it did ask states to take “continued sea level rise” into consideration. The task of drawing up the states’ proposals generally fell to housing and community development specialists at state general land offices or housing departments.

The results are telling, as the New York Times reported last week: Florida and North Carolina’s applications said climate change poses a major risk to their states. South Carolina and Texas ignored the issue entirely, instead using phrases like “changing coastal conditions” and the “destabilizing effects and unpredictability” of disasters. Louisiana mentioned climate change once on the last page of its plan.

It might seem like allowing states to sidestep climate change is just another way the Trump administration is undermining science, but HUD’s reluctance to compel states to explicitly say they’re preparing for rising temperatures might actually be a good thing. “There are still states where it’s a political lightning rod to acknowledge that climate change is responsible for damage,” Marion McFadden, head of disaster-recovery grants at HUD during the Obama administration, told Grist. “HUD is focusing on the plans, not the root cause of the need to mitigate.” Whether Republican states accept the reality of climate change or not, they’re starting to prepare for it — which could save lives and prevent economic damage down the line.

“Climate change clearly is the motivation behind Congress making the money available, and HUD is making the funds available to communities to put together their own plans for what they want to do at the state or the local level,” McFadden said. “They have to use the best science and the best data available, they just don’t have to connect the dots explicitly.”

Regardless of HUD’s stance on climate change, it seems as though climate-denying state officials could soon face pushback from their own constituents. In Texas, Republicans control the state house, senate, and governor’s office. But the top elected official in Harris County, Texas’ most populous county, thinks climate change is a major problem for the state. “If we’re serious about breaking the cycle of flooding and recovery we have to shift the paradigm on how we do things, and that means putting science above politics,” Lina Hidalgo, a Democrat, said in a statement to the Times. Two-thirds of Texas voters, Republican and Democratic, are in favor of government action to combat the climate crisis, and a third are strongly in favor of it, a recent poll shows. It might not be long before the Texas officials are forced to start connecting those dots.

See the original post – 

The Trump administration is helping 9 states prepare for climate change

Posted in Accent, alo, Citizen, FF, GE, LAI, LG, ONA, Pines, solar, solar panels, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Trump administration is helping 9 states prepare for climate change

CNN and the New York Times skip climate change in the fourth Democratic debate

Moderators of the three previous Democratic primary debates caught a lot of flak from environmental advocates for not spending enough time on climate change. On Tuesday night, moderators of the fourth debate paved the way for a new era of climate politics by featuring warming front and center. Just kidding. In actuality not a single question about the biggest threat facing residents of the United States, and the world, was asked of the 12 candidates who qualified for the debate.

That’s despite the fact that CNN, one of the night’s two host media organizations, recently held a climate change-themed town hall during which moderators grilled candidates on all angles of the issue. The New York Times, the other host, has a team of journalists specifically assigned to climate stories. (CNN even ran a Times ad touting its climate coverage during one of the debate’s commercial breaks). And yet, somehow, CNN and the Times were unable to muster even a yes/no question about a crisis that is projected to claim millions of lives and alter the world as we know it.

Instead, the candidates were asked about hot topics in recent news cycles, like about whether President Trump should be impeached and the commander-in-chief’s recent decision to pull troops out of Syria — as well as topics that have come up previously, like gun control, a wealth tax, and the minutiae of single-payer health care versus Medicare for all versus “Medicare for all who want it.” That’s all well and good: It’s certainly important that voters hear from the candidates on those issues. But at the 11th hour, when it seemed the moderators might finally ask the candidates a question about climate change, they delivered a disappointment of epic proportions.

Fifteen minutes before the end of the three-hour debate, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper referenced a recent controversy that erupted when a photograph of comedian and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres and George W. Bush watching a Cowboys game together surfaced. “I think that we’ve forgotten that that’s O.K. that we’re all different,” DeGeneres, a lesbian and self-identified liberal said in response to the backlash about her hang with the former Republican president. “In that spirit, we’d like you to tell us about a friendship that you’ve had that would surprise us and what impact it’s had on you and your beliefs,” Cooper said to the candidates.

That’s right. Moderators opted to go with a question about Ellen DeGeneres and friendship over the climate crisis. Climate experts and activists were … not pleased.

Even some of the candidates themselves took to Twitter to voice their displeasure with the moderators.

One former candidate, climate hawk and Washington State Governor Jay Inslee, had to weigh in.

Not all hope is lost. The moderators dropped the ball (and then kicked it into a flaming volcano), but several candidates managed to sneak flicks at the climate crisis into their answers on other topics. Bernie Sanders talked about how his climate plan will create 20 million new jobs in response to a question about manufacturing. Pete Buttigieg mentioned not losing sight of dealing with climate change while many in his party were preoccupied with Trump’s potential impeachment. Tom Steyer, the billionaire newcomer who has launched a campaign to bring out the climate vote, named a grassroots environmental activist in South Carolina as his unlikely friend. In fact, a majority of the candidates on stage thought to mention climate change over the course of Tuesday night’s debate.

Considering that recent polls show that, among registered Democrats, climate change ranks up there with issues like universal health care, gun control, and impeachment, you’d think moderators would want to, y’know, bring it up from time to time.

View original: 

CNN and the New York Times skip climate change in the fourth Democratic debate

Posted in Accent, alo, Anchor, FF, GE, LAI, LG, ONA, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on CNN and the New York Times skip climate change in the fourth Democratic debate

Don’t look now, but the House just woke up to the cost of climate inaction

Subscribe to The Beacon

A bunch of Republicans and Democrats from the U.S. House of Representatives got together and came to a shocking bipartisan agreement: Climate change is a thing. And boy is it going to cost us.

A newly-minted subcommittee of the Committee on Energy and Commerce held its first hearing on Wednesday, looking at the environmental and economic consequences of climate change. And that’s a big deal: The Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change had not held a hearing on climate change in six years, after a long drought under GOP control.

Throughout the subcommittee hearing there was a constant theme: the high cost of inaction.

“Some of our colleagues may protest the cost of climate protection,” said Representative Paul Tonko, a Democrat from New York, in his opening statement. Tonko noted that Americans are already suffering the costs of wildfires, storms, and flooding. “I implore you: Now is the time to join us. We want to work together but inaction is no longer an option.”

To drive home their points, Democrats invited a mix of high-profile witnesses including Brenda Ekwurzel, senior climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists. She opened by talking about the Polar Vortex (a clapback on Trump’s tweet that mocked global warming?). She compared it to a “weak seal on a freezer door,” allowing cold blasts to sweep down from the Arctic.

Speaking about the productivity losses from a changing climate, Ekwurzel noted that, because extreme temperatures take a toll on workers, climate change could cost people $155 billion in lost wages every year. “Under a low emissions scenario, we could take a bite out of nearly half of those damages.” Ekwurzel made sure to highlight the two bombshell climate studies released last year: the federal government’s Fourth National Climate Assessment and the IPCC report.

Reverend Leo Woodberry of the Kingdom Living Temple Church in Florence, South Carolina, put stories and faces to the places already hit by Hurricanes Florence, Michael and Irma. “We don’t have to wait 12 years for a switch to be flipped. Americans are suffering the impacts of climate change right now, Woodberry said. “People are being displaced, communities are getting destroyed.”

Republicans, led by subcommittee ranking member John Shimkus from Illinois, had their own witness list, seemingly aimed to highlight what businesses are doing to combat climate change, instead of trying to challenge the science behind the issue.

Of note: The majority of Republicans on the climate subcommittee don’t have the best track record when it comes to understanding climate change.

Rich Powell, head of the conservative clean energy group ClearPath, talked about “politically-realistic” and “technology-inclusive” solutions to the challenge of climate change.

The U.S. Energy Association’s Barry Worthington emphasized the need for a diverse repertoire of renewables to fossil fuels to nuclear power, and fossil fuels. When Shimkus asked if it’s reasonable to drop fossil fuels entirely, Worthington balked, because the country depends on domestic oil and gas. But you know what else is domestic? Sunshine and wind.

Regardless, there was a measure of bipartisan agreement. Representative Diana DeGette from Colorado asked all the witnesses: “Do you all agree that climate change is real and human activity contributes?” All witnesses said yes. Quite the plot twist.

“That in itself is a revolutionary step for this committee. Thank you for that,” DeGette said.

Could this be a good omen in this time of climate upheaval? Ekwurzal, in her closing thoughts, put it thus: “I think it is going to be a cleaner, healthier world–when we act now.”

Read this article:  

Don’t look now, but the House just woke up to the cost of climate inaction

Posted in Accent, alo, Anchor, Citizen, FF, G & F, GE, LG, ONA, OXO, Radius, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Don’t look now, but the House just woke up to the cost of climate inaction

Protecting public lands was a winning platform in elections out West

Subscribe to The Beacon

This story was originally published by HuffPost and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Democrats notched wins in a number of key midterm races out West after running on platforms of protecting public lands and maintaining them under federal control — victories that conservation groups are celebrating as a repudiation of the Trump administration’s “energy dominance” agenda.

The administration’s “deeply unpopular” rollbacks of protected national monuments and its sweeping proposal to open up nearly all U.S. waters to offshore oil and gas development “fueled pro-conservation wins” in states like Nevada, New Mexico, and even South Carolina, Matt Lee-Ashley, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, said in a statement.

Story continues below

“We are seeing an unmistakable pattern of pro-conservation election outcomes in states and districts that are bearing the brunt of the Trump Administration’s attacks on parks, wildlife, and oceans,” he said.

Public lands were front and center in the contentious Montana Senate race between incumbent Jon Tester, a Democrat, and state auditor Matt Rosendale, a Republican. Though President Donald Trump traveled to Montana four times to campaign for Rosendale, Tester — a frequent critic of the president — defeated the self-proclaimed “Trump conservative.” And he did it in a state that Trump carried by 20 percentage points in the 2016 election.

In campaign advertisements featuring sportsmen and women with shotguns and fly-fishing rods, Tester’s team touted his record of voting to protect public lands, and pegged Rosendale as an East Coast developer who threatened the state’s wild spaces and way of life.

Rosendale, on the other hand, supported transferring federal lands to states during his 2014 bid for the U.S. House of Representatives. That year he told The Billings Gazette that “public lands were never intended to remain in control of the feds.” It’s clear Rosendale recognized that was not a winning stance in Big Sky Country, and promptly reversed course during the campaign to say the exact opposite.

Tracy Stone-Manning, the associate vice president for public lands at the National Wildlife Federation and former chief of staff of Montana Governor Steve Bullock, said Tester won in part because “voters didn’t buy Rosendale’s late and politically convenient conversion.”

While Tester has an 86 percent lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters, the nonprofit advocacy group named Rosendale to its 2018 Senate “Dirty Dozen” list of candidates it calls anti-environment. And LCV spent just shy of $1 million on an ad campaign highlighting Rosendale’s support for rolling back federal land protections and his ties to fossil fuel billionaires Dan and Farris Wilks.

In New Mexico, Democratic incumbent Senator Martin Heinrich, a fierce critic of Trump’s national monument rollbacks who championed the creation of monuments and wilderness areas in the state, walloped Republican opponent Mick Rich, a commercial contractor who described Heinrich as the “foremost proponent of turning New Mexico into an environmentalists’ Disneyland.” In Nevada, Republican Senator Dean Heller, who called the Obama administration’s 2016 designation of Gold Butte National Monument an “extreme overreach” and urged the Trump administration to modify the boundary, lost his re-election bid to Democratic Representative Jacky Rosen. Rosen, who has a 97 percent lifetime score from LCV, campaigned on protecting public lands, including Gold Butte and Basin and Range national monuments, and pushing forward on renewable energy.

Strong support for public lands and environmental protection also appears to have helped boost several candidates in U.S. House races. In Arizona’s 1st Congressional District, incumbent Representative Tom O’Halleran, a Democrat, defeated Republican Wendy Rogers, who praised Trump’s decision to open offshore waters and the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling. In Nevada, Democrat Steven Horsford defeated Republican Cresent Hardy, and Democrat Susie Lee beat Republican Danny Tarkanian in the state’s 4th and 3rd Congressional Districts. Both Hardy and Tarkanian support transferring control of federal lands to the state. And in South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District, Democrat Joe Cunningham, an ocean engineer, upset Republican Katie Arrington by standing firmly against Trump’s offshore drilling plans.

Conservation groups, including CAP and Colorado-based Center for Western Priorities, also celebrated wins in a number of state races. Those included the victory by Colorado’s Jared Polis, the first openly gay man elected governor in the U.S., who during the campaign connected his opponent, Republican Walker Stapleton, to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and the administration’s efforts to roll back public lands protections.

“Voters across the West voted with their values and their wallets when they elected representatives that support public lands, access to them and the wise management of them,” Stone-Manning said.

Visit source:

Protecting public lands was a winning platform in elections out West

Posted in alo, Anchor, Casio, FF, GE, LAI, LG, ONA, Radius, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Protecting public lands was a winning platform in elections out West

Michael could be the worst hurricane to ever hit the Florida Panhandle

With Hurricane Michael bearing down on the Gulf Coast, the state of Florida is just hours away from America’s latest hurricane disaster.

As of Tuesday evening, Michael was a Category 3 hurricane, and was expected to intensify even further before landfall on Wednesday afternoon near Panama City, where mandatory evacuations are underway. On Tuesday, President Trump signed a pre-landfall emergency declaration to help speed the flow of aid to Florida.

With Michael’s impending landfall, America is bracing for its fourth major hurricane in just 15 months. Last year’s trio of Harvey, Irma, and Maria made landfall with sustained winds above 115 mph, the criteria for a “major” hurricane.

In the Panhandle region of Florida, a storm like this is exceedingly rare. There have been only nine major hurricanes to approach the region in all of weather recordkeeping dating back to 1850. If Michael strengthens even a bit more than forecast, it could eclipse them all.

But wind speeds aren’t the only important factor here: 2012’s Sandy, which devastated the New York City region, and last month’s Hurricane Florence, which created all-time record flooding in North Carolina, had winds well below that threshold when they hit land. They still caused massive damage due to their large size.

Michael will be a relatively large hurricane, too, and is hitting a region of the Florida coast that’s particularly vulnerable to storm surge and coastal flooding. A huge swath of the northern Gulf Coast, from near New Orleans to Tampa, is currently under either tropical storm or hurricane warnings. Storm surge could be as high as 13 feet, depending on exactly where Michael makes landfall. Just offshore, waves in the normally docile Gulf of Mexico will be up to 40 feet high. The combination of extremely powerful winds and coastal flooding could prove devastating for the Florida Panhandle’s beach communities, like Fort Walton Beach and Panama City, which are set to take the brunt of Michael’s force.

In the past year since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, tens of thousands of people have moved to central and northern Florida — and Michael is likely to bring repeat trauma for some. During Irma, half of the region lost power as the storm weakened. Michael is now gearing for a direct hit, while strengthening.

Southwest Florida, which is outside the warning area, is already seeing flooding — in one case, threatening a sea wall that has just been reconstructed after last year’s Irma. Michael is so large, it could even cause coastal flooding on the other side of Florida — in combination with the King Tide, an astronomical oddity that makes October 9 the highest high tide of the year, and the influence of long-term sea-level rise linked to climate change.

It’s impossible to think of record-setting hurricanes like Michael as freak aberrations from “normal” weather. Six of the seven most damaging hurricanes in U.S. history have hit in the past 10 years. In an era of rapid climate change, every weather event — including Michael — is a partial product of current and historical greenhouse gas emissions, and should come as a warning of yet worse hurricanes in the coming decades if we continue on a business as usual path.

Visit source – 

Michael could be the worst hurricane to ever hit the Florida Panhandle

Posted in alo, Anchor, FF, GE, LAI, LG, ONA, Prepara, Radius, Thermos, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Michael could be the worst hurricane to ever hit the Florida Panhandle

Weathering the next Florence

As the country watched floodwaters rise across the Carolinas in the wake of Hurricane Florence this month, Puerto Ricans were still reeling from a storm that tore through the island a year ago.

The grim statistics from Hurricane Maria are well known: thousands of deaths, the largest power outage in U.S. history, and $90 billion in damages — a heavy toll for an island already in dire financial straits. But we still don’t know the extent of the wreckage from Hurricane Florence’s record-shattering rainfall.

Increasingly, there’s little space to breathe between catastrophes. And as climate change brings higher sea-level rise, more punishing winds, and heavier rains, super-charged storms are likely to get worse. But these natural disasters are partly human-made, which means that humans can also work to avoid future disasters.

Dear reader, like what you see here?

Keep Grist’s green journalism humming along by supporting us with a donation today. All donations made between now and September 29 will be matched dollar-for-dollar.


How do we prepare for a future filled with Florences and Marias? And when the next big hurricane does inevitably hit, how do we rebuild, not just our houses, but also our sense of community?

Grist surveyed experts in hurricane preparedness and relief efforts for their suggestions on making our coastal towns more resilient. Here’s how they responded, edited for length and clarity.

“Aid delayed is aid denied.”

Richard Burroughs, professor of coastal science and policy, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies

Waves, storm surge, wind, and rain coexist on dynamic natural coasts: We know how nature works. Adding in people with their homes, businesses, roads, and recreation always causes problems. The fixed structures and people are periodically overwhelmed by the hurricanes.

Adequate hurricane preparation consists of identifying zones of high risk and incentivizing people and businesses to move away from those zones. Insuring people so that they can stay in high-risk areas will ultimately fail because natural forces coupled with sea-level rise will win in the end. I recognize that major cities will not get up and move, but for other areas retreat is the preferred option.

Puerto Rico is a very important case where Hurricane Maria further exposed the vulnerability of not just individuals but whole governmental systems. Since hurricanes test both our physical infrastructure and the resilience of government, all Americans have a special stake in effectively addressing the issues Puerto Rico is facing. Houston and New Orleans have a lot to learn from San Juan and vice versa.

Maria Lopez cries while walking from her house that was flooded by Hurricane Maria.HECTOR RETAMAL / AFP / Getty Images

As the Puerto Rico case illustrates, we are woefully slow in making decisions related to individual claims because we have dispersed responsibility among many governmental agencies. After a flood, FEMA inspectors, National Flood Insurance Program adjusters, Small Business Administration loss verifiers, private flood insurance adjusters, and others may assess damage to the property. It’s both time-consuming and costly. The challenge for us all is to coordinate responses so that payouts can occur in a timely fashion. Aid delayed is aid denied.

“We need to have those communities at the table”

Mikki Sager, vice president of The Conservation Fund

We work with a tremendous number of community groups, particularly in areas rich in natural resources, but that have a lot of economic challenges, persistent poverty, and social and environmental justice issues. When we are trying to prepare for hurricanes, we have to look at the socio-economic aspect.

The Centers for Disease Control has social vulnerability index maps and data. The mid-Atlantic down across to Texas has huge areas of persistent poverty that are also the most vulnerable to climate change. The challenge that we face is that, for many reasons, the most vulnerable folks are not part of conversations about how to address the impacts of a natural disaster. We need to have those communities at the table. And we need to increase the flow of funding, both public and private, to help them set priorities for rebuilding.

We also need to increase the capacity of local government, businesses, and families in those vulnerable areas. Historically, especially here in the South, low-income folks and people of color have been pushed to the low-lying areas, to the wetland areas, to the floodplains.

We have several communities in the southeastern part of North Carolina right now that are still underwater, totally cut off. They don’t have access to the most basic supplies, but community groups and faith groups are pulling together funding to go out and buy tarps so that houses can start to dry out when the water has receded.

In Puerto Rico, we provided a grant for a group called Americas for Conservation and the Arts to focus on engaging the community and restructuring their food systems, putting it back to where it was [before Hurricane Maria]. They are doing some amazing work because they have local community folks leading the process. They’re both organizing and engaging the community in coming up with a solution, leaning heavily on what has worked in the past, and working towards addressing the economic issues, the social justice issues, and the environmental issues simultaneously through that project.

“It’s just really hard to establish [community cohesion] when the physical environment is pockmarked.”

Kofi Boone, associate professor of landscape architecture at North Carolina State University in the College of Design

Before a hurricane or a flood comes, we still have a very big pre-disaster education job to do to help communities understand what floodplains are and how they work, where they’re located, and what those risk factors happen to be.

After Hurricane Matthew, we all had a chance to work with the town of Princeville, which is the oldest chartered black town in North Carolina. That town was built in the floodplain of the Tar River, primarily because that was the available land that African American people could buy at the end of the Civil War. You find that a lot, where the most vulnerable populations have existed for generations in places that have had a series of crises and disasters, and so the recurring trauma and disruption that happens every time a flood comes prevents them from building wealth, equity, and a tax base.

There really isn’t a mechanism to encourage a community-level conversation to talk about the impacts that all of those individual actors have on the long-term sustainability of communities. It’s just really hard to establish a sense of community cohesion and maintain social networks when the physical environment is pockmarked.

I think it’s also about finding ways for people to do what they can. And a lot of the time, when we talk about [hurricane resilience] we’re thinking about you know, billion-dollar, 10-year long-range things when sometimes it’s the day-to-day stuff that makes the difference to a community that’s had this recurring trauma from losing, property, losing loved ones like over and over and over again.

James Howell Jr. sizes up how to protect his home from the approaching Hurricane Florence. The house was damaged by Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Howell said the furniture on his porch is there because he had to go out and rebuild the living room.AP Photo / Emery Dalesio

There is a need for healing and remembering what makes them special and why they’re important. It’s one thing if all you know about Princeville was that it’s in the low-lying area and it floods all the time. It’s another when you think about it as the first free black town in the United States that’s situated in a district that gave birth to many generations of political leaders, not just in North Carolina, but around the country. It alters how you see yourself.

“Everybody’s working together and everybody’s well informed”

Hanadi Rifai, director of the Hurricane Resilience Research Institute (HURRI) at the University of Houston

Education and coordination, especially with disadvantaged communities, would help areas be more resilient.

We always talk about education because the most important thing is for people to be continually reminded and educated about what could happen to them. Coordination — amongst all organizations, communities, and agencies at the state and federal level — is one of the most important things. When everybody’s working together and everybody’s well informed, they’re able to be more responsive not only in evacuating people but also in getting people back into their homes after the event has passed.

It’s especially important with disadvantaged populations — meaning, people that perhaps don’t have the resources and the means to undertake actions they need to.

Being able to sustain economic development and economic growth, and balancing the risks and rewards of having industrial, commercial, and economic activities would be really important for coastal communities. We talk a lot about hazards from industrial activities, chemicals, and storage of byproducts. If we’re able to get our coastlines more aware of that and find ways that we can manage the risks from those types of activities, we would truly have more resilient coasts. When the event comes, you can recover quickly and you don’t have these lingering environmental effects left to deal with which may prevent things from going back to normal for a while.

It’s like when you buy a car and see that label about fuel economy. We need a similar thing for buildings.”

Jeremy Gregory, research scientist and executive director of the Concrete Sustainability Hub at MIT.

The key thing is building structures that are not just designed to withstand normal weather events, but built to last longer and withstand more extreme events. Part of the challenge with that is a lot of structures built a long time ago aren’t adequately prepared to sustain the increasing severity of storms.

We’re not even talking about entirely rebuilding structures. Sometimes it’s just about making sure that homes have a good connection between the roof and the walls and that you have protection for windows and doors. Because after the wind breaks that pressure seal, then a lot of the damage comes from the water.

Kenan Chance’s home is surrounded by flood water as the Lumberton river continues to rise in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence in North Carolina.RJ Sangosti / The Denver Post via Getty Images

So it’s really the flooding that’s a lot worse than the wind, but a lot of times that’s wind level is what we design for. Heating and cooling units for buildings are often placed on the ground, down low.

A lot of the research that we do is about the quantitative, life cycle costs of a building, considering the hazards that it’s exposed to. People need to understand that the building they are investing in not only has an initial cost, it’s also going to have some costs due to hazards. As the  severity of storms increase, those costs are going to go up. And so we need to make that more transparent. It’s kinda like when you buy a car and see that label about fuel economy. We need a similar thing for buildings.

View original post here:

Weathering the next Florence

Posted in alo, Anchor, FF, GE, LAI, LG, ONA, Prepara, Radius, Ultima, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Weathering the next Florence

Coal ash and hog manure could flood vulnerable communities in Hurricane Florence’s path

North Carolina is home to 31 coal ash pits where Duke Energy stores an estimated 111 million tons of toxic waste produced by coal-fired power plants. The state is also home to thousands of manure pits, known euphemistically as “lagoons,” which hold approximately 10 billion pounds of wet waste generated each year by swine, poultry, and cattle operations.

A handful of news outlets are reporting about the danger of coal ash and hog manure spilling into North Carolina’s waterways in the wake of Hurricane Florence. Bloomberg covered the serious environmental and public health risks and the Associated Press warned of a potential “noxious witches’ brew of waste.”

There’s precedent for these concerns. In 1999, Hurricane Floyd, which struck North Carolina as a Category 2 storm, washed 120 million gallons of hog waste into rivers, Rolling Stone later reported. As AP noted this week, that was just one part of the mess caused by Floyd:

The bloated carcasses of hundreds of thousands of hogs, chickens and other drowned livestock bobbed in a nose-stinging soup of fecal matter, pesticides, fertilizer and gasoline so toxic that fish flopped helplessly on the surface to escape it. Rescue workers smeared Vick’s Vapo-Rub under their noses to try to numb their senses against the stench.

The media has been amping up its coverage of potential Hurricane Florence damage. But so far they’re missing an important part of the story — that African-Americans and other communities of color could be hit particularly hard by the resulting pollution. They’re also failing to note how the Trump administration has been loosening regulations and oversight in ways that could make coal ash and hog-waste spills more likely.

There’s an environmental justice component to this story

After Floyd, North Carolina taxpayers bought out and closed down 43 hog factory farms located in floodplains in order to prevent a repeat disaster. But when Hurricane Matthew hit the Carolinas as a Category 1 storm in 2016, at least 14 manure lagoons still flooded.

Even if they’re not widespread, hog-waste spills can still be devastating to those who live nearby — and many of the unfortunate neighbors are low-income people of color.

Two epidemiology researchers at the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill published a paper in 2014 with a very straightforward title: “Industrial Hog Operations in North Carolina Disproportionately Impact African-Americans, Hispanics and American Indians.” They wrote, “Overflow of waste pits during heavy rain events results in massive spills of animal waste into neighboring communities and waterways.”

A Hurricane Floyd-flooded hog waste lagoon.JOHN ALTHOUSE / AFP / Getty Images

Tom Philpott explained more about that research in Mother Jones in 2017:

As the late University of North Carolina researcher Steve Wing has demonstrated, [North Carolina’s industrial hog] operations are tightly clustered in a few counties on the coastal plain—the very part of the state that housed the most enslaved people prior to the Civil War. In the decades since, the region has retained the state’s densest population of rural African-American residents.

Even when hurricanes aren’t on the horizon, activists are pushing to clean up industrial hog operations. “From acrid odors to polluted waterways, factory farms in North Carolina are directly harming some of our state’s most vulnerable populations, particularly low-income communities and communities of color,” Naeema Muhammad of the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network said last year.

Poor and rural communities of color are heavily affected by coal ash dumps as well. The New York Times reported last month on an environmental-justice campaign against coal ash pollution in North Carolina. Lisa Evans, a lawyer with the environmental group Earthjustice, told the Times, “Coal ash ponds are in rural areas, particularly in the Southeast. Those communities have less power and less of a voice.”

The Trump administration recently loosened coal ash rules

The first major rule finalized by Andrew Wheeler, acting head of the Environmental Protection Agency, loosened Obama-era requirements for coal ash disposal. The change, which will save industry millions of dollars a year, could lead to more dangerous pollution. The Washington Post reported about this in July:

Avner Vengosh, a Duke University expert on the environmental impacts of coal ash, said that scaling back monitoring requirements, in particular, could leave communities vulnerable to potential pollution.

“We have very clear evidence that coal ash ponds are leaking into groundwater sources,” Vengosh said. “The question is, has it reached areas where people use it for drinking water? We just don’t know. That’s the problem.”

The Trump administration is also going easy on factory farms like the industrial hog operations in North Carolina. Civil Eats reported in February that there’s “been a decline in the number of inspections and enforcement actions by the [EPA] against concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) since the final years of the Obama administration.” Last year, more than 30 advocacy groups filed a legal petition calling on Trump’s EPA to tighten rules to protect communities from factory farms.

North Carolina Republicans aren’t helping things either — they’ve gone easy on coal plants and hog operations. And in 2012, the GOP-controlled state legislature actually passed a law banning state officials from considering the latest sea-level rise science when doing coastal planning. ABC reported on the development at the time:

The law was drafted in response to an estimate by the state’s Coastal Resources Commission (CRC) that the sea level will rise by 39 inches in the next century, prompting fears of costlier home insurance and accusations of anti-development alarmism among residents and developers in the state’s coastal Outer Banks region. …

The bill’s passage in June triggered nationwide scorn by those who argued that the state was deliberately blinding itself to the effects of climate change. In a segment on the “Colbert Report,” comedian Stephen Colbert mocked North Carolina lawmakers’ efforts as an attempt to outlaw science.

“If your science gives you a result you don’t like, pass a law saying the result is illegal. Problem solved,” he joked.

As Hurricane Florence bears down on North Carolina, journalists should make sure that their stories include the people who will be hurt the most by waste spills and other impacts, as well as the businesses and lawmakers who have been making such environmental disasters much more likely to occur.

Lisa Hymas is director of the climate and energy program at Media Matters for America. She was previously a senior editor at Grist.

Taken from: 

Coal ash and hog manure could flood vulnerable communities in Hurricane Florence’s path

Posted in alo, Anchor, FF, G & F, GE, LAI, Landmark, ONA, Radius, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Coal ash and hog manure could flood vulnerable communities in Hurricane Florence’s path

A nuclear plant designed like Fukushima is right in Florence’s path

This story was originally published by Wired and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

On March 11, 2011, a one-two, earthquake-tsunami punch knocked out the safety systems at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, triggering an explosion of hydrogen gas and meltdowns in three of its six reactors — the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. Fukushima’s facility was built with 1960s technology, designed at a time when engineers underestimated plant vulnerabilities during natural disasters. In the U.S., 20 plants with similar designs are currently operating.

One of them is slated for a head-on collision with Hurricane Florence.

Duke Energy Corp’s dual-reactor, 1,870-megawatt Brunswick plant sits four miles inland from Cape Fear, a pointy headland jutting into the Atlantic Ocean just south of the city of Wilmington, North Carolina. Brunswick has survived decades of run-ins with hurricanes, but Florence could be its biggest test yet.

The plant perches near the banks of the Cape Fear River, which drains 9,000 square miles of the state’s most densely populated regions. Like Hurricane Harvey in 2017, Florence is predicted to stall out for days, pounding the Carolinas with unrelenting amounts of water, leading to life-threatening storm surges and catastrophic flooding. NOAA’s National Hurricane Center is projecting 110 mile-per-hour winds, waves as high as 13 feet, and in some places, up to 40 inches of rain.

Officials at Brunswick say the plant is bracing for the impending destruction. “We’re monitoring the meteorological conditions, and if we have certainty that the winds onsite will reach 73 miles per hour, then we’ll begin an orderly shutdown of the units,” said Karen Williams, a spokesperson for Duke Energy, reached by phone Wednesday afternoon.

The company also brought in workers ahead of the storm’s landfall who will stay through its duration, sleeping on cots and blow-up mattresses, so that the facility has enough staff to handle multiple shifts. In the last few days they’ve been doing walk-throughs of the plant, inspecting diesel-powered backup generators and installing waterproof steel barriers on nine doors that house important safety equipment.

These precautions are relatively new for Brunswick. They’re part of a sweep of changes nuclear plants around the U.S. have adopted post-Fukushima.

Following the accident in Japan, a task force of senior Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff used the lessons from that disaster to draft new rules for the U.S. When the earthquake’s tremors hit Fukushima, knocking out the electrical grid, the plant’s emergency diesel generators kicked in as expected to provide emergency power. It was the wave of water that hit 40 minutes later that damaged that backup equipment, plunging the plant into total blackout. Without power, operators lost the ability to pump water into the reactors, exposing the cores, and leading to the explosive meltdown. From this, the NRC’s big initiative to make U.S. nuclear plants better prepared for such extreme events included the particular goal of making them less vulnerable to flooding.

“Every plant in the country was required to re-examine potential flooding hazards from any source — be it storm surge, intense rainfall, river flooding — with up-to-date models,” says Scott Burnell, a public affairs officer for the NRC. The Commission then compared the results of those reports to the plants’ flood protection features.

Duke predicted a maximum storm surge of 7 feet at the plant’s safety-related buildings. But the plant was originally designed to cope with only 3.6 feet of expected surge, according to the NRC’s 2017 summary assessment of Duke’s hazard reevaluation report, which has not been made public.

In a letter earlier this year, the NRC reminded Duke that the plant’s current design falls short of the reevaluated flood risks. According to Burnell, Duke has since submitted an assessment of how it will cope — including the use of those steel door reinforcements — which the NRC is still evaluating. “The review is not complete but there’s nothing in there to this point that causes us any concern,” says Burnell.

Duke’s Williams echoed the sentiment, saying that the company doesn’t expect any flooding damage at Brunswick, which sits 20 feet above sea level. “Our plant is designed to handle any kind of natural event, including a hurricane,” she said.

Storms can be unpredictable, however. Dave Lochbaum, who directs a nuclear safety watchdog group at the Union of Concerned Scientists, has spent a lifetime studying nuclear failures. Brunswick troubles him because in 2012, Duke found hundreds of missing or damaged flood protections at the plant, such as cracked seals and corroded pipes. According to the group, none of the NRC’s subsequent reports have mentioned repairs.

“Hopefully they’ve been fixed,” says Lochbaum. “But we’ve not been able to confirm that with the available documentation.”

He credits Brunswick for following through on the NRC’s post-Fukushima orders to install additional equipment — pumps, generators, hoses, cables, battery-powered sensors — to maintain safe levels of cooling in the event the plant loses its connection to the grid and use of its emergency diesel generators. But Lochbaum points out that history proves such preparation might not be enough.

In its 2012 post-Fukushima review, Florida Power & Light told the NRC that flood protections at its St. Lucie plant on South Hutchinson Island were adequate, despite failing to discover six electrical conduits with missing seals in one of the emergency core cooling systems. Two years later, a freak storm inundated Florida’s central coast with record rainfall, flooding one of the plant’s reactors with 50,000 gallons of stormwater. The deluge submerged core cooling pumps, rendering them useless. Had the reactor faltered during the storm, the plant would not have been able to maintain a safe and stable status beyond 24 hours, according to an NRC notice of violation issued to FPL after the incident.

Something similarly freakish happened at Entergy’s Arkansas Nuclear One plant in March 2013. Workers were transporting a 525-ton generator during a maintenance outage when the rigging collapsed, sending it crashing through the floor, rupturing a fire main. Emergency systems began pumping water into the facility, causing flooding and damage to electrical components shared by both reactors.

“I’m not projecting that Florence is going to cause the next St. Lucie, or Arkansas,” says Lochbaum. But those incidents serve as a reminder that nuclear plants are vulnerable to extreme events, like superstorms. “The only two times we’ve been challenged by floods since Fukushima we’ve come up short-handed,” he says. “Both those plants thought they were ready, until they weren’t.”

Duke is also preparing five other nuclear plants in the projected impact area of the 400-mile-wide hurricane. The good news is that local residents have had ample warning. More than 1.5 million residents across North and South Carolina have been ordered to evacuate their homes before the eye of the storm makes landfall on Thursday.

Follow this link: 

A nuclear plant designed like Fukushima is right in Florence’s path

Posted in alo, Anchor, Everyone, FF, G & F, GE, LG, ONA, Prepara, Radius, The Atlantic, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on A nuclear plant designed like Fukushima is right in Florence’s path