Environment

dan river coal ash cleanup
David Boraks / WFAE

Dozens of insurance companies say they're not obligated to help pay for Duke Energy Corp.'s multi-billion dollar coal ash cleanup because the nation's largest electric company long knew about but did nothing to reduce the threat of potentially toxic pollutants.

A bicycle commuter on Commonwealth Avenue in Charlotte.
David Boraks / WFAE

Do you drive to and from work in the Charlotte area? Several local groups are promoting a bit of a competition this month called the Clean Commute Challenge. Charlotte Area Transit System, Sustain Charlotte and Charlotte Air Awareness are asking drivers to look for alternatives during the month of June.   

Gov. Roy Cooper has vetoed a bill that would limit the amount of damages nearby property owners can collect if a court rules that smells from hog and poultry farms are a nuisance The governor also has signed a Republican-backed bill that rolls back some state regulations on the environment, business and government agencies.  

Duke Energy's annual meeting is Thursday, but don't try to go to uptown Charlotte and vote your shares. This year’s meeting will be at a secret location, beamed to shareholders via telephone and internet. Protesters say they'll be at Duke's headquarters anyway.  

Blue sky over uptown Charlotte
David Boraks / WFAE

An annual report out this week shows air quality in North Carolina and other southeastern states is continuing to improve. Federal and state laws have made the difference, but there's concern lawmakers may try to weaken those rules. 

Republicans have eliminated or updated a variety of state regulations since taking control of the legislature in 2010. But in the past couple of years, they've found it harder to agree on reforms.

On Wednesday, the state Senate rejected the expanded House version of the GOP-backed 2016-2017 regulatory reform bill. It's got both years in the title because the two chambers also failed to agree last year before the legislature adjourned.

A worker mows Tim Mascara's lawn on Sloan Street in Davidson. Workers wet the grass and wore protective gear because of concern over asbestos.
Courtesy of Tim Mascara

There was a strange sight in Davidson a few weeks ago – workers in white suits mowing lawns. It’s part of a $3 million asbestos cleanup by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency at about 20 homes and other properties around an old mill.

Charlotte is known as a tree city, with lush neighborhoods and even tree-lined downtown streets, like College Street.
David Boraks / WFAE

Charlotte has a goal of having trees cover 50 percent of the city by 2050. But a report out this month says the city may have trouble hitting that goal, as trees disappear faster than they can be planted.

Updated 4:25 p.m.
The state Senate on Tuesday passed a bill to reduce the number of state appeals court judges, and gave preliminary final approval to a bill that would relax state regulations on the environment and businesses. Senators also confirmed three more Cabinet picks of Gov. Roy Cooper, for commerce, environment and cultural resources. Other bills making their way through the General Assembly would enact new restrictions on opioids, and limit lawsuits against large hog farms. 

Workers cut down trees and shrubs then installed a plastic liner, soil and a fiber mat cover on this slope near the former Carolina Asbestos plant in Davidson. Last fall, environmental officials found asbestos running off from the hill.
David Boraks / WFAE

Contractors have finished installing a plastic liner, fresh earth and a fiber mat over an asbestos site at the Metrolina Warehouse near downtown Davidson. Last fall, runoff was discovered flowing from a slope behind the old mill, at 301 Depot St.  in Davidson.

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