Environment

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.

Green "filter socks" are designed to control runoff behind the old Carolina Asbestos plant in Davidson.  The trees will be removed and the hill full of asbestos covered starting next week.
David Boraks / WFAE

Updated Friday, Jan. 27, 2017
Despite the Trump administration's freeze on new Environmental Protection Agency contracts, a federal cleanup of asbestos found at homes in Davidson remains on track. In addition, state officials say work will start next week to cap asbestos that spilled near an old factory in the neighborhood. 

President Donald Trump has issued a lot of orders in his first week, and he's already putting his mark on the office. It's mostly big-picture policy statements. But some orders are creating confusion for government employees and citizens, especially when it comes to science and the environment.

Coal ash pond at Duke Energy's H.F. Lee plant in Wayne County will be drained and excavated, and the coal ash recycled in concrete products.
Duke Energy

Duke Energy has picked a site in eastern North Carolina's Wayne County for the second of three planned coal ash recycling facilities.  The company says it will excavate about 6 million tons of coal ash stored near the H.F. Lee plant in Goldsboro and recycle it for concrete products.

A worker delivers bottled water to a home in Belmont, near Duke Energy's Allen coal plant. Duke will provide a permament drinking water supply to well owners by 2018.
David Boraks / WFAE

Duke Energy has given state environmental officials details of how it plans to provide safe, permanent water supplies to people who live near the company's coal ash dumps.  The filings, for all but two plants, comply with a state law requiring the plans by Dec. 15.

supermoon illustration
NASA illustration

Look skyward overnight Sunday and early Monday and you're in for a treat: A brighter, larger full moon than usual. It's called a supermoon, and this one's especially super.

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