Archive for the ‘All Posts’ Category

The Power of Energy Efficiency — Building a Stronger Economy for Appalachia

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 - posted by brian

This is the first installment in a five-part series illustrating the need for greater investments in residential energy efficiency as an economic driver in rural Appalachia. An effective and proven investment strategy is the development of low-cost home energy efficiency loan programs by the rural electric cooperatives in the region. In this post, we explore the relationship between poverty and electricity costs, and how reducing electricity costs can help alleviate the impacts of poverty across the Appalachian region.

Part 1: How Energy Efficiency Can Help Alleviate Poverty

When you think of poverty, what words do you associate with it? Many of us might think of words like “low-income,” “unemployment” or “homelessness.” Unfortunately, it is not often that we associate poverty with electricity costs, because for many across the United States, especially those living in the South and Appalachia, electricity costs play a significant role in worsening the impacts of poverty.

According to the federal Energy Information Administration, total household energy costs (including electricity and other fuels) accounted for approximately 3 percent of household income for U.S. families in 2012. For low-income households, however, energy costs have been estimated to account for a significantly higher portion of family income — 22 percent — which is more than one-fifth of total household income.

Think about that for a moment. Imagine a family of four living in rural Appalachia, or anywhere for that matter, on a mere $20,000 a year or less. That family is spending approximately $4,000 each year just to maintain a level of comfort that many of us might take for granted. That leaves only $16,000 for covering other basic needs such as food, health insurance, transportation, education, or other utilities such as water, telephone service or internet connection.

Now imagine that up to 40 percent of that family’s energy costs are the result of waste due to poor insulation (or lack thereof), the use of inefficient heating/cooling systems and appliances, or inefficient lighting. That amounts to $1,600 a year, or a staggering eight percent of our imagined family’s income — lost due to energy waste. And because our imaginary family is impoverished, they cannot afford to pay the upfront cost of making the needed efficiency improvements to their home, or of installing new, energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, each of which could provide significant savings on household energy costs.

Unfortunately, our imagined family is very real. This family exists all over the South, and all across Appalachia. According to the Appalachian Regional Commission, the average poverty rate in Appalachia from 2007 to 2011 was 13 percent higher than the average rate for the entire U.S. In some of the most rural parts of Appalachia — West Virginia and eastern Kentucky, for example — poverty rates were even worse: 22 percent and a 73 percent above the national average, respectively. Across the region, high rates of poverty corresponded to significantly lower incomes, with Appalachian households earning approximately 25 percent less than the average U.S. household.

While Appalachian and southern states have some of the highest instances of poverty in the nation, these states also spend more each month on electricity bills alone (not including other fuels). Eight of the twelve states that spent the most on monthly household electricity costs are in the South or have counties situated in the Appalachian region. In other words, electricity costs are generally the highest in regions of the U.S. characterized by the highest poverty rates. [It is important to note that the data is skewed somewhat due to the fact that electricity is used for space heating in some states, whereas propane or oil are used in other states. Regardless, the high concentration of southern and Appalachian states ranking at or near the top for electricity costs is notable].

Most of these areas are served by rural electric cooperatives (“co-ops”), which were created nearly 75 years ago specifically for the purpose of providing electricity to the most rural of areas throughout the U.S. As Brian Depew of the Center for Rural Affairs pointed out, rural co-ops serve 327 out of 353, about 93 percent, of the counties suffering the deepest and most persistent poverty.

Specific to Appalachia and the South, as Appalachian Voices reported back in February, more than 80 percent of all southeastern electric utilities (co-ops and other power companies) serve areas that had an average poverty rate above the national average of 16 percent in 2012. This holds true for rural co-ops, as approximately 80 percent of co-op service areas in the Southeast had a higher poverty rate than the U.S. as a whole.

In addition, electric utility bills for co-op members in the Southeast were 8 percent higher in 2012 than for customers of investor-owned utilities. Therefore, annual electric bills serve as a much greater burden on family income for residents served by rural co-ops than for those served by other electric utilities.

While rural electric co-ops are not the cause of poverty in Appalachia and the South, the decisions they make — or do not make — affect families’ ability to make their homes more energy efficient in order to reduce their energy costs. In other words, rural electric co-ops, and other electric utilities, can play a significant role in alleviating poverty in Appalachia and throughout the Southeast by making stronger investments in home energy efficiency.

In part 2 of this series we will explore the lack of economic diversity in Appalachia, and illustrate how investments in energy efficiency can create jobs while strengthening local economies.

North Carolina sides with Duke Energy by appealing coal ash ruling

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 - posted by Sarah Kellogg
A coal ash pond at Duke Energy’s Buck Power Plant. Photo by Les Stone / Greenpeace

A coal ash pond at Duke Energy’s Buck Power Plant. Photo by Les Stone / Greenpeace

Why would the state ask a judge to take away its legal authority to stop groundwater pollution?

For years, North Carolina has known that Duke Energy’s coal ash ponds are illegally contaminating groundwater. Yet the state has not taken any action to force Duke to correct the violations.

In fact, the N.C. Environmental Management Commission, the body that oversees the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and determines what DENR can enforce, determined two years ago that the state did not have the authority to make Duke clean up the source of its illegal pollution — coal ash ponds.

Last month, to the relief of concerned citizens and environmental groups, a superior court judge reversed the EMC’s prior decision, ruling that the state actually does have the legal authority to force Duke Energy to immediately clean up its coal ash ponds.

As expected, Duke Energy appealed the judge’s decision. Last week, however, in a move that surprised many, the EMC also appealed the judge’s decision. Why would the state ask a judge to take away it’s legal authority to stop groundwater pollution?

The answer likely has to do with who makes up the EMC and how they were appointed. A local Raleigh news station, WNCN, did some digging and found that at least eight of the fifteen EMC members have ties to Duke Energy or other major power companies. For example, the chairman, Benne Hutson, works for a law firm that has represented Duke Energy in court.

Given that the EMC is appointed by the Senate president pro tempore, the House speaker, and the governor — who worked for Duke Energy for 28 years — it’s not surprising that the commission has chosen to pander to corporate interests rather than adequately protect North Carolina’s water and its citizens health.

America’s biggest bank moves away from mountaintop removal

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 - posted by brian

r-TOO-BIG-TO-FAIL-large570

A combination of activism and economics is reducing the role big banks play in making mountaintop removal coal mining possible.

Pressuring large investment banks to stop financing mountaintop removal coal mining has been a strategy of the nationwide movement to end the destructive practice for years.

Judging by the progress made by Rainforest Action Network, and other grassroots groups such as Earth Quaker Action Team and Hands Off Appalachia targeting the infamous “too big to fails,” that strategy is working.

Yesterday, RAN shared the news that JPMorgan Chase, the largest bank in the United States, updated its position on mountaintop removal in its environmental policy report, indicating a further move away from financing mountaintop removal projects.

The bank’s announcement comes almost four years after a report by RAN, the Sierra Club and BankTrack revealed that JPMorgan, along with PNC and UBS, was a top financier of companies using mountaintop removal.

RAN’s Energy & Finance program director, Amanda Starbuck, wrote that, as the nation’s largest bank, JPMorgan Chase’s aversion to financing mountaintop removal projects should be an example to other major banks “that do not want to be singled out” for continuing to support the destruction of Appalachian mountains and streams. We’re looking at you, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup. Yes, you too, PNC and UBS.

According to JPMorgan Chase’s 2014 environmental policy report, the bank has reduced its exposure to companies engaged in mountaintop removal and expects that reduction to “exceed any decline in the
overall market.”

The policy report does not overlook the economic side of this environmental crime either, mentioning that “production from mountaintop mining has declined by close to 50 percent since 2008 due to market conditions, regulations, and concerns over environmental and human health impacts.”

Still, as recently as last year, JPMorgan Chase earned a D+ on RAN’s Coal Finance Report Card, which evaluates the largest U.S. banks based on their financing of mountaintop removal projects and companies that operate coal-fired power plants.

The report card’s authors wrote that JPMorgan Chase’s “enhanced diligence process” for mountaintop removal transactions “includes considerations of a company’s regulatory compliance history, exposure to future regulation, litigation risk, and operational performance related to valley fills and water quality issues.”

Overall, the bank ranked fourth among the 12 largest U.S. banks in involvement in mountaintop removal financing, committing $616.7 million in 2012 to companies including Alpha Natural Resources and TECO Energy, according to the Coal Finance Report Card.

In order to improve its grade, the RAN team wrote, JPMorgan should disclose details and “strengthen reporting on how it has implemented its enhanced diligence process for mountaintop removal transactions.”

Strong stances on mountaintop removal in the finance sector are not unprecedented. BNP Paribas, the fourth largest bank in the world by total assets, includes a mandatory requirement in its responsible investment policy to not invest in companies that use mountaintop removal.

Appalachian Voices congratulates RAN on the success of its campaign against America’s biggest banks and the pivotal role they play in making mountaintop removal possible. Learn more and take action here.

Central Appalachian-focused James River Coal Company enters bankruptcy

Friday, April 11th, 2014 - posted by brian
James River Coal, which entered bankruptcy this week, has operations in Central Appalchia's most economically vulnerable coal-producing counties.

James River Coal, which entered bankruptcy this week, has operations in Central Appalchia’s most economically vulnerable coal-producing counties. Click to enlarge.

This week, James River Coal Company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in federal court. Like Patriot Coal, which reemerged from bankruptcy in December, the Richmond, Va.-based company’s operations are concentrated in Central Appalachia and are located in some of the counties most economically vulnerable to coal’s downturn.

According to a 2013 report by Downstream Strategies, eastern Kentucky’s Knott, Letcher, Pike, Bell, and Harlan counties are particularly vulnerable to shifting coal demand and changes in electricity markets, and therefore, require the most immediate attention from policymakers seeking to alleviate the economic impacts of the region’s declining coal industry.

James River has historically operated in all of those counties. But in September 2013, poor demand forced the company to lay off 525 employees and idle production at its McCoy-Elkhorn complex in Pike and Floyd counties and the Bledsoe complex in Leslie and Harlan counties.

Two months later, the struggling coal operator idled four more mines and furloughed 200 workers.

James River has not posted an annual net profit since 2010 and reported net loss of approximately $16.4 million in 2013. Investors expected the bankruptcy was imminent after the company recently received a notice from Nasdaq that it was not complying with the stock market’s rules after its stock closed below $1 per share for 30 business days.

In its bankruptcy filing, the company said it has assets valued at about $1.06 billion and liabilities of about $818.7 million, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

“The coal markets in the U.S. have changed dramatically during the past several years,” said James River Chairman and CEO Peter T. Socha. “Some of these changes are cyclical due to continued weakness in the real economy. Other of the changes are more permanent like changes in government environmental regulations, improved methods to produce natural gas, and switching between coal basins by domestic power utilities.”

A federal judge approved James River’s request to continue operations during its restructuring process, including paying wages and providing health care and other benefits to its 1,200 employees.

The company also appears committed to carrying out its contracts with electric utilities such as Indianapolis Power & Light, and Kentucky Utilities Co., which it supplies with coal from more productive mines in the Illinois Basin.

Either way, according to SNL Energy, James River’s chances for survival post-bankruptcy could be hindered by expiring contracts with electric utilities and the shrinking demand for Central Appalachian coal.

Rural Electric Co-ops Can Renew Community Spirit

Thursday, April 10th, 2014 - posted by guestbloggers

{ Editor’s Note }We occasionally invite a guest to “pull up a chair” and share their views on issues important to you. Today’s post is from Brian Depew, the executive director of the Center for Rural Affairs, a group that works to establish strong rural communities, social and economic justice, environmental stewardship. This post, about how rural electric co-ops can renew community spirit, originally appeared on the Center for Rural Affairs’ clean energy blog.

I tore a page out of my rural electric co-op newsletter last fall. It is pinned it to my wall. I read it every day. It says, “Electric co-ops were constructed with lines, poles, and the foolhardy notion that we all prosper by helping each other.”

Brian Depew

Brian Depew

It’s so true. The cooperative spirit that brought electric service to rural America represents the community-driven values of small towns – values the Center works to uphold today.

More than 900 rural electric coops serve 42 million people in 47 states. Co-ops remain democratically controlled, run by elected customer-members. But the co-ops have drifted from their community-oriented mission.

Increasingly, they rely disproportionately on coal for generation. Seventy percent of the power co-ops deliver comes from burning coal. The number has fallen to 37 percent nationwide. The ironies are three-fold.

Cost: Electric co-ops serve 327, or 93 percent, of the nation’s 353 counties suffering the deepest and most persistent poverty.

These counties would benefit from affordable electric rates and the economic development potential of developing renewable resources. As the cost of coal has risen and the cost of renewables has fallen, co-ops have failed to respond.

As a result, co-op electric rates are now 9 percent higher than neighboring utilities. Nationwide 350 co-ops charge 15 percent more, and 175 co-ops charge 30 percent more.

Opportunity: Rural electric coops are in a tremendous position to create economic opportunity by investing in local energy. Co-ops serve 75 percent of the nation’s land area, including a vast majority of the best wind and solar resources in the country.

Developing these resources would represent a direct investment in their communities. Take one small example. Research shows that every two megawatts of wind energy installed creates one job and increases county-level personal income by $22,000.

foolhardy2-300px

Money spent in the community stays in the community. Creating a resilient energy industry that will last decades into the future is one of the easiest and smartest steps a community can take to tackle long-term economic challenges.

Democratic Control: The democratically elected board members of these co-ops are in an enviable position to jump start economic growth.

As we travel the country, we hear a consistent theme. Many of you want to invest in renewable resources. You want your co-ops to invest in community-based wind, and you want your co-ops to work with you (not against you) to invest in farm and home-based energy systems.

Repeated public polling bears out the anecdotes. Rural people support greater development of renewable energy sources. They are even willing to pay more for the initial investment.

Yet, there is a disconnect between what you want and what your democratically controlled co-op delivers.

Renewing Spirit: This is why it is time to renew the community spirit that built co-ops. I believe in the foolhardy notion that we all prosper by helping each other. I know you do to.

Eighty years ago that meant coming together to sink poles in the ground and string lines between them. Today it means reinvigorating the democratic control of our local co-ops and harnessing the power of local energy development.

It starts in my community and in your community. You can run for your local co-op board. If you are already on your co-op board, get in touch. We are networking like-minded board members from across the country.

If you are a customer-member of a co-op, pick up the phone and tell your elected board you envision a future where co-ops invest closer to home, creating local opportunity.

Together, we’ll put the public back in the driver’s seat of rural electric co-ops. Call us foolhardy, if you wish. But we are not the only ones.

Virginia Power Shifters intend to organize and win on climate

Thursday, April 10th, 2014 - posted by hannah

13696548693_a845c28fac_z (1)

Building up communities, empowering people to overcome oppression and standing up to polluters with grassroots strength: these were among the central themes of Virginia Power Shift, which took place at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond last weekend. Students worked tirelessly to involve campuses from all over the state, and delegations traveled from every corner of Virginia to join in the hard work (and, yes, also the play) that constitute this amazing young leaders’ summit.

An eye-opening and inspiring convergence of developing leaders and newly-born activists and loads of young reformers in between, the event showcased a movement on the rise, bringing social justice, climate and energy, pro-democracy and equality campaigns into one space to share skills and generate new approaches to problems.

13696519575_3a5f82ca4c_z

Words don’t seem to capture the Power Shift ethic and attitude of heightened awareness and an open-minded way of caring for all people struggling for fairness and equity, but the picture above captures some of the substance and spirit of the weekend of learning and action.

Workshops given on the issues of the moment ranged from student debt to mountaintop removal mining, renewable energy to voter suppression, privilege and discrimination to corporate campaigning against greenwashing and unethical practices. Remarks by climate movement and environmental justice leaders like Energy Action Coalition’s Lillian Molina, Virginia New Majority’s Tram Nguyen, and the Hip Hop Caucus’ Reverend Lennox Yearwood capped off the conference on a high note.

The weekend of action and leadership is just the beginning of a redoubled effort to expand participation of students on campuses in the many organizing opportunities highlighted in Richmond, and in many other fights that this generation takes seriously.

Are you a student ready to engage in this powerful movement? Get with the active organizations on your campus, or check out the top-notch student coalition behind Power Shift 2014!

A Small (but important) Step: Appalachian Power’s New Energy Efficiency Proposal

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014 - posted by hannah
Appalachian Power Company recently announced two energy efficiency initiatives that will benefit ratepayers and the environment.

Appalachian Power Company recently announced two energy efficiency initiatives that will benefit ratepayers and the environment.

April began with a bright item of news in Virginia: Appalachian Power plans to begin providing energy efficiency programs for customers!

The proposal for which Appalachian Power is seeking approval from state regulators has a couple of parts, and the first is much-needed weatherization for low-income households.

According to the company’s news release, the program will serve rural inhabitants “who often have few resources or opportunity to invest in efficient homes or technology.” The intent is for local energy service companies weatherize homes and the program also includes distribution of compact fluorescent lightbulbs at area food banks.

This move befits a utility that wants to be a good neighbor; home weatherization assistance can help a family’s budget go farther, and it’s the kind of program that every utility should be expected to offer, especially in rural areas where it’s essential to relieve the burden of higher energy costs on residents.

Appalachian Power is also seeking approval for an A/C cycling program which would allow customers to opt in to a program to relieve demand on the grid during peak usage. These program typically work by installing a smart control on a home’s A/C unit that the utility can then control to turn off and on your unit during the hottest part of the day to reduce the amount of electricity that needs to be provided. The customer benefits by saving money on their electricity bill.

While utilities often try to market these types of programs as efficiency measures, it’s arguable whether that is accurate. Efficiency programs reduce overall energy consumption and therefore impact generation needs, whereas an A/C cycling program offers “peak shaving” which better distributes existing demand to eliminate the need to fire-up expensive coal plants during particularly hot parts of the day. The nuances of that can wait, but the bottom line is that both of the programs proposed by Appalachian Power Company are a step in the right direction and will benefit ratepayers.

Finally, if Appalachian Power sees the potential for cost-effectively balancing energy generation and demand through efficiency, it shouldn’t stop with these initial steps. Hopefully the company will soon be ready to take a bigger leap and offer a wider range of energy efficiency programs. With support from customers, Appalachian Power can be influenced to reduce wasted energy in a way that benefits families and the environment.

Be part of the effort to push for more robust energy efficiency programs from Appalachian Power.

A Moral Call to End Dangerous Coal Ash Storage

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014 - posted by Sarah Kellogg
Concerned citizens filled a church in Eden, N.C., last week to learn more about coal ash and the threats it poses to the environment and human health.

Concerned citizens filled a church in Eden, N.C., last week to learn more about coal ash and the threats it poses to the environment and human health.

Last Monday, concerned citizens packed the pews of a local church in Eden, N.C. The crowd, which was a diverse mixture of age, race and background, assembled for a town hall meeting on coal ash organized by the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP as a part of the Moral Monday movement.

Duke Energy’s Dan River coal-fired power plant is located in Eden, and it was there that a stormwater pipe below the massive coal ash pond failed in February, spewing thousands of tons of toxic laden coal ash into the Dan River.

Citizens are still seeing the effects of the spill. Mollusks and turtles are washing up dead on the banks of the Dan and local farmers are concerned that they may not be able to rely on water from the river this season or in the future.

The NAACP organized the meeting to raise awareness about the spill and its aftermath, but also to shed light on the coal ash problem that exists across North Carolina. The group is drawing attention to how most coal ash ponds are located in low-income communities and communities of color. Across the country, communities of color and poor families face environmental injustices that burden them with the economic and health impacts of pollution.

At the town hall meeting, Annie Brown gave testament to environmental injustices of coal ash. Brown has spent her entire life living near the Belews Creek Coal Plant, which has a coal ash pond with a capacity of more than four billion gallons — the largest in North Carolina. She has raised children and grandchildren in the area and has watched her family and neighbors become ill with unusual diseases and cancer. Brown bravely spoke to the packed church about her own health issues and the scores of her neighbors she has seen die prematurely over the years. Watch her entire speech here.

Annie Brown was one of seven panelists at the meeting. Others included representatives from Appalachian Voices, the Southern Environmental Law Center, NC WARN, and Dawn Witter, a resident of Danville, Va., who spoke eloquently about the economic effects the spill has had on the city and the potential health risks associated with water pollution. Witter explained that Danville was once a center for industry, and the community, economy and river have borne the burden of pollution for decades. For her, the Dan River spill was a painful continuation of that trend.

North Carolina NAACP President Rev. William Barber gave a rousing speech about the sinful nature of the issue. He pointed out that the same government that cut healthcare for the poor, also cut back environmental regulations that protect human health, especially for those North Carolinians’ who live in communities that are the most impacted by pollution.

The information presented at the town hall meeting left little doubt in participants’ minds that Duke Energy is not a trustworthy company. Time and time again, Duke has chosen to ignore the voices of the communities in which it stores its toxic waste dumps rather than acting as responsible neighbors and protecting communities from pollution in ways that would save lives.

Last week, Duke requested that citizen groups who have intervened in the state’s coal ash lawsuits be barred from participation. The judge has yet to make a decision, but based on Duke’s previous dismissal of community concerns, it is imperative that communities be given a voice in the lawsuit. Without anyone to advocate for their health, it is likely that Duke will continue to allow life-threatening pollution to contaminate communities.

To watch more of the town hall meeting, check out the live stream here.

Environmental Summer Camps 2014

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014 - posted by Kelsey Boyajian

By Kelsey Boyajian

Children having a blast at Camp Muddy Sneakers in Brevard, N.C.

Children having a blast at Camp Muddy Sneakers in Brevard, N.C.

Would you like to splash in a mountain creek and identify tree frogs? Study marine biology and learn about sea turtles in the sandy dunes of North Carolina? Or go on backpacking, horseback riding and tubing adventures in the foothills of eastern Tennessee? Browse our online listing of summer camp programs for all ages ranging from five to 18 years old. The majority of the programs have an emphasis on environmental sciences and sustainability, with outdoor activities including hiking, wilderness skills, field science and more. Programs offer opportunities for exciting challenges and games, and an interesting, fun-filled summer! Camp costs vary and some scholarships are available.

Camp Chattooga
Session: 1-8 week sessions (Open 6/1-8/2)
Location: Tallulah Falls, Ga.
Age Group: 7-14 years old (girls only)
Cost: $695-775
Participate in activities that encourage growth and development, including hiking, archery and arts and crafts. Cabins house 16 campers of various age groups.
Life Adventure Center of the Bluegrass
Session: 5 day session (Open 6/9-8/1)
Location: Versailles, Ky.
Age Group: 7-14 years old
Cost: $375 total (including $150 deposit)
Life Adventure Center is an educational nonprofit that offers campers various programs from environmental education, to wilderness living, to the challenge course. Campers are encouraged to engage, educate and empower each participant.
Sea Turtle Camp
Date: 6/15-6/27
and/or 7/27-8/8
Location: Topsail Island, N.C.
Age Group: 13-17 years old
Cost:$3,495 (including $1,195 deposit)
Marine Biology Open Water Scuba Camp
Escape the heat and explore the water of the Atlantic. The Sea Turtle Open Water SCUBA Camp is for ages 13-17. Campers will be trained by the best divers on the East Coast, and by the end of the session they will receive their SCUBA certification from the National Association of Underwater instructors. Camp tuition includes suites on Topsail Island, all meals, all equipment, professional scuba instruction, transportation, 24-hour supervision.
Sea Turtle Camp
Date: 6/22-7/2
Location: Topsail Island, N.C.
Age Group: 13-17 years old
Cost:$2,895 (including $995 deposit)
Marine Biology Immersion Camp
An 11-day session where campers will spend 15 hours working with the volunteers of the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Hospital. Campers will participate in rehabilitation at the hospital, conduct sea turtle nest walks, learn about salt marshes and sea turtles and study marine debris in the Sargasso Sea and other oceanic surface currents. Campers will earn up to 25 hours of community service.
Green River Preserve
Session: One to three weeks (Open 6/8-8/8)
Location: Blue Ridge Mountains, N.C.
Age Group: 2nd-9th graders
Cost: $1275-$3600
Green River Preserve provides opportunities for young children and teens to connect with nature in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina. Campers will spend time on hiking, campouts, afternoon activities and group learning projects. Through the activities, campers will learn healthy and rewarding ways to spend their free time.
Eagle’s Nest
Session: One to three weeks (Open 6/7-8/10)
Location: Pisgah Forest, N.C.
Age Group: 5th-9th graders
Cost: $2575-$3990 *financial aid available
Join Eagle’s Nest Camp, located in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains in N.C., with campers from all around the world. Campers are encouraged to grow simply with activities that promote self-expression, personal growth, skill building and fun. Camp activities are related to wilderness, arts and music, athletics, classes and other special activities.
UNCW Marine Quest
Session: One to three weeks
Location: Wilmington, N.C.
Age Group: Varies
Cost: Varies
UNCW MarineQuest offers a variety of different programs for that suit different age groups. Campers can observe marine organisms up close, conduct hands-on science experiments, play educational field games and crafts, or explore the ocean through more service learning programs.
Camp Muddy Sneakers
Session: 5 Days (Open 6/9-8/8)
Location: Brevard, N.C., Asheville, N.C., or Fletcher, N.C.
Age Group: 5th graders
Cost: $295
A new and exciting day camp located in western N.C. that seeks to educate rising 4th through 7th graders on the natural world through hands-on exploration. Camp Muddy Sneakers offers an innovative day camp that seeks to build on each organizations’ recognized environmental education programming while filling a niche in the current summer camp offerings.
Western North Carolina Nature Center
Session: 1 week (8:30am- 3pm); open 6/16-8/8
Location: Asheville, N.C.
Age Group: Pre-school- Elementary school
Cost: $70-175
Each session has a different theme covering subjects such as plants and animals, social studies and the arts and sciences. Crafts and lessons in the classroom will encourage environmental awareness among children.
National Environmental Summit
Date: July 8-12
Location: Salisbury, N.C.
Age Group: High School (14-17 years of age)
Cost: $490
The 2014 National Environmental Summit for High School Students will be led by the Center for the Environment at Catawba College and the Rocky Mountain Institute. Participants will learn the skills needed to create a sustainable environment in their futures. Small workshops will also teach students leadership skills.
Camp Explore
Session: One week (Open 5/26-7/11)
Location: Greeneville, Tenn.
Age Group: 4th-6th graders (grade just completed)
Cost: $25 for day trip, $100 for overnight trip
Camp Explore is committed to enhance student awareness, knowledge, and appreciation of the environment by teaching and modeling good character traits while exploring nature. The camp features environmental education, character education, hands-on experiential activities, critical-thinking development, cooperative learning and more.
Smoky Mountain Adventure Camp
Session: 5 days to 4 weeks (Open 6/22-7/25)
Location: Smoky Mountains, Tenn.
Age Group 8-18 years old
Cost: $795 – $2795
Take an adventure with Smoky Mountain Adventure Camp. Activities include backcountry hikes, caving, rock climbing, rafting, tubing, horseback riding and overnight backpacking expeditions at the foothills of East Tennessee.
Tate’s Day Camp
Session: 4 to 5 days (Open 5/27-8/1)
Location: Knoxville, Tenn.
Age: 3-13 years old
Cost: $266- $286
Tate’s Day Camp offers traditional camp activities. Through hands-on activities and low counselor-to-camper ratios, campers are given opportunities to build self-esteem and allowed individual growth and maturity.
Camp Idyllwild
Session: One-night sleepover, and 4 to 5 days (Open 5/27-8/7)
Location: Duck River, Tenn.
Age Group: 5-13 years old
Cost: $300 for weekly sessions. Discount may apply.
Camp Idyllwild provides opportunities for campers to explore nature in an unstructured way and use their imaginations to discover their environment. Campers will build forts, explore creeks, hike, make arts and crafts, and learn about organic gardening. Camp Idyllwild’s child-centered camp philosophy allows campers to make choices throughout the day and encourages independent thinking and decision-making.
Nature Camp
Session: 2-3 weeks (Open 6/15-8/9)
Location: Rockbridge County, Va.
Age Group: 7-15 years old
Cost: $815 *financial aid available
Nature Camp offers educational and recreational programs. Founded by Lillian Schilling of Afton, Va., in 1942, this camp educates campers on the importance of conserving and protecting the environment.
Browne Summer Camp
Session: 8 weeks, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
Location: Alexandria, Va.
Age Group: 3-13
Cost: $270-$390 per week for mini camp. $390 for both junior and senior camps.
Browne Summer Camp offers a variety of activities to meet the interests of our campers and increase self-confidence and pride. Activities include daily swimming with certified lifeguards, art, sports, music, dance, technology, nature, drama and more.
Wilderness Adventure at Eagle Landing
Session: 1-4 weeks (Open 6/15-8/23)
Location: New Castle, Va.
Age Group: 8-18 years old
Cost: $795- $2640
Wilderness Adventure at Eagle Landing lies on 500 acres in the Blue Ridge Mountains, just 35 miles northwest of Roanoke, Va. Campers can explore the outdoors learn about wildlife. Provided programs are designed to challenge children both physically and mentally, but the ultimate goal is the fun, friendship and camaraderie that can only be found around a campfire, sleeping under the stars.
West Virginia State Conservation Camp
Session: One six-day session (6/9-6/14)
Location: Webster County, W.Va.
Age Group: 14-18
Cost: $185, scholarships available
WV State Conservation Camp is located on the edge of Monongahela National Forest in the towering mountains of southern Webster County, West Virginia. Campers can enjoy an action-packed week filled with interactive workshops, group assemblies, recreation opportunities, evening campfires and social events.
Burgundy Center for Wildlife Studies
Session: 3-12 days (Open 6/22-7/27)
Location: Capon Bridge, W.Va.
Age Group: Ages 8-21+
Cost: $880- $1520
Located in a remote valley of the West Virginian Appalachians, the Burgundy Center offers campers great ways to explore nature. Small camp size fosters camaraderie.Campers may get to see deer, dragonflies, red-spotted newts and more.
Camp Greenbrier for Boys
Session: 3-6 weeks (Open 6/29-8/9)
Location: Alderson, W.Va.
Age Group: 7-18 years old (boys only)
Cost: $2775- $4750
Camp Greenbrier For Boys, found in 1898, is located on the banks of the Greenbrier River in Alderson, West Virginia. Operated by the same family for three generations, Camp Greenbrier is a safe haven where boys have fun, gain self-confidence, and make lifelong friends.
Camp Rim Rock for Girls
Session: 1-4 weeks (Open 6/29-8/23)
Location: Yellow Spring, W.Va.
Age Group: 6-16 years old (girls only)
Cost: $1300-$4200
Operating for over sixty years and regarded by campers and camp professionals as one of the finest camps for girls, Camp Rim Rock Camp for Girls offers a well-rounded program. Activities include performing arts, arts and crafts, horseback riding, various sports and more.
Camp High Rocks
Dates: June 14th-27th or July 12th-27th
Location: Hillsboro, W.Va.
Age Group: 7th grade (First session) and 8th-11th grade (Second session); girls only
Cost: Free *recommendations required
Camp High Rocks serves girls from three rural counties in West Virginia: Pocahontas, Nicholas and Greenbrier. High Rocks teaches young women leadership skills, the value of building a community and how to live healthy and empowered lifestyles.
Full Circles Foundation
Dates: July 14-August 1 (4-day sessions)
Location: Raleigh, N.C. & Lexington, Ky.
Age Group: 4-17 years old; girls only
Cost: Free *recommendations required
Full Circles Foundation’s Strong Camp is a residential program for young women that helps to promote a strong self, strong neighbor and strong home in their day-to-day lives, through lessons on culture, community-building and our global systems.
Rolling Academy
Session: 1 session (6/24-7/7)
Location: Across the U.S.
Age Group: 9th-11th graders
Cost: Free *recommendations required
This advanced leadership academy is based out of a van that travels all throughout the United States. Participants will see anything from a West Virginia coal mine to New York City on their excursions. Participants must be from Watauga County, N.C., to apply and are selected by a committee after being recommended.
Camp Easter Seals UCP
Session: 6 and 12 day sessions (6/8-8/16)
Location: North Carolina & Virginia
Age Group: All ages
Cost: $1,000-4,600 *scholarships available
Easter Seals UCP is a camp working specifically with disabled children and adults with assistance available through trained staff members. Campers participate in anything from sleeping under the stars to canoeing down Craig’s Creek or even riding a horse. Easter Seals provides a life changing experience for any age.

Duke Energy Appeals Court Order to End Coal Ash Groundwater Pollution

Friday, April 4th, 2014 - posted by brian
Duke Energy says its accountable but continues to delay any real action on coal ash.

Duke Energy says it’s accountable for its coal ash pollution while evading responsibility and delaying any real action.

Duke Energy has appealed a March 6 ruling by a Wake County judge that it must take immediate action to end groundwater pollution from its coal ash ponds at its coal-fired power plants in North Carolina.

The company also asked the N.C. Court of Appeals to freeze an order to clean up its coal ash pollution until the appeal can be heard.

From the Charlotte Business Journal:

Duke contends that if the stay is not granted “years of planning … will be eliminated, and significant material costs will be imposed on Duke Energy and its customers while this matter is pending appeal.”

And if an appellate court overturns the ruling, it argues, Duke and its customers will be harmed by a ruling that is no longer in force.

If you’re skeptical that Duke Energy has invested “years of planning” into how to better manage its toxic coal waste, well, you have every reason to be.

After all, would a company that has spent years of planning to resolve its coal ash issues pump 61 million gallons of toxic wastewater from coal ash ponds directly in to the Cape Fear River and call it “routine maintenance?”

Would a company that has spent years of planning to protect the public from high hazard coal ash ponds miss a large crack in an earthen dam holding back millions of gallons of sludge?

Or how about when the state asked Duke Energy to send it comprehensive documentation on how it plans to address its coal ash problem, and the letter Gov. McCrory and the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resource received was four-pages long? Even DENR Secretary John Skvarla called the response “inadequate.”

“There are far too many questions left unanswered and Duke Energy should provide the information we originally requested, including the estimated costs of cleanup, plans for the future and a detailed timeline,” Skvarla said.

Don’t you think a company that has spent “years of planning” on the issue of coal ash would have some of that information? Oh, and it was only last week that Duke Energy announced it had created a “task force” to review how it handles coal ash. And the company was quick to update a website with details about its Coal Plant Decommissioning Program after the Dan River spill.

CEO Lynn Good and other Duke representatives have repeatedly said the company is accountable for the Dan River spill and coal ash pollution at other plants. So why does the company seem so focused on evading its responsibility?