Brian is an environmental news junkie concerned with our lagging energy policy and revealing the true cost of coal on our health, the environment and the climate. He is Appalachian Voices' Program and Development Communications Coordinator.
Thursday, February 26th, 2015 | Posted by Brian Sewell | No Comments
Duke Energy likes to use a tagline about how, for more than 100 years, it has provided affordable, reliable electricity to its customers "at the flip of a switch." But a year after the Dan River spill, Duke seems to accept that coal ash pollution has its own chapter in the company’s corporate story. Now, facing federal criminal charges, Duke will pay for its crimes.
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Friday, February 20th, 2015 | Posted by Brian Sewell | 5 Comments
The U.S. Department of Justice has filed criminal charges against Duke Energy for violating the federal Clean Water Act at coal ash sites across North Carolina. The company announced today that it has reached a plea agreement with federal prosecutors to resolve the charges that includes $102.2 million for fines and mitigation. [ More ]
Wednesday, February 18th, 2015 | Posted by Brian Sewell | No Comments
From The Appalachian Voice Online: As one of the most high-profile and hyped-up projects of its kind, the FutureGen “clean coal” plant in Illinois was supposed make history. So the announcement that the U.S. Department of Energy is backing out of its $1.1 billion funding promise to the project sent a shockwave through the coal sector and investors, energy analysts and environmentalists all took note. [ More ]
Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015 | Posted by Brian Sewell | 2 Comments
The Obama administration’s 2016 budget calls for hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funds to be spent cleaning up abandoned strip mines, and to support economic development and workforce training in mining communities facing layoffs as coal is increasingly outcompeted in America’s energy mix. Read a statement from Appalachian Voices Legislative Associate Thom Kay on the proposals.
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Thursday, January 8th, 2015 | Posted by Brian Sewell | No Comments
From The Appalachian Voice Online: "Secret Wisdom of the Earth," the debut novel by Christopher Scotton released this week, is a coming-of-age story that takes familiar themes — tragedy and the quest to find healing — and explores them with the backdrop of a Central Appalachian community beset by mountaintop removal coal mining. [ More ]
Friday, December 19th, 2014 | Posted by Brian Sewell | 1 Comment
The day we've been waiting for has finally come. No, not Friday -- the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to release its long-awaited coal ash rule. But, as expected, the EPA's new rule does not go far enough to truly fix the major pollution problems associated with coal ash including contamination of waterways and drinking water supplies.
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Wednesday, December 17th, 2014 | Posted by Brian Sewell | No Comments
New York’s debate over whether or not to allow fracking came to a close today when Gov. Andrew Cuomo sided with the state’s top public health and environmental officials in calling for a ban on the practice. The announcement was exceptional for the much-needed truth it inserts into the fracking fight that could, just maybe, help other states come to their senses. [ More ]
Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014 | Posted by Brian Sewell | No Comments
After a tumultuous two years as secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, John Skvarla is stepping over to lead the state’s Commerce Department. No word from Gov. Pat McCrory on who will replace Skvarla yet, but here’s to hoping his successor is the environmental leader DENR deserves and North Carolina desperately needs. [ More ]
Wednesday, October 29th, 2014 | Posted by Brian Sewell | No Comments
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has sent the long-awaited Coal Ash Rule to the White House for final review. But until the agency's Dec. 19 deadline, we likely won't know much about how far the final rule will go to protect communities from coal ash pollution. And that's probably just how the White House wants it. [ More ]
Thursday, October 16th, 2014 | Posted by Brian Sewell | 1 Comment
The North Carolina Utilities Commission (somehow) decided that even though the legislature cut North Carolina’s corporate income tax rate from 6.9 percent to 5 percent last year, Duke Energy and other public utilities can continue charging customers at 6.9 percent and pocket the difference. Meanwhile, for three consecutive quarters, Duke has received a larger rate of return than authorized by state regulators, or in this case, the utilities commission.
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Thursday, October 9th, 2014 | Posted by Brian Sewell | 6 Comments
An employee of a state-certified company pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the federal Clean Water Act after he faked compliant water quality samples for coal companies between 2008 and 2013. While we’re appalled by this discovery, it is hard to be surprised.
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Wednesday, September 10th, 2014 | Posted by Brian Sewell | 2 Comments
If you find yourself staring at spinning wheels on some of your favorite sites today, take a moment to imagine what an unfair internet would look like. Because if an open Internet is not maintained, the future could hold significant challenges for advocacy groups of all types, independent journalism, entrepreneurs and anyone who uses the web as a resource to learn or communicate about issues close to their heart. [ More ]