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Rhiannon Fionn
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Award-winning indie journalist on a big adventure. Also @coal_ash Member: SEJ, SPJ, IRE, Freelancer's Union
Award-winning indie journalist on a big adventure. Also @coal_ash Member: SEJ, SPJ, IRE, Freelancer's Union

848 followers
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Rhiannon's posts

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See you there!

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My latest for +Creative Loafing Charlotte ... a fun mix of two of my favorite things: The opera and environmental journalism.

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Add your name to the voices calling for the Associated Press to instruct journalists and media organizations to stop publishing the names of murderers involved in mass shootings. #UCCshootings

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WATER POLLUTION: Rule could force ash pond closures
Annie Snider, E&E reporter
Published: Wednesday, September 30, 2015

New toxic discharge rules finalized by U.S. EPA today could push coal-fired power plants to close ash ponds across the country, a complicated and costly proposition, industry experts say.

The new rule, which sets technology-based limits for the discharge of toxic metals from coal plants, requires plants producing more than 50 megawatts of power to dispose of both fly ash and bottom ash in dry landfills rather than wet impoundments (Greenwire, Sept. 30). Fly ash and bottom ash are just two of several coal combustion wastes known as coal ash.

Most fly ash has already been going to landfills, but at many plants the bottom ash has still been stored in ponds, said Jim Wedeking, an attorney with the firm Sidley Austin LLP, which has represented Duke Energy Corp. in North Carolina.

Duke is in the process of closing all of its coal ash ponds in North Carolina following a spill last year and a new state law. The company is excavating and relocating at least some of the material to dry landfills.

"The rule does not require ash basin closures, but eventually, after [plant managers] deal with all of the requirements of this rule, they will likely look at their ash basins and go, 'Well, why are we still maintaining this?'" Wedeking said.

Earlier this year, EPA finalized a rule to govern the disposal of coal ash. Despite pressure from environmental groups, EPA decided against forcing the phaseout of wet ash impoundments. The new rule, however, adds tougher standards for disposal.

The final rule also sets new pollution limits for wastewater from smokestack scrubbers -- called flue gas desulfurization (FGD) wastewater -- that are based on both chemical precipitation and biological treatment. Those processes require large settling tanks and other new infrastructure that can be costly.

Combined, Wedeking predicted that these new requirements could tip the balance against keeping some coal-fired power plants open. Numerous plants have closed or may shut down because of other rules or market conditions.

"I think that for some plants that are already on the bubble for some companies -- older, smaller to mid-range-size plants that are really reduced to non-baseload duties right now -- they could close," he said. "It's not going to be a massive wave of closures, but for the ones that are already sort of on the brink, it could [encourage closure]."

The Electric Edison Institute, the trade association for investor-owned utilities, said it is still reviewing the new rule. But the groups' vice president for environmental issues, Quin Shea, said the new rule stands to increase costs that will get passed along to consumers.

"Throughout the rulemaking process, EEI and its members urged EPA to set technologically feasible and cost-effective achievable limits that apply nationally to a broad range of facilities," he said in a statement. "Despite some very limited changes EPA made to the [effluent limitations guidelines], significant implementation challenges remain that have the potential to create compliance challenges and increase customer costs."

But Shea did welcome changes to the compliance schedule made in the final rule, which he said appeared to be better aligned with timelines for other pending rules, including the Clean Power Plan.

Reporter Manuel Quiñones contributed.

Twitter:@AnnElizabeth18 Email: asnider@eenews.net

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Excerpt:
He goes quiet for a moment. "It certainly does creep in, as a parent," he says quietly, his eyes to the ground.

But let's get real, he says, fossil fuels are the dominant industry on earth, and you can't expect meaningful political change with them in control. "There's a growing consensus that there must be a shock to the system."

#climate

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Good. I hope he stays on the national stage as long as he can. And, who knows? (Remember when folks swore Obama would never beat Hils?)
"We are witnessing the largest upsurge of economic populism in recent American history. The fight for a $15 minimum wage, the opposition to the Trans Pacific Partnership, the avowed concern about widening inequality even among Republican candidates, and the surging popularity of Senator +Bernie Sanders all give evidence.

Unlike the Occupy Movement, which eschewed politics, this new movement is committed to political change. Does it herald a fundamental change in America?" -- #RobertReich -- https://www.facebook.com/RBReich/posts/1022057027806893

#Sanders2016

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"Noam Chomsky: How Climate Change Became a 'Liberal Hoax'
In this sixth video in the series "Peak Oil and a Changing Climate" from The Nation and On The Earth Productions, linguist, philosopher and political activist Noam Chomsky talks about the Chamber of Commerce, the American Petroleum Institute and other business lobbies enthusiastically carrying out campaigns "to try and convince the population that global warming is a liberal hoax." According to Chomsky, this massive public relations campaign has succeeded in leading a good portion of the population into doubting the human causes of global warming.

"Known for his criticism of the media, Chomsky doesn't hold back in this clip, laying blame on mainstream media outlets such as the New York Times, which will run frontpage articles on what meteorologists think about global warming. "Meteorologists are pretty faces reading scripts telling you whether it's going to rain tomorrow," Chomsky says. "What do they have to say any more than your barber?" All this is part of the media's pursuit of "fabled objectivity."

"Of particular concern for Chomsky is the atmosphere of anger, fear and hostility that currently reigns in America. The public's hatred of Democrats, Republicans, big business and banks and the public's distrust of scientists all lead to general disregard for the findings of "pointy-headed elitists." The 2010 elections could be interpreted as a "death knell for the species" because most of the new Republicans in Congress are global warming deniers. "If this was happening in some small country," Chomsky concludes, "it wouldn't matter much. But when it's happening in the richest, most powerful country in the world, it's a danger to the survival of the species." "

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VIDEO: Rain pouring off coal ash retaining wall at Asheville, North Carolina, Airport https://youtu.be/LGeSO5_KxIE #coalash #water #AVL #NC

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Aurora Borealis in California and Nevada
I added two successively cropped views of the aurora borealis time-lapse from early yesterday morning so you can see more detail:
https://youtu.be/7RVbUXz94ac

#astronomy   #science   #news  
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