UNC Wilmington solves mystery of GenX in rainfall

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Add a little water and presto, you get a toxic downpour:

UNCW also tested rainwater samples to determine if GenX showed up there. When it did, they alerted the state and then tried to figure out where it was coming from. Ultimately, they determined that while GenX itself isn’t being spread through the air, a chemical that rapidly turns into GenX when mixed with water likely is coming from Chemours’ stacks.

Pam Seaton, the chair of UNCW’s department of chemistry and biochemistry, said, “The precusor to GenX at Chemours is what’s called an acid fluoride, and when it touches water it turns into GenX. What they emit, apparently, through the stacks at Chemours is the acid fluoride. ... We could actually see within minutes the precursor being converted to GenX, which then is wherever the rain takes it.”

I'd be willing to bet my last dollar that Chemours' chemists were well aware something like this would happen to those emissions, and I would also bet that installing some form of scrubbers could greatly reduce that effect. But that costs money, and you know what that means. Unless they are forced to install it, it ain't happening. GenX is also embedding itself into river bottom sediment, which means it will be seeping into the water for a long time even after all discharges have stopped:

Thursday News: All about the Benjamins

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GOVERNOR COOPER BATTLES GOP LEGISLATURE OVER CONTROL OF FUNDS: Legal teams for Gov. Roy Cooper and his Republican foils in the General Assembly were back in court Wednesday, arguing over money. They disagree over which branch of government ultimately controls certain types of spending, and Superior Court Judge Henry Hight heard arguments about federal block grants and the millions set to flow from the Volkswagen settlement fund, which was created to end lawsuits tied to the car company's faulty vehicle emissions figures. Hight said he would rule on those two issues, which account for $183 million in a much broader legal dispute, as soon as Friday. The Cooper administration argues that it can direct this spending within certain limits.
http://www.wral.com/cooper-republicans-spar-over-control-of-millions/17463931/

Coal Ash Wednesday: Duke Energy's self-regulating "research" is flawed

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Extracted from the 2017 4th quarter Executive Summary of the Allen Steam Station:

An update to the 2016 human health and ecological risk assessment was conducted. There is no evidence of unacceptable risk to humans and wildlife at Allen attributed to CCR constituent migration in groundwater from the ash basins. The only evidence of potential unacceptable human related risks estimated in the 2016 risk assessment was under the hypothetical subsistence fisherman scenario due to concentrations of cobalt in fish tissue. This risk assessment update supports that the fisher risks were overestimated based on conservative exposure (it is unlikely subsistence fishermen exist in the area) and modeled fish tissue uptake assumptions (modeled concentrations likely exceed actual fish tissue concentrations if measured), supporting a risk classification of “Low” based upon groundwater related considerations.

This is not research, it's rhetoric, carefully crafted to leave the reader confident there's nothing to worry about. The "cobalt in fish" thing is simply a red herring, if you'll pardon my use of a salt water species to drive home a point. If they reported they'd found nothing at all, people wouldn't believe them. So we get cobalt in fish, that nobody's going to eat anyway. Just an aside: Cobalt concentrations detected in at least three common species have been proven to reduce appetite, subsequently stunting growth in the fish affected. The truth is, there are several other toxins even worse than cobalt leaking from the Allen plant:

Wednesday News: Three cheers for Josh

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NC AG JOINS LAWSUIT TO BLOCK CENSUS QUESTIONS ABOUT IMMIGRANT STATUS: North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein has joined an effort to block the Trump administration from adding a question about citizenship to the 2020 census. In a multi-state move, 12 attorneys general filed a lawsuit in federal court on Tuesday alleging that demanding such information could skew actual resident numbers in states with large immigrant populations. That could threaten the fair allocation of hundreds of billions of dollars of federal grants and funding for education, roads and infrastructure, Stein and the other attorneys general stated. Additionally, census data are used to redraw political boundaries — from Congress to local school boards and commissions and allocate Electoral College seats.
http://www.newsobserver.com/latest-news/article207794039.html

Tuesday News: Walkout

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TEACHERS IN OKLAHOMA AND KENTUCKY ARE FIGHTING BACK AGAINST POOR PAY AND MISTREATMENT: Many schools will remain closed for a second day in Oklahoma Tuesday as teachers rally for higher pay and education funding in a rebellion that has hit several Republican-led states across the country. Oklahoma's three largest school districts, Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Edmond, will remain closed Tuesday to honor the walkout. The Kentucky teachers are mad because Republican lawmakers passed a pension overhaul last week that cuts benefits for new teachers. Opponents objected that the pension changes were inserted into an unrelated bill without a chance for public input, and worry that the changes will discourage young people from joining the profession.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/business/article207772929.html

Tuesday Twitter roundup

If this isn't in your top ten most important issues, you're part of the problem:

I don't usually play that "you're part of the problem" card, but there simply is no region/area where affordable housing isn't becoming a crisis. We all need to work on this.

Kudos to the NC DOT for expanding public transportation into rural areas

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This is what planning for the future looks like:

One of the fastest growing states in the nation, North Carolina is expected to see its population rise to more than 12.5 million people by 2040 – a 32 percent increase from the state's 2010 population. That's why it is crucial that North Carolina's public transportation systems keep up with the changing population and connect residents in urban and rural areas to opportunities and services such as jobs, higher education, healthcare and recreation.

Partnerships between the N.C. Department of Transportation and local governments, regional authorities and other state agencies have been the source of North Carolina's transit success. Currently under development, the Public Transportation Statewide Strategic Plan will build upon that success by creating the foundation for reinvigorated state and local transit partnerships.

Just a quick note on the image above: I took that shot on the opening day of our Link Transit service here in Alamance County in June of 2016. While it does not reach into rural areas as much as I'd like to see, it has provided access to many of our citizens to our hospital and various clinics, our community college (main and satellite campuses), and of course grocery stores not within walking distance. I'm posting this as a sort of "counterpoint" piece, since Art Pope's minions have already pounced on this new plan as a waste of money. After having to argue that issue several times in-person or in meetings, I wrote this Op-Ed last year as an across-the-board rebuttal:

More bullsh/t from Dallas Woodhouse

When you don't have a leg to stand on, make shit up, then double down and make up even more. Tell the lies often enough and loudly enough, and you'll convince a whole bunch of right-wing zealots to believe anything you say. What a sickening display of pure, unadulterated garbage.

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