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News release from Buncombe County:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) will hold a listening session to solicit input from community members regarding the EPA’s communication with residents impacted by the CTS of Asheville Superfund Site. Comments must address communications that occurred after January 2012 related to:

  • Site sampling and monitoring.
  • Schedules and milestones for planned and completed site activities.
  • Site cleanup progress to date.
  • Safeguards in place for protecting human health as cleanup activities continue.

Thursday, August 21, 6 – 8 p.m.
T.C. Roberson High School Auditorium
250 Overlook Road, Asheville
All local residents are invited to share their experiences.

Each community member will be given three minutes to speak on the specified subject areas – with the possibility of additional time after all others have spoken. The OIG requests that participants follow a few ground rules: (1) Avoid talking while others are speaking, (2) Refrain from personal confrontations or attacks, and (3) Respect agreements about time. The OIG will hear oral statements and collect supporting documentation to aid in determining whether the EPA has been communicating as required and if communication has been timely. A comment box also will be made available to submit written statements.

On July 22, 2014, the OIG announced a review of CTS site sampling, monitoring, communication and opportunities for site cleanup efficiencies. The OIG is an independent office within the EPA that performs audits, evaluations and investigations of the EPA and its contractors to promote economy and efficiency, and to prevent and detect fraud, waste and abuse. Through program evaluation work, the OIG contributes to improved environmental quality and human health. The OIG strives to provide solutions to problems that ultimately result in making America a cleaner and healthier place.

For more information about the OIG, visit www.epa.gov/oig and follow us on Twitter at @EPAoig.

Categories Stay Informed
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forestview

Would you or someone you know like to be considered for a leadership position at the only grassroots environmental advocacy group focused solely on conserving Western North Carolina’s natural heritage?

We are looking for candidates to fill four positions on the board of this newly merged organization that includes the Western North Carolina Alliance (WNCA), the Environmental and Conservation Organization (ECO), and the Jackson Macon Conservation Alliance (JMCA) beginning Jan. 1, 2015.

Board members ensure that the organization continues to be well managed and remains fiscally sound. Members also support the organization by raising money, bringing contacts to the organization and acting as ambassadors to the community.

We are seeking candidates who:

  • Bring geographic and much-needed racial diversity to the composition of our leadership
  • Are well networked in the community
  • Are strategic thinkers
  • Have skills and experience that will benefit the organization especially in accounting/finance, fundraising, communications, and legal
  • Will commit the necessary time (i.e. attend bi-monthly meetings, serve on subcommittees and attend events)

Nomination Guidelines:

Nominations must be submitted to WNCA Co-Director Bob Wagner at BobW@WNCA.org by Aug. 31.

In your nomination, please include the person’s name, contact information (email, phone), county they live in, and one to two paragraphs describing why you are nominating this person.

It is not necessary to contact the person prior to submitting their nomination. The Governance Committee will follow up with you and the nominee.

asheville green drinksWNCA and Sierra Club will present an Asheville Green Drinks program focused on solid waste reduction and composting in Asheville with Maggie Ullman, Asheville’s chief sustainability officer and Eric Bradford of Asheville Greenworks at 7 p.m. Sept. 3 at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 1 Edwin Place at the intersection of Charlotte Street.

Green Drinks is free and open to the public. For more information, email judymattox@sbcglobal.net or call (828) 683-2176

 

Categories Events Calendar
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watauga river gorge

Watauga River Gorge

The Western North Carolina Alliance (WNCA) is seeking an individual to serve as both Regional Director and Watauga Riverkeeper in its high country regional office based in Boone. 

For more than 30 years, WNCA has been a trusted community partner, marshaling grassroots support to keep our forests healthy, our air and water clean, and our communities vibrant. With a combination of policy advocacy, scientific research, and community collaboration, the Alliance unleashes the power of citizens’ voices to protect the natural heritage of our region, so that people and the environment can thrive.

Regional offices serve the following functions in their respective regions:

  • To be a resource for the public on environmental issues
  • To engage, organize, and lead citizens in work/advocacy on local environmental issues and on state and federal issues that are priorities for the organization
  • To organize membership outreach events
  • To build and maintain relationships with major donors

The Watauga Riverkeeper serves the following functions in its watershed:

  • To be a public advocate for the watershed with government agencies, partner groups, the community, and the media, including taking these stakeholders on the river as needed and  monitoring, investigating, documenting, and reporting harmful activity
  • To create programs and initiatives to improve the watershed and to recruit and manage volunteers to support those programs
  • To work in partnership with other NC Riverkeepers on statewide initiatives and the Waterkeeper Alliance on national campaigns that relate to the Watauga River watershed
  • To actively seek funding to support Riverkeeper programs and initiatives

To fulfill their duties, the Regional Director/Riverkeeper should be:

  • Passionate and committed to preserving the environment, fluent on environmental issues (particularly water), and able to teach and engage people on these issues
  • Able to organize, coordinate, and lead people toward a common goal
  • Comfortable engaging and leading citizens in policy advocacy at all levels of government
  • Comfortable working with a range of people and interests
  • Able to build relationships with major donors and other funders
  • Able to coordinate with staff working in other locations
  • Able to formulate for the region yearly goals, benchmarks, and operating budget.

Therefore, the following are requirements for the Regional Director/Riverkeeper:

  • Significant experience with watershed science, stream ecology, Clean Water Act enforcement, environmental policy, or other relevant areas such as conservation, water access and recreation, or environmental advocacy
  • Experience in community organizing, membership development, campaigns, or other position requiring coordination of people
  • Experience paddling and ability to safely take others on the river
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Good decision-making, problem-solving and interpersonal skills
  • Teaching skills
  • Ability to work as part of a team as well as independently
  • Ability to work on many projects at once and maintain attention to details
  • Ability to work across political, social, and economic lines
  • A bachelor’s degree

The following are preferred:

  • Master’s degree or other advanced degree in a field related to the environment
  • Advocacy experience
  • Fundraising or membership outreach experience
  • Familiarity with Waterkeeper grassroots model and movement
  • Experience with online communications tools and video technology

Competitive salary commensurate with experience and excellent benefits package.

How to apply:

Send cover letter, resume and three references to Julie Mayfield, Co-Director, Julie@WNCA.org.

Subject line should read: “Regional Director/Watauga Riverkeeper.”

Application deadline:  Aug. 31, 2014

 EEO

OLLI_UNCA_v03This fall, from Sept. 16 – Nov. 8, join Western North Carolina Alliance staffers and the College for Seniors (CFS) for a six-week course on the Ecology of the Southern Appalachian Mountains.

CFS is a program of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (formerly OLLI), established in 1988. With full access to the resources of the University of North Carolina at Asheville, participation in classes helps members keep mentally and physically fit. CFS draws from members’ experiences and professional expertise as well as from the UNC Asheville and surrounding faculty to offer four terms each year. Courses range from Chaucer to computers, foreign affairs to opera, yoga to history. Held mostly on the UNC Asheville campus, courses are non-credit, with no tests or grades, open to all interested adults. Members collaborate with staff to teach, learn, design curricula and arrange special events.

Our course will explore the uniqueness of the southern Appalachians Mountains, the oldest and most bio-diverse mountains in the world. Each week, a WNCA instructor will present on his/her area of expertise in the classroom and then lead a related field trip the following Saturday. The field trips will be within a 30-minute drive of Asheville.

We will cover the geology, hydrology, climatology, biology and human ecology of our region.

Important Dates & Registration:

Fall term registration is held on Aug. 13.; Fall term dates are Sept. 15-Nov. 7.

Our classes will be Wednesday mornings from 9 – 11 a.m. on the following dates:

Sept. 17 and Sept. 24

Oct. 1, 8, 15, and 22

To register, please click here and scroll about halfway down the page.

Categories Events Calendar, Trips & Outings
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Do you want to take your environmental engagement to the next level and become an environmental advocate inside of government?

If so, consider applying for a seat on the Henderson County Environmental Advisory Committee, which advises the Board of Commissioners on matters of environmental quality.

The committee is expected to begin work on several new issues this fall. 

There are three open seats, and applications are being accepted now.

 Committee members are appointed by the Commissioners. The committee meets quarterly on the first Thursday at 3 p.m. in the conference room at 100 N. King St.

For more information, click here or contact Henderson County environmental programs coordinator Rachel Hodge at (828) 694-6524 or rhodge@hendersoncountync.org.

 To access the online application, go here.

Categories Stay Informed
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After requests from individuals, organizations and businesses in Western North Carolina, the Mining and Energy Commission has voted unanimously to hold a public hearing on hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) rules in this part of the state.

Public hearings on rules that will regulate fracking were already scheduled in three locations across the state: Raleigh, Sanford, and Reidsville — all more than a four-hour drive from the mountains, where the state will spend $11,725 exploring for natural gas.

WNC HEARING DETAILS:
Date: Sept. 12
Time: 5-9 p.m.
Location: Western Carolina University’s Bardo Fine & Performing Arts Center, 199 Centennial Drive, Cullowhee

The concern about fracking in the mountains was galvanized by the passage this summer of Senate Bill 786, which lifted the moratorium on issuing state permits for hydraulic fracturing for gas, possibly as soon as next spring.

Fracking is a process using high-pressure injection of water, sand and chemicals to release natural gas trapped in underground shale formations.

WNCA and our environmental partners are concerned about risks of fracking, including  the potential contamination of ground water, risks to air quality, the potential migration of gases and hydraulic fracturing chemicals to the surface, the potential mishandling of waste, and the health effects of these

The MEC is expected to finalize the oil and gas rules before the end of 2014, with possible issuance of permits by spring of 2015.

The comment deadline is Sept 30.

Send comments by email to: oil&gas@ncdenr.gov

Or by mail to:

Mining & Energy Commission
ATTN: Oil and Gas Program
1612 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1612

Look for more information from us as the hearing date approaches.

  • Click here for updates and tips from Frack Free NC.
  • Click here for updates from the policy blog of the N.C. Conservation Network.

[Charlotte Sierra Club]

[Charlotte Sierra Club]

Some 1,600 expected to speak at hearings across the country

ASHEVILLE—On June 2, President Obama and the EPA announced the first-ever carbon pollution limits on all existing power plants. It’s the most important climate action of his presidency, because power plants are America’s single largest source of extreme-weather intensifying, public-health threatening carbon pollution.

The EPA has scheduled four public hearings across the country—in Pittsburgh, Denver, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta—to give people the opportunity to give oral testimony on the new carbon standards.

On July 29, concerned citizens from Western North Carolina will travel to Atlanta to give formal comments supporting the EPA’s proposed carbon pollution limits at the hearing in the Sam Nunn Atlanta Federal Center.

A busload of area activists will leave Asheville at 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday from Earth Fare in the Westgate Shopping Center. A press conference, rally and a march will be held in Atlanta outside the hearings. The bus will return to Asheville by midnight.

 “We need to tell the EPA that limiting carbon from power plants is the fastest way to tackle climate disruption,” said Anna Jane Joyner, campaign coordinator with Western North Carolina Alliance. “The coal-fired power plant in Asheville is the largest single contributor to climate disruption in our mountains, releasing carbon dioxide into the air every year equivalent to 500,000 cars on the road. This is not just an environmental problem, it’s a public health issue and it’s an economic issue.”

The EPA says it anticipates hearing oral comments from about 1,600 people.

Anyone interested in getting a seat on the bus from Asheville to Atlanta should go to:

http://www.eventbrite.com/e/bus-to-the-epa-carbon-protections-hearing-tickets-12239930963. 

The cost is $10, plus a small processing fee.

People also can comment on the EPA’s proposal online or by email, fax or letter. EPA says it considers all comments equally, no matter how they are submitted.

The comment period on the proposed carbon pollution limits rule is open until Oct. 16.

Complete information on the various ways to comment can be found at:

http://www2.epa.gov/carbon-pollution-standards/how-comment-clean-power-plan-proposed-rule

 

junebug&boat

The French Broad Riverkeeper’s best friend, June Bug, keeps watch on the water.

WNCA is looking for a volunteer with graphic design experience to help create a State of the River Report for Henderson County.

You’ll work directly with French Broad Riverkeeper to distill data from current reports into a simple, attractive and easy to understand information graphic for the general public to consume.

Examples of previous reports will be provided.

If you’re interested, please email Hartwell@WNCA.org with the subject line: State of the River Report.

 

nokxlpicWNCA is pleased to announce its newest program, the Creation Care Alliance of Western North Carolina (CCAWNC), focused on faith-inspired environmental advocacy.

CCAWNC is a network of people of faith and congregations who work to bring practical and hopeful solutions to their congregations and to broader secular communities by engaging hearts and minds through education, service and advocacy.

“We are so happy that the Creation Care Alliance has chosen to be part of WNCA,” said Julie Mayfield, co-director of Western North Carolina Alliance. “We have worked closely with them for more than two years and have effectively supported each other’s efforts. CCA brings a vital and unique voice to environmental advocacy and education, and we help inform and focus their voice to be as strategic as possible.”

CCAWNC began in April 2012 as “WNC Green Congregations,” which was supported from the start by staff and resources at WNCA.

The group identified “food and faith” and “just energy/climate change” as its primary focus areas and has, among many initiatives, hosted two “Care of Creation” Earth Day vigils; delivered a letter with 73 local clergy signatories to Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good calling on the company to retire the Asheville coal plant from a moral and spiritual perspective; and hosted a “Climate and Faith Forum” last month to train and equip 100 clergy and lay leaders with the practical skills and the spiritual, scientific, and policy knowledge needed to become climate change advocates and leaders.

Creation Care Alliance is seeking supporters to invest in its work so a director can be hired to take its efforts to a new, and even more effective, level. The goal is to raise $29,500 by the end of August.

CCA has several events planned over the next year, such as hosting additional clergy gatherings and public educational events and panels, an inaugural “creation care” outing and service project, a local foods potluck with an educational component, a second Climate and Faith Forum and a third annual Care of Creation Earth Day Vigil.

Get involved with CCA at www.creationcarealliance.org or by contacting WNCA Campaign Coordinator Anna Jane Joyner at (828) 258-8737, ext. 210.