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More On "Clean" Coal

Our own Chandra Taylor (Conservation Council of NC) in the news--
updated 8:26 a.m. EST, Wed December 24, 2008

Tennessee sludge spill runs over homes, water
By Samira J. Simone CNN

(CNN) -- A wall holding back 80 acres of sludge from a coal plant in central Tennessee broke this week, spilling more than 500 million gallons of waste into the surrounding area.

Environmental Protection Agency officials are on the scene and expect the cleanup to to take four to six weeks.

The sludge, a byproduct of ash from coal combustion, was contained at a retention site at the Tennessee Valley Authority's power plant in Kingston, about 40 miles east of Knoxville, agency officials said.

The retention wall breached early Monday, sending the sludge downhill and damaging 15 homes. All the residents were evacuated, and three homes were deemed uninhabitable, a TVA spokesman told CNN.

The plant sits on a tributary of the Tennessee River called the Clinch River.

"We deeply regret that a retention wall for ash containment at our Kingston Fossil Plant failed, resulting in an ash slide and damage to nearby homes," TVA said in a statement released Tuesday.

TVA spokesman Gil Francis told CNN that up to 400 acres of land had been coated by the sludge, a bigger area than the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill.

Video footage showed sludge as high as 6 feet, burying porches and garage doors. The slide also downed nearby power lines, though the TVA said power had been restored to the area.

Francis said Environmental Protection Agency officials were on the scene and estimated the cleanup could take four to six weeks.

Some of the goop spilled into the tributary, but preliminary water quality tests show that the drinking water at a nearby treatment plant meets standards.

"I don't want to drink it. It doesn't look healthy to me," Jody Miles, who fishes in the Clinch River, told CNN affiliate WBIR. "Do you reckon they can bring all this life back that's going to die from all this mess?"

Still, there is the potential for more sludge to enter the water supply through waste runoff.

"We're taking steps to stabilize runoff from this incident," Francis said.

Although video from the scene shows dead fish on the banks of the tributary, he said that "in terms of toxicity, until an analysis comes in, you can't call it toxic."

One environmental attorney called that statement "irresponsible." The ash that gives sludge its thick, pudding-like consistency in this case is known as fly ash, which results from the combustion of coal.

Fly ash contains concentrated amounts of mercury, arsenic and benzine, said Chandra Taylor, staff attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center.

"These things are naturally occurring, but they concentrate in the burning process and the residual is more toxic than it starts," she told CNN.

Appalachian environmentalists compared the mess with another spill eight years ago in eastern Kentucky, where the bottom of a coal sludge impoundment owned by Massey Energy broke into an abandoned underground mine, oozing more than 300 million gallons of coal waste into tributaries.

The water supply for more than 25,000 residents was contaminated, and aquatic life in the area perished. It took months to clean up the spill.

"If the estimates are correct, this spill is one and a half times bigger," said Dave Cooper, an environmental advocate with the Mountaintop Removal Road Show, a traveling program that explains the effect of an extreme form of mining.

While the full scope of the TVA spill is being determined, coal critics are already concerned about its long-term effects.

Cleaning up the mess, which could fill nearly 800 Olympic-size swimming pools, could take months or years, Taylor said.

"We're very concerned about how long it's going to take" to clean the spill, she told CNN.

Cooper agreed, saying, "It's 4, 5 feet deep. How are you going to scoop it up? Where are you going to put it?"

Concerts Update, Aberdeen, Jan. 3


End-Of-Year Personal Message from Maureen

On this last day of 2008 I want to thank you for your continued friendship and support and to tell you some of the aspects of my last year of public work. Yes, I’m retired and eager to attend to my home and urban farm—I hope—my only base of operations for the next thirty years!

Retired, I’m better able to attend to my duties with The Conservation Council of North Carolina, Sustainable Sandhills, and Save Our Sandhills, and I’ve recently joined the board of The Moore County Historical Association, where I’ll focus upon sustainable, heritage gardens at The Shaw House here in Southern Pines. Once I’ve gotten this urban farm up and running and have more time, I’ll join the volunteer gardeners at The Weymouth Center, where I’ve enjoyed being writer-in-residence off and on for the past twenty years. Who knows? Poetry skills may resurface once the jargon/babel of educationese subsides. . .

I’ve had a 12’x12’ Carolina room/greenhouse built on the deck, and my good friend Lyuba is designing a workable plan in the gardens. A language teacher from Russia, she is smart, strong as a horse, and so opinionated that she convinces me to clear mountains of useless furniture, books and files OUT of my house. The assault continues, she liking nothing so much as extracting order from chaos. Her daughter needed a project for high school graduation and has adopted my Farm Up the Street, will continue to work with her mom on my environs ‘til March, then turn in her portfolio. Marvelous to have two hard-working women in my gardens!

Son Gray completes Alexander Technique studies in June, when his girlfriend, Jessica Burns, also finishes her degree in Environmental Science at East Illinois U. They will return from Urbana to North Carolina to see what’s next. Most interested right now in soil rejuvenation using mycelia and compost, they will set up mushroom experiments in my backyard using cultures from Fungi Perfecti. See Mycelium Running by Paul Stamets.

Daughter Carley is married and living with husband Steve Lucci in Durham, NC, where she works and attends The Whole You Institute from which she’ll graduate in the spring. She has great hands, has worked on me with reiki, Swedish massage, aromatherapies and spinal alignments. See www.rwnaturalhealing.com for her product line. Her studies include nutrition, and, while perusing her books, I read Alkalize or Die by Baroody. I’ve ordered a copy and have started its dietary suggestions.

With nine or ten extra hours in a work day, I’m excited as a child in a candy shop. This town and this farm are all I need to stay busy and useful. I’ll continue vending at the Moore County Farmers Market, April-September, also leaving plants on consignment at the local seed/feed, where my worm tea—not for drinking, rather, a fertilizer--is a big seller. I have a bee hive for pollination, three Guinea hens wandering and keeping fleas, ticks, and such off the property, my cats and strays to keep rabbits and voles contained, ten laying hens—gorgeous Black Australorps—who give me about six eggs a day, various fruit trees, and long beds for vegetables and cut flowers. Drip lines and rain barrels supplement water for so many plantings and heavy composting keeps soils in place and full of nutrient, everything organic.

So! Having a good time here in Southern Pines, NC, with many progressive, like-minded friends to keep me focused. Maybe you noticed that NC turned Blue in the presidential elections, almost as exciting as having Obama elected. Expecting big changes! But we know that we must BE the changes we wish to see.

Vegetable Oil as Airline Fuel


GM Bt Corn vs. Honey Bees

Bee Learning Behavior Affected by Eating Toxin from GE Corn
By Ken Roseboro, ed.
The Organic and Non-GMO Report, December 2008

A recent study found that honey bees fed on the active form of purified Cry1Ab protein, the genetically modified protein found in GM Bt corn, can be affected in the learning responses necessary to associate nectar sources with odorants.

The scientists wanted to determine if GM Bt is one of the causes for colony collapse disorder, a mysterious affliction that is killing honeybees worldwide.

In this study bees consuming artificial nectar containing 5000ppb of Cry1Ab continued to respond positively to a learned odor even in the absence of a food reward, while normal bee behavior is to become discouraged and seek more abundant food sources.

This learning response is important in bee foraging behavior and it has attracted the attention of CCD researchers since it is known to be inhibited by the insecticide imidacloprid.

The new finding is particularly interesting since it lends weight to a previous suggestion that Bt toxins may have other, non-lethal effects which become apparent only when the normal (i.e. lethal) effect is absent. If there were to be multiple modes of Bt action then many more non-target organisms would likely be at risk from GM Bt corn. Bt Researcher Angelika Hilbeck says that more research is needed that looks at the impacts of both the Bt toxin and imidaclopid on bee behavior.
From Bee Culture, The Magazine Of American Beekeeping


Recycle, Trade for Credit


From BBC

Artistic clues to coastal change *How 200-year-old paintings can help modern engineers deal with coastal erosion, a study shows.

Smiles and scowls 'in our genes' *The facial expressions we make to show or hide our emotions are hardwired into our brains, a study concludes.

'Huge year for natural disasters' *Losses from natural disasters rose by 50% in 2008, underlining need for action on climate change, re-insurers Munich Re say.


Climate Hangs on Coal

Climate outcome 'hangs on coal' *If the growth in CO2 emissions is to be constrained, the world cannot afford a coal renaissance, a major scientific meeting is told.


Most Important Number on Earth




Sustainable Ag at USDA, Please!

The Obama Administration will be appointing a lot of positions at the US Dept. of Agriculture, and this creates a great opportunity for the incoming President to make good on his pledge of change. Putting people who care about sustainable ag at the top in USDA would be a welcome change indeed.

The website below provides information on some strong candidates for key USDA posts, and has a sample letter for use in submitting your suggestions to both the Obama transition team and the NC and SC congressional delegations. Please review these candidates and considering weighing in on this highly important subject.


The site has a link for submitting your letter to the Obama transition team. Contact info and/or links for Carolina Senators and Congresspeople is below.

You will find several past CFSA Sustainable Agriculture Conference keynote speakers on the list. In addition, we are aware that Jim Riddle, a frequent SAC speaker and friend to family-scale organic farmers, is a candidate for an appointed position with the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, which oversees the National Organic Program.

Please take time to help our community influence these critical personnel decisions.


PS: Although Michael Pollan’s name has been floated for the position of Secretary of Agriculture, he has said publicly that he would not accept the appointment.

Rep. Bob Etheridge (NC, 2d Dist) Rep. Mike McIntyre (NC, 7th Dist)

Phone: 202-225-4531 Phone: 202-225-2731

Fax: 202-225-5662 Fax: 202-225-5773

Ag Aide: Benjamin Bell Ag Aide: Kim

Sen. Lindsey Graham (SC)
Phone: 202-224-5972
Fax: 202-224-3808
Ag Aide: Laura Bauld

For contact info for other Members of the NC and SC Congressional Delegations, visit:

North Carolina: Senate Members
Kay Hagan, D- North Carolina, http://www.kayhagan.com/pages/contact
Burr, Richard R- North Carolina

Butterfield, G.K., D-North Carolina, 1st
Jones, Walter B., R-North Carolina, 3rd
Price, David, D-North Carolina, 4th
Foxx, Virginia, R-North Carolina, 5th
Coble, Howard, R-North Carolina, 6th
Myrick, Sue, R-North Carolina, 9th
McHenry, Patrick T., R-North Carolina, 10th
Shuler, Heath, D-North Carolina, 11th
Watt, Mel, D-North Carolina, 12th
Miller, Brad, D-North Carolina, 13th
Larry Kissell, D-North Carolina, 8th, http://www.larrykissell.com/

South Carolina: Senate Members
DeMint Jim R- South Carolina

Brown, Henry, R-South Carolina, 1st
Wilson, Joe, R-South Carolina, 2nd
Barrett, J.Gresham, R-South Carolina, 3rd
Inglis, Bob, R-South Carolina, 4th
Spratt, John, D-South Carolina, 5th
Clyburn, James E., D-South Carolina, 6th

Roland McReynolds, Esq
CFSA Executive Director
PO Box 448
Pittsboro, NC 27312
Ph: 919-542-2402
Fax: 919-542-7401


Job Opening with Conservation Council of NC


The Conservation Council of North Carolina (CCNC) seeks an experienced organizer to serve as the full-time Project Coordinator for their joint partnership with the League of Conservation Voters Education Fund Global Warming Project.

In 2007, LCVEF, in partnership with state partners, launched a major campaign to elevate global warming in the 2008 presidential primaries. The Heat Is On campaign (www.heatison.org) was active in the early-voting states for more than a year. In 2008-2009, LCVEF & CCNC plan to work to make global warming a top priority for citizens, and particularly for North Carolina’s congressional delegation.

The Project Coordinator will oversee the day-to-day planning and implementation of our program.

The Project Coordinator will work closely with CCNC’s staff and coalition partners to coordinate state-level activities, conduct outreach to opinion leaders, generate earned media, and engage voters and the congressional delegation about the urgency and importance of global warming.

• Work with CCNC staff and LCVEF staff to develop and implement a year-long plan to elevate global warming as a top-tier priority in North Carolina
• Work with coalition partners to coordinate outreach and organizing efforts
• Meet with opinion leaders (reporters, editorial boards, state elected officials, donors, etc.) to engage them on the threats and opportunities associated with climate change
• Conduct outreach to non-traditional allies concerned about global warming

The ideal candidates will have a college degree and several years experience in organizing and advocacy. Skills should include:
• Strong communication skills including public speaking and advocacy writing
• Strong networking skills
• Ability to work independently in a fast-paced campaign environment
• Familiarity with the issue of global warming an asset
• Strong leadership skills to build and maintain a team
• Basic computer skills

The Project Coordinator is a full-time position starting January and running through 2009. The position will be based in Raleigh, NC.

Interested Applicants: Please submit a letter of interest and resume to:
ccnc@conservationcouncilnc.org with the subject heading: NC Project Coordinator

Deadline: Applications will be accepted through December 12th, 2008


Conservation Council of North Carolina is an equal opportunity employer