Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Meck's State of the Environment report online

Mecklenburg County staff have updated their biennial environmental report with a shorter, color-coded version that's now online.

Environmental changes, good or bad, typically unfold slowly over a period of years. That's what makes these reports, updated every two years, interesting. They report trends back to 1987.

This year's edition uses a matrix of green-yellow-red and directional arrows to summarize trends in air, land, waste and water quality. Details, with relevant links, are inside the body of the report, which will be updated as new data comes in.

Here's ozone air pollution: Improving but still often unhealthy.

Nature preserves: Lagging behind the county's land acquisition goals.


Streams: Too often contaminated by runoff and bacteria.

Lakes: Generally clean and holding their own.

It's worth a read by anyone interested in the air we breathe, the water we rely on and the land under us.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Poll finds support for renewable energy

North Carolina residents overwhelmingly support renewable energy, including legislation that would let independent power generators sell directly to customers, according to a poll out today.

The N.C. Sustainable Energy Association, which advocates for wind, solar and other renewable fuels, commissioned the poll of more than 700 residents last month by public opinion firm Fallon Research.

The poll found strongest support for solar energy, at 89 percent, natural gas at 84 percent, and offshore wind energy at 76 percent (with 15 percent opposed). Support for nuclear power came in at 57 percent and for coal-fired electricity at 56 percent, with 32 percent opposed to both.

On other questions, residents gave their firmest support -- 87 percent -- to legislation allowing non-utility energy companies to sell directly to customers. North Carolina law now allows only the utilities that serve the state, chiefly Duke Energy and Progress Energy, to sell power.

North Carolina legislators, under a bill sponsored by Rep. Ruth Samuelson, R-Mecklenburg, are studying whether to allow so-called third-party sales. Twenty states allow such sales, which the association says could open up new markets for solar-energy companies.

Eighty-five percent of the people polled said consumers should have more options for buying electricity.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Sustainability award winners are announced

The nonprofit Sustain Charlotte announced 12 winners of its first annual community sustainability awards at a Saturday night event at UNC Charlotte's new uptown building.

The awards recognize local leaders for helping advance the "Charlotte 2030" sustainability plan Sustain Charlotte launched in 2010 with the support of Mayor Anthony Foxx, then-county commissioners' Chair Jennifer Roberts, business and nonprofit officials.

Recently-elected city council members John Autry and Beth Pickering were among more than 200 people who attended the event. Charlotte City Council last week agreed to develop a sustainability plan for the city.

Kacy Cook, a land conservation biologist with the N.C. Wildlife Commission, was the featured speaker. Foxx and other city officials appeared in a video on sustainability's importance.

The winners by category: air quality, June Blotnick, Clean Air Carolina; buildings and homes, Nicole Storey, city of Charlotte; sustainable economy, Amanda Breeden, Michael Scott Mater Foundation; outstanding educator, Helene Hilger, UNCC; energy, Brian Kasher, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools; food, Robin Emmons, Sow Much Good; parks and green space, Ann Hayes Browning, Carolina Thread Trail; social equity, Tracy Russ, Crossroads Charlotte; transportation, Martin Zimmerman, Charlotte Area Bicycle Alliance; waste reduction, Michael Talbert, Mecklenburg County; water, David Merryman, Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation; and overall outstanding leader, Dan Roselli, Packard Place / Red F.