Archive for Sustainability
Republicans will regret merging water system, MSD, writes Steve Rasmussen in the new Mountain Xpress.
If Reps. Tim Moffitt, Chuck McGrady and the NC General Assembly succeed in expropriating Asheville’s water system, the mandated merger with MSD will lead to more urban sprawl, Rasmussen predicts, once control of water and sewer line extension is in the hands of a regional authority. The move will spawn a political arms race on a new battlefield for developers and smart growth supporters. Rasmussen writes,
Crowded, contentious public hearings will routinely overflow MSD’s meeting room. Green activists will accuse board members of rubber-stamping applications from greedy out-of-state developers; tea party activists will claim the board is conspiring with the U.N. to impose Agenda 21. Brutal political machinations will ensue, fueled by costly fundraising campaigns to elect city council members, town aldermen and county commissioners who’ll make the board appointments each side wants. In comparison, the intergovernmental bickering that tore apart our Regional Water Agency a decade ago will look like a backyard pool party.
Messrs. Moffitt and McGrady send their regrets.
For those of you paying attention to the changes in our NC state executive offices, here’s another brick in the wall:
Veteran lawmaker Rep. Mitch Gillespie – who in 2011 literally drew a bulls-eye target on his legislative office window aimed at the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources – will resign next month to become an assistant secretary of the agency.
Gillespie spearheaded a slew of environmental regulatory reforms in last year’s session, and said he felt he had good relations with environmental advocates. But Gillespie comes from the business side of the equation, having worked in surveying, civil engineering and land development.
He has been supported by the state’s energy company PACs.
Lenoir Rhyne University and New Belgium Brewing invite everyone to come participate this weekend. From their website:
A Taste of Bioneers Conference
Date: November 2, 2012 – November 3, 2012
Time: Friday 6:00pm – 9:00pm / Saturday 10:00am – 6:00pm
Location: 36 Montford Avenue, Lenoir-Rhyne University Center for Graduate Studies of Asheville
What is sustainability, and how are we making it happen here in Asheville? The Taste of Bioneers will feature streaming plenary sessions from the National Bioneers Conference as well as panels made up of local leaders in sustainability from right here in Asheville.
See the schedule, speakers, panels, and activities after the jump.
The Health, Wellness, and Education Cluster of the Asheville Buncombe Food Policy Council is inviting the whole community this Friday. Facebook event page is here. This is a must-attend for anyone who is involved in local food or who wants to learn more about area food systems. Producers, processors, distributors, educators – We’re all working together to make Asheville and Buncombe County a food secure community with a thriving economy. Come be a part of it.
Injecting millions of gallons of water, sand and toxic chemicals underground beneath the water table to fracture shale and free trapped oil and natural gas? What could possibly go wrong? Mtn. X:
A contentious bill to allow hydrolic fracturing – or “fracking” – for oil and gas exploration in the state passed the N.C. Senate on Wednesday by a 29-19 majority, and is expected to be voted on today in the House.
The bill is expected to pass in the House, and then will face Gov. Bev Perdue and the possibility of a veto. The governor, who quashed an earlier bill calling for test drilling, has subsequently announced that she believes drilling can be done safely in the state.
It’s about more than just fracking. It’s also about further limiting local governments’ ability to determine their own fates:
“Any local ordinances that would have the effect of banning the wells would be repealed by the legislation, and a newly established state Oil and Gas Board would be given the power to preempt any new ordinances that have the effect of banning the wells within a local government’s jurisdiction
From a Brownie Newman newsletter:
Asheville and Buncombe County have a history of leadership when it comes to clean energy.
It was just over ten years ago that Senator Steve Metcalf and Senator Martin Nesbitt, who was a member of the state House at the time, sponsored a bill called the NC Clean Smokestacks Act. This bill required the utility companies in North Carolina to install modern pollution controls on their coal-fired power plants which generate most of the state’s electricity and also generated a majority of the emissions that create haze, smog and ground level ozone pollution.
When local environmental groups put forward the concept of the Clean Smokestacks Act, most people didn’t give it much of a chance and few politicians were willing to consider it. Fortunately, two of Buncombe County’s state legislators championed the effort. It took more than three years to get it done, but thanks to hard work from hundreds of citizens from western North Carolina and across the state, the bill was passed, and North Carolina’s air is a lot cleaner today as a result.
I was the Director of the Western North Carolina Alliance at the time the Clean Smokestacks Act campaign was carried out, and was able to see first-hand how people working together around a common purpose could make a real and positive change.
As a member of the Asheville City Council over the past eight years, I am proud how our community has continued to be a leader for clean energy. In 2007, Asheville adopted a policy committing the City to reduce its use of fossil fuels and carbon pollution levels by 80%, which is the level that the scientific community believes is necessary to avoid the most severe and irreversible impacts of global warming on our children’s generation.
Asheville has aggressively followed through on this commitment:
I’m acquainted with Robert and Deborah Tornello and family through online connections, but had never seen this impressive video about their farm.
Thanks to Asheville Foodie for posting about this! Read the whole thing here.
Spring is just around the corner, meaning it’s time to celebrate and support local food and farms by signing up for a CSA. To help those who are interested find the right farm share for them, ASAP is hosting their second CSA Fair on Thursday, March 29. The free family-friendly event, to be held from 3-6 pm at the Grove Arcade in Asheville, is an opportunity to meet farmers, learn about their CSA programs, sample their products, and purchase a share or shares.
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. CSA farm share members pay a farmer in advance for “shares” of their season’s bounty. They then receive a steady supply of fresh foods straight from the farm every week.
I’ve been getting CSAs for years now, and I love them. The food is fresh and delicious, and you get to know that your dollars are supporting a sustainable economy.
In February, 2011 a report came out describing food hardship in places across the United States. The Asheville Metropolitan Statistical Area was listed as the 7th worst place for hunger in the nation. This year the news got worse, with the Asheville MSA listed in 3rd.
These are the facts that led to the creation of the Asheville-Buncombe Food Policy Council, which seeks to formulate policy solutions to the problems of food security. That group is working diligently, and you can expect to see a lot of proposals come forward in the near future.
Excerpts from the report after the jump:
Brownie Newman today announced his plans to run for Buncombe County Commission. Newman has served two terms as a member of Asheville City Council and has served as Mayor Pro Tem since 2009. Newman did not run for re-election to City Council in 2011. His last official day as a member of City Council is Dec. 6.
“As a member of Asheville City Council, I tried to set ambitious, achievable goals for our community. I am proud that we have established Asheville as a leader for energy independence and green jobs, promoted the growth of locally owned businesses and made it clear that we are an inclusive community that supports equal rights for all our citizens,” said Newman.
Newman cited these as some of the key accomplishments on City Council:
Established Asheville as a leader for clean, renewable energy:
- Asheville City Council committed the city to reduce its carbon emissions by 80% and to require all new municipal building to LEED Gold standards.
- Asheville replaced its old, polluting diesel buses with a new fleet including clean, quiet hybrid buses and is replacing its city street lights with LED bulbs, which will save taxpayers $650,000 a year in lower utility bills.
- Newman helped secure funding for Asheville Green Opportunities, to provide job training and mentoring for young people from low income neighborhoods so they can develop work experience in the new clean energy economy.
Supported job creation, locally owned businesses and working families:
- Asheville worked with Mountain BizWorks to create a revolving loan fund to provide capital to local citizens to start their own business.
- Asheville partnered with Buncombe County to bring Linamar to Asheville, who will create at least 400 or more good paying manufacturing jobs and put the property formerly occupied by Volvo back into productive uses.
- Asheville held the line on property tax rate while investing more than $35 million to fix our long neglected water infrastructure.
Along with other members of Council, Newman supported a domestic partnership policy to extend equal workplace rights to municipal employees. The policy assures city workers will receive the same compensation for doing their job, regardless of sexual orientation.
“During a time when state legislators are trying to change North Carolina’s Constitution to discriminate against our citizens, I am proud that our community is standing up for equality,” said Newman.
In addition to his work on City Council, Newman is also one of the partners at FLS Energy, a local solar utility company. Since Newman joined FLS Energy in 2008, the company has grown from eight employees to more than eighty. Newman serves as Vice-President and Project Finance Director. He is one of the four members on the FLS board of directors.
Newman will be running in a new two-member County Commission district that includes most of Asheville and the central part of Buncombe County. Long-time County Commissioner Bill Stanley has announced he will not seek re-election.
Holly Jones is currently a commissioner from this district who plans to run for re-election. Newman and Jones previously served together on Asheville City Council and the two plan to support one another for County Commission.
“Holly has done a great job as County Commissioner. I am proud to lend my full support to her re-election campaign and am honored to have her support.” said Newman. Holly Jones added, “I am excited that Brownie is running for County Commission. He has contributed a lot to the City Council over the past eight years and he will be an effective member of the Commission.”
The Newman campaign will hold its kick-off event in January. Details to follow.