Conservation Issues

MountainTrue Calls for Duke Energy to Justify WNC “Modernization” Plan

Duke Energy has rolled out a so-called “Modernization” Plan that doubles down on fossil fuels and threatens to disrupt hundreds of property owners, sensitive habitats, and the visual beauty of the southern Western North Carolina mountains. Duke claims that to keep the lights on in WNC, we need both a bigger fossil-fueled power plant and new high-voltage transmission lines at a price around a billion dollars. It seems to us that instead of choosing the most economically and environmentally viable solution, Duke is overbuilding all their infrastructure, and we call on the utility to justify the need for this plan over alternatives.

Duke’s plan will impact WNC for years to come, and Duke has not sufficiently justified its requests with data or indicated that it considered other alternatives that would reduce impacts to people and the environment and reduce WNC’s reliance on fossil fuels. Duke has made broad statements of need, but so far has not released any detailed analysis demonstrating the need for both of these large, expensive projects.

Notably, Duke has failed to show why such a large investment in fossil fuels is the best choice for our region rather than first unlocking the full potential of energy efficiency and renewable energy to reduce and meet growing electricity demand. Energy efficiency is already the lowest cost solution to reduce demand and the levelized cost of utility scale solar photovoltaics and other renewable energy technologies are rapidly approaching that of combined cycle gas without the negative health and environmental consequences. Duke has also failed to provide a lifecycle cost comparison for upgrading existing transmission lines or utilizing underground lines, which may cost less in the long-run when maintenance is considered.

Similarly, Duke’s answers to questions about the relationship between the size of the new gas plant and the need for additional transmission have not been on point and only add to the public confusion. Likewise, Duke should address whether the proposed lines impact the ability to import cleaner renewable energy from other parts of the state and country into WNC. Duke is guaranteed a rate of return on all capital investments, and has a profit incentive to build both of these large projects. All of these factors should be examined together, again, to ensure Duke is proposing the least impactful project both in terms of the environment and rates.

Today we call on Duke Energy to provide a comprehensive, detailed analysis justifying these investments and weighing all the options available, including additional investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy, in order to prove that the current WNC “Modernization” Plan is the best for our environment and communities and makes the most economic sense for ratepayers.

In the absence of this analysis, and by locking WNC into a fossil fuel future with these oversized projects, this plan really appears to be a backward-looking “Fossilization” plan rather than a true “Modernization” plan.

Petition to Stop Killing Bees – The petition to Ace & True Value Hardware reads: 
”Bees and other critical pollinators are dying at an alarming rate due to neonicotinoid pesticides, which are sold in your stores. Stop selling bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides immediately.”

Honeybees, critical pollinators for many of the world’s food crops, are dying at such an alarming rate that nearly 1/3 of our food supply is in danger. And the science clear: Neonicotinoid pesticides are the leading contributor behind bee colony collapse.1

Yet despite mounting evidence, some major retailers — including Ace Hardware and True Value Hardware stores — continue to sell bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides.

Big box chains like Lowe’s have started phasing out the sale of these dangerous pollinator-killing chemicals. We must pressure Ace and True Value to follow Lowe’s example and end the sale of neonic-containing pesticides before it’s too late.

Sign the petition – click here


Our Forests in Danger –   Personal Comments needed throughout 2015  (See  Forest Service addresses below)

Revising the Land Management Plan    Nantahala-Pisgah National Forests   Under the current proposed plan, 70% of the forest will be open to logging (“suitable for timber.”)  Stress that you support preservation and conservation.

Start by explaining your love and use of the forest.  Be specific.

Consider the following points:  (Take a few and personalize them)                        

• Place the Wilderness Society Mountain Treasures and the NC Heritage Program management areas in “unsuitable for timber production and road building”

• Place old growth forests and old-growth forest designations from the last Forest Plan in management areas “unsuitable for timber production and road building”

• Prevent fragmentation of important core forests

• With budget cuts, US Forest Service will not be able to adequately supervise work done by subcontracting logging of the forests (ie,. clear cutting may be the unintended result)  

• Stress the importance of water protection: with logging, mountain streams will be damaged

• Note that well over 2/3 of forestry jobs are for tourism, both for out of state visitors & in-state visitors, not for logging or hunting

The following areas are in the “suitable for timber” management areas.  Chose areas/ trails that you love and ask that they be protected:

Art Loeb trail (south of BRP), Cat Gap, Farlow Gap in the Fish Hatchery area, Black Mountain, and the Black Mountain areas of Lost Cove Ridge ( Black Mt Campgrond to Green Knob) and Colbert Ridge (Carolina Hemlocks campground, Celo) Couthouse creek & falls, Overmountain Victory Trail (west of Linville Gorge),  Big Ivy (Coleman Boundary), Unaka Mountain, John Rock,  Devil’s Courthouse Creek, Bluff Mt near Max Patch 

The following areas should be recommended for Wilderness:

  (Please add comments as to the suitability of the area for wilderness.)

Black Mountains:  old growth forest, virgin spruce-fir forest, next to Mt. Mitchell, UNESCO biosphere reserve

Craggy Mountains (Big Ivy): old growth & virgin forest, Nat. Heritage Areas, Walker Cove Natural Area

Harper’s Creek: congressionally designated wilderness study area

Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Extensions: old growth forest next to established wilderness; connection bet. Nat. Parks

Linville Gorge Extensions: old growth forest next to Linville Gorge wilderness area

Lost Cove: congressionally designated wilderness study area

Mackey Mt: largest unbroken tract of old-growth forest in Pisgah National Forest

Middle Prong Extension: watershed & wildlife habitat sanctuary, migratory corridor, including for cerulean warbler

Overflow Creek (Blue Valley): congressionally designated wilderness study area, old growth forest

Shining Rock Extensions: Mt Treasure Area, Inventoried Roadless Area; includes Graveyard Fields, Art Loeb trail etc

Snowbird: most is congressionally designated wilderness study area

Southern Nantahala Extensions: old growth forest, rare high elevation mt. bog, animal corridor, diverse plants

Tusquitee Bald: old growth forest, Inventoried Roadless Area; Fire’s Creek’s watershed; animal sanctuary

Unicoi Mountains: old growth forest, special biological area; Inventoried Roadless Area; cultural/historic significance

 Information on forest plan revision is available online at home page with links on right of Nantahala-Pisgah National Plan Revision

Email comments/ submit to:

Postal mail comments to:  US Forest Service, 160 Zillicoa St, Suite A, Asheville, NC 28801

The USFS has set up for an interactive map to make comments on proposals for wilderness areas.