Asheville’s Bent Creek is one of the most popular recreation areas in the mountains. Trail runners and mountain bikers fill the trailhead even on weekdays, along with dog walkers and hikers. But Bent Creek has a dirty secret: pollution levels there exceed the EPA’s health limits, thanks to a coal-fired power plant only a few miles away.Duke Energy’s Asheville coal plant has threatened local public health for decades. A new air modeling study by Air Resource Specialists shows that concentrations of sulfur dioxide in the air downwind of the power plant near Bent Creek, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and Pisgah National Forest are up to 3.5 times higher than what EPA has determined to be safe. Outdoor enthusiasts in these areas have been breathing dangerously unhealthy air one out of every three to four days since 2010.Even worse, active outdoor enthusiasts breathe harder and gulp even more polluted air into their lungs, making them even more vulnerable and affected by dangerous sulfur dioxide levels. Sulfur dioxide triggers asthma attacks, airway constriction, and other respiratory problems. Exposure to this pollution for even five minutes can make it hard for a person to breathe, and high levels of SO2 can send people to the emergency room.Fortunately, there’s an easy fix. Duke Energy already has the pollution control devices installed on these smokestacks to reduce their pollution levels. They just haven’t been operating them at full capacity in recent years to save costs. Duke can also burn coal with lower sulfur content.However, Duke won’t operate their pollution control equipment at full capacity or use low-sulfur coal unless they have to. Their permit is up for renewal, and the only way to force Duke to clean up its act is for the permit to require them to do so. A public hearing on April 29 at 6 p.m. at Erwin High School will be pivotal.If you can’t attend the public hearing, email the WNC Regional Air Quality Agency. Ask that Duke’s permit require low-sulfur coal and pollution control devices to operate at full capacity to meet the EPA’s sulfur dioxide limits for public health.For more details about the public hearing and to learn more about pollution in Pisgah, click here.
ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr Credit unions want to be relationship lenders, but when it comes to business members, they’re primarily product lenders—they finance one piece of a business’s credit needs: commercial real estate. CUs often struggle to provide business operations funding and some of the more complex deposit services that go with operations.$19 billion BECU, Tukwila, Washington, like most CUs that do business lending, is mostly a commercial real estate lender, but it is starting down the relationship path. More than 90 percent of BECU’s $1.3 billion business loan portfolio is CRE, says Scott Strand, CCE, SVP/member lending, business and wealth management. “We do some unsecured lines and business credit cards, but the vast majority of our loans are commercial real estate,” he concedes.That will change, but not dramatically, he predicts. “We have 50,000 business members with over $750 million in deposits, so the potential is definitely there to do more business operations lending. Small business is a powerful growth area. We’re upgrading our deposit services around business needs and doing more with treasury management, adding staff that specializes in business relationship management,” he reports. continue reading »
Published on February 12, 2019 at 12:42 pm Facebook Twitter Google+ Comments Syracuse (17-7, 8-3 Atlantic Coast) travels to North Carolina State (17-7, 5-6) on Wednesday for an 8 p.m. tip-off at PNC Arena. Syracuse looks for its ninth conference win and 11th overall win in its last 14 games, while the Wolfpack hope to snap out of a streak in which they’ve lost three of four. Here’s what our beat writers expect to happen on Wednesday night. Billy Heyen (19-5)On the road againSyracuse 70, North Carolina State 67Last Saturday, Oshae Brissett said the Orange “find joy” in leaving road venues with smiles on their faces. So far, SU is 5-1 in true road games this season, and I expect that to continue against a Wolfpack team that played well in nonconference, but has no strong ACC wins. Brissett and Tyus Battle should be the two best players on the floor Wednesday, and sometimes, that’s all it takes.Charlie DiSturco (18-6)Pack a punchSyracuse 67, North Carolina State 63AdvertisementThis is placeholder textNorth Carolina State is a really interesting team. The Wolfpack are a very strong offensive team yet haven’t been great in the ACC. They lost to Wake Forest, put up 24 points against Virginia Tech and most recently only downed Pittsburgh by one possession. With Oshae Brissett and Buddy Boeheim’s recent success, Syracuse should be able to handle NC State on the road — where the Orange have ironically been better. Frank Howard needs to become the senior floor general has can be, and I think he’ll bounce back from a rough couple of games against the Wolfpack on Wednesday. Matthew Gutierrez (16-8)Wolf wolf!Syracuse 68, North Carolina State 67NC State, which has played a tough first half of the conference slate, reminds me a lot of Syracuse. Both are good teams that have showed some promise, but neither has really shone at the level they’re capable. No road ACC game is easy, and it’ll take a close-to-complete performance for Syracuse to grab its ninth ACC win and improve to 18-7 overall. My eyes are on senior point guard Frank Howard and how he’ll respond amid his slump. Also of note: Who dictates tempo? One of the fastest teams plays one of the slowest. Tempo could decide the winner.