Follow by Email

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Water, Water Everywhere, and Not a Drop to Drink : Part One

Tom Reeder, Director of the Division of Water Resources

Who is this man and why is he so angry?

Good Morning Dear Readers,

Its been a while since my last post and a lot has happened. This will be the first of several posts updating you on family activities and some actions of our distant cousins at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. For your reading and listening pleasure, I include a recent development around DENR turning down start-up funds to evaluate pre- drilling monitoring of surface waters in the shale basin.

DENR turns down grant for water monitoring in gas drilling areas

North Carolina has turned down a pair of federal grants, one of which would have helped monitor water quality in areas where drilling for natural gas is likely to take place, provoking criticism from advocates who say the cash-strapped agency needs the money.

Water Regulator Defends Return of Grants

Speaking before the state Mining and Energy Commission Friday morning, state water quality chief Tom Reeder offered a passionate, sometimes caustic, defense of his recent decision to return $580,000 in federal grants. 

Some insight on the Division of Water Resources Director can be found here: A Message from Tom Reeder

After listening to this, it seems as if "helping and serving the citizens of this state" means helping and serving permittees, not people. Not one single word about the communities that polluting facilities affect. He drops the L-word- saying that the North Carolina Legislature has a bulls-eye on the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, can you say intimidation?

The Aftermath:

I was at the Mining and Energy Commission (MEC) on Friday when Director Reeder presented his rationale for the Division of Water Resources' (DWR) refusal of the grant money. Not having had an opportunity to review the grant (and neither had MEC members!), I listened carefully. Mr. Reeder said again and again that there had been no coordination with the MEC by the grant writers, that it didn't even include groundwater, and that "studies have a shelf life."

These are my thoughts:

1. Part of DENR's reasoning for refusing the grant was the lack of the Division of Water Quality's coordination with the Mining and Energy Commission. Ummmm, MEC members had not been informed or consulted by DENR when they refused the grant, nor had they been provided with a copy prior to the Friday meeting.

2. Mr. Reeder said that DWR would do a study for the MEC as they needed it for less than the $200,000+ listed in the grant proposal- and even include groundwater. And that the Division had "plenty of money." Really? Over the past 12 months, on issues BREDL is working on  DENR agencies have refused public hearings requested by affected communities, and recently held a public hearing on a major issue affecting many North Carolina backyards in Raleigh, at 3pm, on a weekday, citing "costs."

"DENR spokesman Tom Mather says department finances are limited and don’t always allow for multiple public hearings." - Groups protest proposed air toxics changes

4. Staff responsible for applying for the grant were not allowed to explain their rationale for seeking it, was EPA consulted?

5. Will this refusal have repercussions for future EPA grant funding?

6. Until the whole truth is exposed- we can only guess at the real reasons for North Carolina being the first state in the Southeast to refuse an EPA grant, ever.

Follow the breadcrumbs...or maybe the water droplets...