North Carolina Senate has asked President Bush to clean up the
Tennessee Valley Authority's coal-fired power plants, whose
smokestacks pump out much of the pollution that is choking
North Carolina's mountains.
A letter hand-delivered to Bush during his North Carolina
visit Wednesday carried signatures of all 35 Senate Democrats
and 15 Senate Republicans and a plea for action on what has
become one of the state's most serious environmental problems.
"The time to correct this problem is now and the primary
culprit is the TVA system of power plants owned and operated
by the federal government," the senators wrote.
The TVA's power plants are located in Tennessee and other
states upwind from North Carolina.
"TVA is a federally owned and operated facility and it
ought to be the model of environmental excellence," they
Instead, the senators cited graphic statistics about the
decline of air quality in the mountains. More Western North
Carolina residents reportedly die from lung-related illnesses
than those in other parts of the state, while average
visibility in parts of the region has dropped from 65 miles in
1980 to 15 miles today.
Robert Bruck, an N.C. State University scientist, estimated
that 80 percent of the air pollution in the west comes from
out of state, primarily from TVA smokestacks, the senators
The letter calls for installation of scrubbers and chemical
filters known as selective catalytic reduction on the TVA
The letter is a sign that the state plans to use its own
clean air measures to pressure surrounding states to do the
Earlier this month, bills were introduced in the Senate and
House that would impose the nation's toughest pollution
controls on 14 coal-burning plants in North Carolina.
A 'Smart Growth' challenge
With a North Raleigh mall construction site as a backdrop,
professional planners Wednesday asked the General Assembly to
push ahead with managed-growth legislation.
Census reports on the state's 21 percent population growth
underscore the need for a statewide program to encourage local
planning goals, the planners say.
"We're having an alarming rate of growth," said Richard
Hails, president of the North Carolina chapter of the American
Planning Association and a member of the Planning Department
"Planners are not against growth," he said. "We're also
very aware that there are better ways and worse ways to be
Over the past few months, the association has made 50
presentations on managed growth in 30 counties as part of its
"Smart Growth Challenge."
Rite of initiation
The House initiated a new member, Mark Crawford, a
Republican from Black Mountain, with a session Wednesday that
ran more than five hours.
Crawford, a real estate agent who ran for a seat in 1996
and 1998, was appointed to replace Asheville Republican Lanier
Cansler, who left the General Assembly to join the Department
of Health and Human Services.
As the debate on an alcohol bill stretched past 7 p.m.,
Crawford removed his eyeglasses and rubbed the bridge of his
As the session adjourned, a sergeant-at-arms walked up to
Crawford and shook his hand.
"All days aren't like today," he said.