Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. EST
ATLANTIC COAST PIPELINE
Legislative panel turns up review of Cooper pipeline deal
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Members of a North Carolina legislative committee are turning up the review of a $58 million deal earlier this year between Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s and utilities building a three-state pipeline.
The Republican-controlled panel voted Wednesday to hire an outside investigator and demand a host of public records from Cooper’s office and the state environmental agency.
Cooper’s memorandum last January with builders of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline earmarked the funds for environmental mitigation, economic development and renewable energy projects. Republicans suspicious of the agreement’s legality say Cooper and his environmental department still haven’t answered their questions.
Cooper and the Department of Environmental Quality reject arguments that pipeline permits were dependent on the side agreement, saying they weren’t connected. A Cooper spokesman called Wednesday’s committee meeting a “bizarre kangaroo court.”
NC ZOO-POLAR BEAR
North Carolina Zoo holds contest to name adopted polar bear
ASHEBORO, N.C. (AP) – The North Carolina Zoo has adopted a wild polar bear and is asking the public to pick a name for it.
A news release on its webpage Wednesday said the zoo, through the Polar Bears International conservation program, has adopted a wild mother polar bear who lives with her two cubs in the western Hudson Bay area of Canada.
The zoo is already home to a breeding pair of polar bears.
Among the choices on the online public poll are two Inuit names, “Yuri,” which means “one who is beautiful,” and “Tapeesa,” which means “Arctic flower.” The other choices are “Carolina,” “Hope” and “Sakari,” which means “sweet.”
Voting began Wednesday on the zoo’s social media channels. The winning name will be announced on Nov. 20.
Brewery donates 840 pounds of unused peanuts to bear rescue
(Information from: The News Herald, http://www.morganton.com)
MORGANTON, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina brewery knew it had a real bear of a problem when it realized it had hundreds of pounds of old, unused peanuts with a new shipment on the way.
Catawba Brewing Company co-owner Billy Pyatt tells The News Herald his wife and brewery co-owner Jetta then looked to Appalachian Bear Rescue, a nonprofit they’d helped before.
Rescue Executive Director Dana Dodd says the roughly 840-pound donation of chopped peanuts is rare, but welcome. She says black bears mainly rely on acorns and nuts in the fall to gain enough weight for winter. She says the rescue never has enough acorns, so it supplements their diet with peanuts. The rescue says the donation is enough to “chubbify” its nine bears, which will later be released into the wild.
Foundation awards $1M grant to North Carolina coastal sites
Two North Carolina coastal communities have received $1.1 million to control shoreline erosion.
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and partners awarded the grant to the North Carolina Coastal Federation for the Living Shorelines for North Carolina Coastal Communities project for Carteret and Pamlico counties.
The money was awarded to Atlantic Harbor, a community harbor in Carteret County, and a town shoreline and harbor entrance in the Town of Oriental. That town has been impacted by recent hurricanes, including Florence and Michael this year. Federation scientist Lexia Weaver will lead both projects. Weaver said living shorelines have proven more effective for erosion control in storms than bulkheads.
The grant helps the federation work to naturally stabilize and protect the eroding shorelines by building living shorelines tailored to specific site characteristics.
SCIENCE SAYS-GENE-EDITED FOOD
Gene-edited food is coming, but will shoppers buy?
WASHINGTON (AP) – A new generation of biotech foods is getting close to the grocery aisles.
By early next year, the first foods made from gene-edited plants and animals are expected to begin selling. First up, probably salad dressings or granola bars made with soybean oil tweaked to be extra heart-healthy.
Researchers also are pursuing wheat with triple the usual fiber, mushrooms that don’t brown, dairy cows that won’t need painful de-horning and pigs immune to a dangerous virus.
It’s a different way of altering DNA than is used to make today’s GMOs. But governments are wrestling with how to regulate gene editing. And the bigger question is whether consumers will accept that difference or see the new products as GMOs in disguise.
EPA flags new fears about nonstick coatings
WASHINGTON (AP) – The Environmental Protection Agency says long-term exposure to a compound currently used in nonstick coatings appears to be dangerous even in minute amounts.
The finding was for newer, supposedly safer versions of nonstick compounds known as PFAS. Older versions are turning up in dangerous levels in drinking water supplies around the country.
Wednesday’s draft assessment covers the compound known as GenX, which is used in making Teflon.
Authorities have found GenX in water supplies serving hundreds of thousands downstream of a Chemours Co. plant outside Fayetteville, North Carolina.
State and local government officials have urged the EPA to do more to regulate PFAS. Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler says Wednesday’s findings show the agency is giving state and local partners the “tools and information they need to address PFAS.”
Program aids N Carolina veterans with cybersecurity training
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina veterans, reservists and National Guard members can now get free online training to become certified in skills sought in the job-rich cybersecurity field.
North Carolina’s entry into the CyberVetsUSA initiative was announced Wednesday by Gov. Roy Cooper’s administration and Cisco Systems at a meeting of the NCWorks Commission. Cisco, Amazon Web Services and other companies provide content for the online classes.
Military users and their spouses who enroll in the roughly three-month classes can obtain career assistance and a free voucher to obtain industry certifications. CyberVetsUSA already is helping veterans seeking employment in Maryland and Virginia.
CyberVetsUSA says there are 18,000 open information technology jobs in North Carolina.
FEDERAL UTILITY-CEO RETIREMENT
Federal utility’s CEO announces plans for retirement
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – The chief executive officer of the nation’s largest public utility has announced his plans to retire.
Bill Johnson of the Tennessee Valley Authority revealed his plans during a board meeting Wednesday in Tupelo, Mississippi.
Johnson joined the federal utility in 2013. He turns 65 in January.
TVA says it could take months while the board searches through internal or external candidates. Johnson will remain CEO while his successor is picked and trained to lead.
Johnson is the nation’s highest-paid federal employee. He was paid nearly $5 million in fiscal 2016, with a reported base salary of roughly $995,000. The board has said Johnson’s pay is still low compared to salaries of utility companies not in public service.
TVA powers nearly 10 million people in parts of seven southeastern states.