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Environmental and public health groups announced their intent to sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in federal court to force the release of long awaited public health safeguards against toxic coal ash. The EPA has delayed the first-ever federal protections for coal ash for nearly two years despite more evidence of leaking ponds, poisoned groundwater supplies and threats to public health.

Earthjustice, on behalf of Western North Carolina Alliance, French Broad Riverkeeper Appalachian Voices (NC), Chesapeake Climate Action Network (MD), Environmental Integrity Project, (NC), Kentuckians For The Commonwealth (KY), Montana Environmental Information center (MT), Physicians for Social Responsibility, Prairie Rivers Network (IL), Sierra Club and Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (TN), sent the EPA a notice of intent to sue the agency under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).


A light dusting of snow covered the area in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

The snow, combined with frigid temperatures,
created an icy winter wonderland along the Cullasaja River between Franklin and Highlands.

Photo by Erin Morgan

Biologists recently confirmed the presence of a pair of whooping cranes outside Hayesville, North Carolina, marking the first time the birds have been documented wintering in Western North Carolina.

Whooping cranes are one of the rarest species in the world, with a current estimated global population between 525-550 individuals, which is divided into four main groups. All wild whooping cranes are part of a western population that migrates between Canada and coastal Texas and now numbers approximately 300.


Seven billion dollars. That’s the figure that local food sales are predicted to reach nationally in 2012 according to a report released last month by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. ASAP estimates that Western North Carolina consumers alone purchased $62 million of local food in 2010, a fourfold increase since the Asheville-based nonprofit’s Appalachian Grown™ certification and branding program began in 2007. The organization’s recent consumer survey explains the increase: understanding that local food benefits local communities.

“We are way ahead of the rest of the country when it comes to supporting local farms,” says Charlie Jackson, ASAP’s executive director. ASAP’s survey, conducted this spring in the greater-Asheville area (Buncombe, Madison, and Henderson counties) and the state’s six westernmost counties found that a majority (55%) of respondents reported spending over onetenth of their food budget on locally grown products. More than 80% of respondents say they choose local food because the purchases help support local farms and contribute to the local economy.


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