Climate Action Campaign

Logo Designed by Jan Burger

Thr Haw River Assembly has ramped up our efforts to respond to the climate crisis. We are researching local watershed impacts, and partnering with other organizations in the state on current climate impact issues, and urgent policy and regulatory changes. We support an economic recovery that puts climate solutions and climate justice at the forefront. We invite you to join us in this effort through our How To Take Action section. 

Letters to our Legislators

The Haw River Climate Action Committee has been working hard to advocate for climate action at all levels of government. Efforts to decrease greenhouse gases and to mitigate the impacts of climate change, can be the engine to a post Covid-19 economic recovery–launching a wide array of initiatives that will provide new jobs. Here is what we’ve asked of our legislators so far:

Taking Action

Understanding impacts can help us reduce greenhouse gases (such as carbon and methane) and better prepare us for mitigating the impacts as climate change worsens. Even with our best efforts going forward, problems exist that are already too late to alter–we are seeing the effects already. As we move forward in 2024, we ask that you focus on efforts to decrease greenhouse gases and mitigate the impacts of climate change. This will ensure more protection for communities most at risk for climate impacts.

Haw River Assembly 10 Point Policy Recommendations for the North Carolina State Legislature:

  1. Establish a Statewide Clean Energy Goal: Require the State Energy Office, in consultation with the North Carolina Utilities Commission and the Public Staff, to develop a plan that establishes a statewide goal that results in 100% of North Carolina’s electricity be generated by renewable energy sources by 2050 and that also communicates measurable reductions in energy used in North Carolina from non-sustainable sources in preceding decades.
  2. Address flooding and increased stormwater that is occurring with climate change: Stormwater design requirements must be revised to meet new rainfall intensity statistics–not historic data. Infrastructure like dams, drinking water systems and wastewater systems must be improved to withstand greater rates of rainfall and flooding. We must continue to flood-proof and rehabilitate sewer infrastructure. These measures will counteract the risks associated with inflow, infiltration and sanitary sewer overflow. This work must be prioritized before the next big storms inundate these systems and pollute our waters.
  3. Support planning and infrastructure needed to ensure adequate and safe drinking water supplies: As the water table drops due to greater usage or during drought, private and public drinking water is under threat from climate change. The recharge process of water in the ground as well as water stored in reservoirs will be impacted by warming as heavy rainfall runs off of land and as forests are increasingly replaced by pavement and buildings.
  1. Protect populations who are most vulnerable to extreme weather due to poverty and the legacy of structural racism in our state: Communities historically located in low-lying lands are in constant danger of flooding. Mobile homes are in the most danger from high winds and tornadoes. Lack of air conditioning can be fatal to the elderly and others in high heat events, especially as nights become warmer when global temperatures rise.
  2. Promote job creation through the implementation of plans and policies for renewable energy, energy efficiency, infrastructure upgrades and green technologies. Support carbon neutral industry, expertise, products, and services to make NC a leader in the country.
  3. Support programs to reduce fossil fuel use in transportation, industry, and electrical generation: Support programs that include rebates for battery electric vehicles, home and work chargers, home and industrial solar and wind generation, battery storage, and passive solarization of buildings. Support walkable, bike-able communities, and prohibit homeowner association restrictions on residential solar installations.
  4. Ban Fracking, Oil Drilling and new pipelines in NC Prohibit any agency of the State from issuing a permit for oil or gas exploration or development activities using horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing treatments. Oppose any federal permits for off-shore oil drilling and seismic testing. Deny permits for trans-state natural gas (fracked gas) pipelines.
  5. Reform state management of forest lands so that their value for climate mitigation, habitat for biodiversity and wildlife is given a high priority: Expand the present use value program to recognize conservation land by taxing it at the lowest rate, while taxing lands used for extractive timbering at a higher rate. Reinstate the Conservation Tax Credit.
  6. Fund agricultural research on adaptive crop and livestock species that can withstand greater heat, and regenerative farming practices that sequester carbon: Provide more investment in small scale agriculture.
  7. Increase land conservation to counter human impacts that reduce nature’s resiliency and biodiversity: Create and expand state parks and state natural areas, with habitat connectivity. Preserve and restore wetlands and riparian buffers as counters to aquatic species extinction.

Climate Change Projections in North Carolina
from “North Carolina Climate Risk Assessment and Resilience Plan” June 2020

How Climate Change Impacts the
Haw River Watershed

Much of the information for these summaries was derived from the two major North Carolina reports released this spring: the “North Carolina Climate Risk Assessment and Resilience Plan” from Governor Cooper’s administration and the North Carolina Climate Science Report by North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies, an inter-university project.

  • Local Climate Change Impacts on Precipitation, Storms & Flooding: Although it is thought that annual precipitation may likely increase in NC with climate change, there is not a clear predicted trend yet. However, extreme rainfall during anyone storm event has already begun, and three of the 5 biggest floods on the Haw River in the past 25 years have happened since 2018.
  • Limits on Drinking Water Supply: Drinking water resources stressed by climate change will be further impacted by a growing population in the Haw River watershed. Many municipal and industrial water supplies use surface waters, impounded in reservoirs as their primary source. Low stream flows and lake levels resulting from drought can result in poor water quality.
  • How Climate Change Impacts Wastewater Systems: Wastewater treatment is also affected by population growth as well as flooding, and aging infrastructure. Climate change will bring new challenges as more frequent extreme storms can overwhelm our wastewater treatment systems.
  • Local Climate Change Impacts on Drought: It is expected that severe drought impacts will become more frequent in the future as temperatures rise in North Carolina, including the Piedmont.
  • Extreme Weather Changes in the Piedmont: Hurricanes, winter weather and tornadoes and thunderstorms are all all going to see a difference with climate change.
  • Climate Justice: In North Carolina, structural racism resulted in many African American, as well as Hispanic and Indigenous communities, being pushed to less historically desirable lands such as floodplains or near industrial sites or highways where air pollution is high. The impacts of climate changes are piled on top of centuries of environmental, social, economic, and health burdens.
  • Increased Temperatures: Temperatures have been increasing in the Piedmont since the 1970s and have remained consistently above average since the 1990s. Warmer summer nights and warmer winters are primarily responsible for the overall annual increase.
  • Impacts of Increased Population and Population Density in the Piedmont Increases of population exacerbate many impacts of climate change, including more stress on natural resources, including water supplies. Increased urban density can lead to hotter cities. See the summary for population projections for counties in the Haw watershed.
  • Biodiversity Collapse in the Haw River Watershed: Changes are already being seen in the decline of natural ecosystems and species in the Piedmont. We must act quickly to protect and increase natural areas and habitat.
  • Climate Change, Agriculture and Forestry: Agriculture and climate change are deeply intertwined. As the population continues to increase the concern surrounding the effects of global warming on food supply and forests does too.

How To Take Action

SAVE THE TREES: Urge the Biden Administration to Enact Federal Forest Protections to save our Southern Forests! The forest products industry and it’s wood pellet production is driving massive carbon emissions, degrading forests, polluting the air and water and compromising vital ecosystem services. These impacts, like many other extractive industries, disproportionately harm under-resourced communities and communities of color. Sign the petition from Southern Environmental Law Center asking Biden to protect old growth trees on public lands

CAFO Project: Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, or factory farms, produce high levels of manure, adding to greenhouse gases. Increased floods with climate change can mean more of that manure runs off into our streams, adding to water pollution. Find out who your sustainable local farmers are on our webpage, and support them.

Chatham Park: Over 7000 acres of forested land that are helping absorb carbon will be turned into housing and commercial development on the Haw and Jordan Lake. HRA leads the call for more protection for the environment and waters as this mega development is built, and acts as a watchdog on sediment erosion violations as construction proceeds Learn more HERE and join us in protecting water and forests.

MVP Southgate: Mountain Valley Pipeline is a fracked gas pipeline proposed to extend through Rockingham and Alamance counties. After years of challenges, the state has denied the MVP Southgate 401 permit for stream crossings, stopping construction in NC. MVP is working to get approval for an extension of that pipeline, MVP Southgate, that will take it an additional 70 miles from southern Virginia into central North Carolina. If approved, the MVP Southgate project will cut through Rockingham and Alamance counties, ending at a point just south and east of Graham, below 1-85-40.

Plastics Free Campaign: Plastics are made from fossil fuels and discarded single-use plastics end up in our rivers and oceans, eventually braking down to the smallest microplastics particles. While this has an immediate effect on local wildlife, it also has a long-term effect on climate and our public health.

CLEAN ENERGY: Take part in NC WARNS actions and petitions to stop Duke Energy’s natural (fracked) gas expansion, and urge the state to support rooftop solar. Find our more HERE

Tell Disney to Commit to Greater Environmental Protections for the Asteria Storyliving Development

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