NC WARN is increasing our legal and grassroots support for Lee-Chatham citizen groups, local governments and nonprofit allies opposing the clay mine scheme, just as we are helping communities already impacted by coal ash to fight for justice amid this ongoing statewide catastrophe.
“This is a statewide problem,” Nick Wood, an organizer for NC Warn, a nonprofit energy-industry watchdog, told a group of people gathered at the volunteer fire department in Moncure on Thursday night to discuss strategy. “We need a statewide solution.”
Several environmental watchdog groups will host a forum and discussion Thursday at the New Bern-Craven County Public Library on the topic, “Coal Ash Ponds on Our Rivers.”
Every year coal-burning power plants generate not only electricity, but a staggering amount of leftover coal ash that contains heavy metals unhealthy to humans. Yet due in part to intense industry lobbying, there are no federal regulations on its disposal. It’s left to the states to oversee some of the most powerful utility companies in the country.
The 16 people who attended watched a few short films about coal-related pollution. That was followed by a discussion led by organizer Nick Wood of NC Warn, a group that advocates for climate protection through the use of clean energy, and Christine Ellis of the Winyah Rivers Foundation.
It’s the headline that has environmentalists and folks who live along the Dan River so fired up: “Duke Energy Completes Cleanup Work Along the Dan River.” In Rockingham County, they just don’t believe that, or they don’t understand it. “If you get out and go three inches deep in the sand, you’re in coal ash,” said Ben Adkins.
The NC House has just passed a “Thom Tillis-Duke Energy Burn the Public” coal ash bill. The bill leaves North Carolinians at the mercy of two regulators — DENR and the Utilities Commission — that have sorry track records of backroom dealing with Duke Energy on issues involving safety and electric rate fairness. There will be very little clean-up, but the public will likely pay billions as Duke turns coal ash failure into a profit center.
Gov. Pat McCrory, himself a long-time employee of Duke until his retirement, came up with a plan for regulation and cleanup that was underwhelming.
N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper has become the latest Duke Energy critic to urge state lawmakers to spare the public from paying billions of dollars Duke would incur if the legislature forces the power company to fix leaky coal ash lagoons.
A new poll shows that, overwhelmingly across the political spectrum, North Carolina voters say that Duke Energy shareholders – not customers – should pay to clean up all of the utility’s 33 toxic coal ash dumps, and that those whose negligence caused the disastrous Dan River ash spill deserve to be penalized.
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