ACT Against Coal Ash comes to Raleigh to invite McCrory to dine with the neighbors Duke Energy has harmed
Residents from across North Carolina gathered this morning in Raleigh, across from the Governor’s Mansion, to highlight the failure of Governor McCrory and his administration to act with transparency regarding coal ash and invite McCrory to dinner at their homes near Duke Energy’s coal ash dumps.
The residents are members of ACT Against Coal Ash, a statewide alliance of citizens impacted by coal ash. Last week, ACT Against Coal Ash released their unifying principles which include a demand for greater transparency from elected officials and Duke Energy. On the same day their principles were released, residents were outraged to learn Governor McCrory had hosted a private dinner for Duke Energy CEO, Lynn Good, and the secretary of the Department of Environmental Quality at his house in June, just two weeks after the utility plead guilty to nine federal charges.
“This secret meeting brings up a lot of questions,” said Michael Carroway who lives next to Duke’s H.F. Lee plant in Goldsboro. “Who really called this meeting? Was the Governor working for the people he was elected to serve, or was he working for Duke Energy?”
“It’s obvious that Governor McCrory never really left Duke Energy,” agreed John Cross of Chatham Citizens Against Coal Ash Dump. “Four days after McCrory’s secret dinner with Duke and DEQ, DEQ approved the permits to begin dumping coal ash in Chatham County, next to my home!”
Debra Baker, a mother living at the edge of Duke’s G.G. Allen Power Plant explained that she lost her husband to lung disease six years after moving into their home next to the plant. The doctors told her it was an environmentally caused condition, and her husband did not smoke.
“In April 2015, I received a do not drink order from the Department of Health and in September we learned that Duke had been illegally operating the smoke stacks at Plant Allen for over a decade,” explained Baker. “Now, after this secret meeting in June, DEQ has changed our high priority ranking [for cleanup] to low to intermediate. Why?”
Baker, like many residents with contaminated wells across the state, has repeatedly attempted contacting Governor McCrory on this issue by phone and email, but received only an automated response from the Governor and his office.
Duke’s coal ash neighbors have also tried calling DEQ for help and answers, but report unsatisfactory responses from assistant secretary, Tom Reeder, such as “We’re working on it.” Residents did receive personal phone calls from Dr. Rudo at the Department of Health, to explain their well water test results and advise them on the safety of their water.
“As we move forward in 2016, public hearings are planned throughout the state regarding the closing of coal ash ponds,” said Caroline Armijo of the Belews Creek Residents for Coal Ash Cleanup. “We are expected to trust with good faith that these hearings will lead to important criteria on cleaning up the coal ash. But, can we trust DEQ?”
ACT Against Coal Ash believes it is shameful that McCrory and his administration have failed to respond to a single phone call or email from residents with contaminated drinking water, while simultaneously using taxpayers’ money to dine with Duke Energy executives.
“Today we are here to ask our Governor to come have dinner with us, the people. We have some things we’d like to discuss!” declared Carroway. “Oh, and by the way,” he added, “bring water, ours is contaminated.”