President and General Manager
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Subject: Continuing news media failure in coverage of Duke Energy, fracked gas and accelerating climate urgency
Dear Ms. Walker,
Thank you for replying to a number of listeners who contacted you about your March 25 story on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. I write to respond to your message and to comment on both the ACP piece and the much broader failure of the state and national news media to scrutinize “natural” gas and power industry actions and propaganda, and the connection to climate urgency.
Let me first emphasize that I admire WUNC’s news professionals, including The State of Things staff, and have enjoyed a collegial and constructive relationship with many of them for more than two decades. In recent years I have many times commended them privately and publicly for doing some excellent work on climate change and sea level rise.
In short, my primary concern is that there is a compelling combination of news stories that WUNC journalists – along with dozens of other fine reporters in North Carolina and at the national level – are not being allowed to tell, despite the eagerness of many to do so:
- the fact that natural gas isn’t clean and has become a key force behind the increasingly urgent climate crisis;
- the huge expansion of the burning of gas by Duke Energy and other utilities that are doing the minimum in renewables and even stifling their growth;
- the scientific developments reflecting the startling urgency of climate change, which is being badly understated to the public;
- the availability of cheaper and superior renewable energy and storage technologies; and
- the dissemination of industry talking points about gas being clean and the “limits” of renewable alternatives, repeated over and over, often with no counter position offered.
All this boils down to some basic concepts: The actions of Duke Energy executives are aggressively making the climate crisis worse – not better; time is quickly running out for humanity to avert runaway climate and social chaos; and, as one of the world’s largest energy corporations, Duke Energy could make a positive difference if it were held accountable for its actions and challenged to reverse course.
The work of leading scientists indicates that the odds are not at all good that humanity will turn around the climate crisis in time to avoid its worst impacts, which is doubly tragic since the technologies and economics to change course are already in place. Implementation of real solutions is being blocked by corporate control of decisions and information.