In the wake of Hurricane Dorian, the Energy Justice NC Coalition today called on North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper to end Duke Energy’s monopoly and transform the state’s electricity system to 100 percent renewable energy as soon as possible.
In official comments submitted on the North Carolina Clean Energy Plan, the coalition also urged the governor to fight climate change and ensure economic and environmental justice for all North Carolinians. Today’s comments note the damage to the Carolinas caused by Dorian, which was made more dangerous by climate change.
“After Dorian’s traumatic landfall, the people of eastern North Carolina are looking to Governor Cooper for hope,” said Bobby Jones, president of Down East Coal Ash Environmental and Social Justice Coalition. “We need hope for a clean energy future that eliminates inequities, ends money-driven political representation, and, most importantly, stops the sleepless nights caused by climate-fueled disasters.”
The North Carolina Clean Energy Plan, developed as a part of the governor’s landmark Executive Order 80, has a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 60 to 70 percent by 2030. The coalition urged the governor to adopt concrete policies that can achieve these targets and directly address environmental injustices that plague the state’s electricity sector, including fossil fuel pollution.
The groups also outlined specific opportunities for North Carolina, including an ambitious renewable energy mandate; progressive and accessible solar compensation programs like virtual net metering; investments in infrastructure for walking, biking and electric public transportation; and allowing third-party sales of solar electricity.
“North Carolina is affected by the climate crisis now,” said Karen Bearden, a 350 Triangle coordinator. “It is critical to move to a just transition to 100 percent renewable energy fast, with the urgency of the crisis we are in. To be a real climate leader, Governor Cooper must stop all new fossil-fuel projects and commit to a moratorium and urgent phase-out of the wood pellet industry.”
North Carolina is suffering the effects of climate change and environmental injustice — from devastating hurricanes to coal-ash spills, rampant air and water pollution, and millions of dollars of damage to public and private property.
North Carolinians, particularly indigenous people, communities of color and low-income communities, disproportionately suffer from the fossil-fuel pollution that Duke Energy power plants spew. Analysis from the EPA in 2014 found that people of color in North Carolina are more likely than white people to live within a mile of a facility that releases toxic pollution. Nationally, 76 percent of the 2 million Americans living within three miles of the top 12 dirtiest coal power plants are people of color.
These same communities also bear one of the highest energy burdens in the state, with the most impoverished households spending an average of 17 percent of their gross income on home energy costs in 2016.
“Dorian’s damage shows that North Carolinians are on the frontlines of the climate crisis,” said Jean Su, the Center for Biological Diversity’s energy director. “To tackle the emergency, we need to ditch fossil fuels as fast as possible. The new clean energy plan is a great start, but Duke’s stranglehold on North Carolina is stopping this crucial transition in its tracks. The governor needs to break Duke’s monopoly and help transform the state’s electric system.”
The Energy Justice NC coalition is anchored by leaders from communities harmed by Duke’s corporate portfolio of toxic coal-ash pollution, the proposed fracked-gas Atlantic Coast Pipeline, hog-waste biogas and worsening hurricanes caused in part by Duke’s ongoing burning of coal and fracked natural gas. Local groups are joined in the coalition by state and national organizations focusing on climate and environmental justice.