In a case with sweeping environmental and legal ramifications, attorneys for NC WARN and The Climate Times responded yesterday to Duke Energy’s request for financial sanctions against us for attempting to appeal the fast-track regulatory approval of a $1 billion fracked gas-burning power plant.
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Today, attorneys for NC WARN and The Climate Times again urged the NC Court of Appeals to take charge of a convoluted case involving an unneeded $1 billion power plant, and to not allow state regulators to block our access to the court. Most recently in this nine-month legal fight, the NC Utilities Commission ruled that we cannot appeal its approval of Duke Energy’s Asheville plant because we didn’t post the $98 million bond the commissioners said we must file in order to go to court.
An attempt by Duke Energy and state regulators to race through a rubber-stamp approval of an unneeded, climate-busting, fracking gas-fired power plant has become one of the most convoluted legal cases in North Carolina history, with no end in sight.
In 2015, Duke Energy’s state-sanctioned monopoly in North Carolina faced a pair of very different challenges from two vastly different communities. In western North Carolina, thousands of people – mostly White, middle-class, with little organizing experience–turned out in droves to attack Duke Energy’s plans for their beloved mountains. Two hundred miles away in Greensboro, a Piedmont church – serving a mostly Black, low-income community with a history of activism and advocacy stretching back decades – simply put solar panels on its roof.
An opponent of the Duke Energy plan to convert its coal-fired plant in Asheville to natural gas says the plan would be a disaster in the fight against climate change. Meanwhile, Duke Energy says natural gas would be a cleaner source of power for western North Carolina. Two 20-minute interviews.
The N.C. Utilities Commission said two advocacy groups missed a filing deadline and therefore blew their chance to appeal a state permit issued to Duke Energy to build a power plant in Asheville. But the two nonprofits – including NC WARN in Durham – say they plan to appeal the Utilities Commission ruling.
In general the higher up the societal food chain you go – cases that delve into the world of powerful interest groups, the uber-wealthy and well-heeled corporations – the higher your legal fees…but there’s always the assumption you can have your day in court. That assumption has received a jarring wakeup call in North Carolina in a case revolving around Duke Energy’s plans to rebuild its Lake Julian power plant.
Letter to the Editor from Dr. Harvard Ayers of The Climate Times. We believe that Duke Energy’s attempts to ignore our concerns have been the epitome of an anti-democratic power play to deny the public the right to object to a monopoly business that is clearly putting corporate profit ahead of customer well- being.
Letter to the Editor by Jim Warren. We’re asking the NC Court of Appeals to require an open, careful debate over Duke’s project. If Duke Energy is so uncertain about its case for the plant, its shareholders should bear any risks of proceeding with construction. And we’ll continue speaking out when state officials favor Duke Energy instead of the public interest.
NC WARN, based in Durham, and Climate Times, based in Boone, planned to challenge the permit in court. The two groups say that natural gas, largely derived from fracking – an energy industry technique used to extract oil and gas from rock by injecting high-pressure mixtures of water, sand or gravel and chemicals – results in methane leaks that release more greenhouse gas into the atmosphere than burning coal does.