Concerned community members urge legislators to make Duke pay

by Hanna Mitchell

March 12, 2014

A protester makes her thoughts about Duke Energy known among the masses. Tens of thousands of people gathered at Shaw University in downtown Raleigh. The march travelled to the doorstep of the State Capitol. Each year this fusion movement comes together in February to hold a mass people's assembly to reaffirm its commitment to the 14 Point People's Agenda and to hold lawmakers accountable to citizens.

© Jason Miczek / Greenpeace

On Monday night, more than 90 people packed into Cooks Presbyterian Church in Mount Holly, NC for a town hall meeting with nonprofit leaders and elected officials. Distress over the coal ash spill in Eden continues to bubble, and people in the Charlotte area are growing increasingly agitated about the threat that other coal ash dumps pose to their drinking water supply.

[caption id="attachment_24589" align="alignnone" width="600"]Photo courtesy Ahmer Inam Photo courtesy Ahmer Inam[/caption]

Duke Energy owns 37 coal ash dumps, in 14 locations across the state. In the Mountain Island Lake community where Mondays town hall took place, two dumps containing more than double the volume of the Eden dump sit adjacent to the drinking water supply for 860,000 people.

The EPA has classified these dumps as high hazard, meaning that should these ticking time bombs of toxic waste burst, loss of human life would likely occur.

Everybody wants to know who will foot the bill for the coal ash crisis. While Duke has conceded it will pay for the Dan River clean up costs, CEO Lynn Good announced last Friday that ratepayers will be responsible for recovering costs of dump removal across the state, to the tune of a billion dollars.

[caption id="attachment_24591" align="alignnone" width="600"]reps Photo courtesy Ahmer Inam[/caption]

The town hall meeting on Monday highlighted the indignation of a disenfranchised constituency. As the Carolinian coal ash crisis continues to unfold, people across the state are galvanized by the unveiling of ingrained government corruption. For more than two hours, community members addressed a panel with Representatives Torbett (Republican) and Moore (Democrat), calling on them to put an end to corporate welfare.

The legislature should be taking orders from the people, not corporations.

Not only is Duke one of the largest contributors to political campaigns in North Carolina, but the regulatory agencies tasked with protecting the public interest, such as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and North Carolina Utilities Commission, are also in cahoots with Duke.

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People in North Carolina pay Duke Energy through their energy bills. They also pay Duke with their own health and the health of future generations. To pass clean-up costs on to consumers is not only untenable, considering that North Carolina is home to one of the largest population of working poor in the country. It is unjust and morally reprehensible.

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