A Dark and Dirty Iceberg

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The Dan River coal ash spill, while the third largest in U.S. history, represents just the tip of a dark and dirty iceberg.

National media coverage from the L.A. Times to the Washington Post to the Rachel Maddow Show has pointed out the all too cozy relationship between Duke Energy, NC DENR, and Governor Pat McCrory. A Federal investigation into possible criminal charges and continued reports of illegal discharges from coal ash dumps has been a reminder that Duke Energy has its priorities wrong. And now a major shareholder revolt from some of the largest investors is calling for a separate investigation into the spill and even a vote against the re-election of four directors because they “have failed to fulfill their obligations of risk oversight as members of a committee overseeing health, safety, and environmental compliance at the company”.

The Dan River coal ash spill has reminded us that Duke has too many outdated, dirty coal plants threatening our air, water and public health. It has brought to greater public light the fact that decades of illegal coal ash pollution has taken a toll on all of us and our rivers, lakes and streams. It has brought together diverse groups of citizens pointing out that low-income communities have paid too high a price for Duke Energy’s coal ash waste, paying with contaminated drinking water and pollution.

For shareholders, customers and North Carolina residents, the next steps are clear. Duke must clean up toxic coal ash everywhere. Without real action, Duke’s legacy in NC will be covered in coal ash. Duke must set a clear plan to phase out more of its coal-fired power plants across the state, starting with the Asheville plant. Duke must support, not crush solar power – that means recognizing the value of solar and supporting small solar businesses in NC.
Customers should not be forced to foot the bill for Duke Energy’s coal ash problem. The company and its shareholders should have to pay the cost for decades of illegal pollution. All North Carolinians deserve real action from Duke Energy that doesn’t move the problem from one place to another. The best way to deal with coal ash long term is to phase out coal in North Carolina and lead the South with clean energy solutions.

It’s time to remind Duke Energy and the company’s shareholders that the nation’s largest utility company has failed us. It’s time to let our local and state elected officials, NC DENR, and the NC Utilities Commission know that we want to move beyond coal in North Carolina and shift boldly to solar power, wind energy and the full suite of clean energy solutions that create jobs while protecting our people, our health and our environment.

That’s why we need your voice and presence to be heard. Between now and the start of the 2014 Legislative Short Session, May14, we need in-district meetings with state elected officials calling for strong coal ash regulations. On April 30th we need you and clergy from across the state to come to Charlotte on the eve of the Duke Energy shareholder meeting in a Light the Path Forward gathering, a candlelight vigil to remember the impacts of coal ash. And we need your signs and voices to be heard at the May 1st Duke Shareholder meeting rally and press conference where hundreds of concerned citizens from across the Duke service area will gather.

North Carolina needs an energy company we can be proud of and shareholders need a company they can be proud of. Right now, Duke Energy fails on both counts. Join us as we work to move beyond coal in North Carolina and shift boldly to solar power, wind energy and the full suite of clean energy solutions that create jobs while protecting our people, our health and our environment.

Make plans to join us and invite your friends, neighbors, and clergy.

Light the path forward: Candlelight vigil to remember the impacts of coal ash
Wednesday, April 30th, the eve of the Duke Energy annual shareholder meeting
7:30 to 8:30 PM
New Duke Energy Headquarters, 550 South Tryon St, Charlotte, NC
Facebook Event: Light the path forward
Clergy, Lay Leaders, and People of Faith – A Call to “Light the Path Forward”

Duke Energy Shareholder Meeting Rally and Press Conference
Thursday, May 1st
8:30 AM arrive and set up for 9:00 AM rally and press conference
Former Duke Energy headquarters, 526 South Church St, Charlotte, NC (location of shareholder meeting)
Duke Energy Shareholder Meeting – April 30 Candlelight Vigil, May 1 Rally

 

Lobbying for a Coal Ash Clean-Up Bill

North Carolina Chapter Sierra Club

Thank for you taking action to hold Duke accountable for their massive coal ash spill into the Dan River. And now our legislators need to follow through to make sure nothing like this ever happens again in North Carolina.

We have the momentum on our side– but your legislators need to hear from their constituents. That’s where you come in.

With just 27 days until the start of the legislative session on May 14, now is the best time to meet with legislators at home in their districts. The message is clear: the North Carolina General Assembly needs to make sure Duke Energy cleans up its waste at the three dozen unlined wet coal ash pits across the state, all of which threaten local water resources.

The NC Chapter recently held two webinars to give folks the training and the tools to effectively advocate and educate your legislators on coal ash. While it’s clearly not the same, you can gain a great deal of information, insight, and tools to become a better advocate.

With 170 legislators to meet with, it’s time to get started securing support from your legislators for meaningful action when the legislature reconvenes in May!

For additional information, contact Zak Keith, zak.keith@sierraclub.org, or Cassie Gavin, cassie.gavin@sierraclub.org.

AGENDA

  • Why Become a Volunteer Lobbyist?
  • Why Legislative Action is Needed Now?
  • Background on NC Coal Ash
    • The Dan River Spill
    • Facts About Coal Ash in North Carolina
  • Lobbying 101
    • Tips, the Ask, Materials
    • Importance of Reporting
  • Update on Status of Any Coal Ash Legislation

Click below to review the PowerPoint presentation

Lobbying Coal Ash BillSierra Club NC Chapter Coal Ash Webinar

Clergy, Lay Leaders, and People of Faith – A Call to “Light the Path Forward”

Light the path forward:

Candlelight vigil to remember the impacts of coal ash

Two Candles

Wednesday, April 30th, the eve of the Duke Energy annual shareholder meeting
7:30 to 8:30 PM
New Duke Energy Headquarters, 550 South Tryon St, Charlotte, NC
Map

Facebook: Light the Path Forward

RSVP

Faith traditions around the world have a rich heritage of preserving and protecting the environment and speaking out on environmental justice issues (see below). That’s why we need clergy, lay leaders, and people of faith to join us and send Duke Energy, their Board of Directors, and major shareholders a message calling for a new path forward. This is an opportunity to speak out and show our solidarity on three key issues:

Climate Disruption – The recent IPCC report “Climate Change 2014 Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability” and the NBC news “Our Year of Extremes: Did Climate Change Just Hit Home?” illustrate how communities are suffering the impact of climate disruption. Changing the business practices of Duke Energy, the largest investor owned utility in the world, will send a strong message that we have a moral obligation to act on climate change.

Coal Ash Clean Up – Clergy and lay leaders have a responsibility as stewards of our environment to speak out to preserve and protect our air, water, lands and the health of our communities. Duke Energy must take immediate action to stop their coal ash pollution, remove the coal ash from our drinking water supplies, store the dry coal ash in properly designed and monitored lined containments that do not place extra burdens on low income and communities of color.

Cost of Coal Ash Clean Up – Duke CEO Lynn Good has gone on record as saying that rate payers will be charged for coal ash clean up in North Carolina. Duke Energy has profited for years from avoiding dealing with safe, long term storage of coal ash. We need the faith community to speak out about the potential impact on seniors, those on fixed income, the un/underemployed, and businesses and schools in our communities.

Make plans to join us and to help announce this gathering. Please RSVP to Bill Gupton or for questions and more information.

Faith, the Environment, and Environmental Justice

Catholic Church

“The vocation of being a “protector,” however, is not just something involving us Christians alone; it also has a prior dimension which is simply human, involving everyone. It means protecting all creation, the beauty of the created world, as the Book of Genesis tells us and as Saint Francis of Assisi showed us. It means respecting each of God’s creatures and respecting the environment in which we live”

~ Pope Francis, [ Homily of Pope Francis, 19 March 2013.]

Islam

Allah, in His Wisdom, appointed humans, the creatures that He has conferred with the faculty of reason and with free will, to be His vice regents on earth. And while Allah has invited people to partake of the fruits of the earth for their rightful nourishment and enjoyment, He has also directed them not to waste that which Allah has provided for him—for He loveth not wasters.

~ Hyder Ihsan Mahasneh, biologist and Islamic scholar, [Faiths and Ecology: Islamic Faith Statement]

Judaism

‘Therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live’ (Deuteronomy 30:20). Humankind has solemn obligation to improve the world for future generations. Minimizing climate change requires us to learn how to live within the ecological limits of the earth so that we will not compromise the ecological or economic security of those who come after us.”,

~ Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, [Confronting the Challenge of Climate Change, 06/1998]

Buddhism

The scientific consensus is overwhelming: human activity is triggering environmental breakdown on a planetary scale… Collectively, we are violating the first precept—“do not harm living beings”—on the largest possible scale. And we cannot foresee the biological consequences for human life when so many species that invisibly contribute to our own well-being vanish from the planet…

~ The Dalai Lama, [The Time to Act is Now: A Buddhist Declaration on Climate Change]

Unitarian Universalist Association

“As Unitarian Universalists, we are called by our seventh Principle to affirm and promote “respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.”

~ 2006 Statement of Conscience, [Threat of Global Warming/Climate Change, 2006]

Other Christian Traditions

Southern Baptist Conference

[A Southern Baptist Declaration on the Environment and Climate Change]

Evangelical Christianity

[Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action]

Episcopal Church

[Unnumbered Resolution: The Episcopal Church commits to Climate Justice for all God’s People and all God’s Creation, July 2012]

National Association of Evangelicals

[Loving the Least of These: Addressing a Changing Environment (pdf), 2011]

Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

[Carbon Neutral Resolution, 2008]

Christian Reformed Church

[Our World Belongs to God: A Contemporary Testimony in 2008]

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

[Environment Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope, and Justice, 08/28/1993]

United Church of Christ

[A Resolution on Climate Change,2007]

United Methodist Church

[ Issues: Climate Justice]

Source: FCNL: http://fcnl.org/issues/energy/faith_statements_climate/

 

 

Unleash the Flood: Duke Shareholder Meeting – Candlelight Vigil (4/30) and Rally and Press Conference (5/1)

Yes, there is a huge dam of public anger about the way Duke Energy, NC DENR, and Governor Pat McCrory are dealing with cleaning up the North Carolina toxic coal ash pits. That’s why YOU should join hundreds of citizens from across the state and other Duke Energy service areas in calling for change. There will be two peaceful gatherings around the Duke Energy shareholder meeting. Email me at BillGupton1@gmail.com for more information or to volunteer.

Duke Dike

Here’s how you can be a part of the flood of people calling on Duke Energy to clean up their act.

A number of organizations have been working on activities surrounding the Duke Energy annual shareholder meeting to be held in Charlotte. We would really like your help in getting the word out AND getting folks to come to our two major actions:

Light the path forward: Candlelight vigil to remember the impacts of coal ash
Wednesday, April 30th, the eve of the Duke Energy annual shareholder meeting
7:30 to 8:30 PM
New Duke Energy Headquarters, 550 South Tryon St, Charlotte, NC

Duke Energy Shareholder Meeting Rally and Press Conference
Thursday, May 1st
8:30 AM arrive and set up for 9:00 AM rally and press conference
Former Duke Energy headquarters, 526 South Church St, Charlotte, NC (location of shareholder meeting)

Here’s some ways that you can help:

  • Candlelight Vigil
    • Contact your personal house of worship clergy and ask them to attend the candlelight vigil. Email me their information so I can keep track of those attending.
    • Reach out to the your contacts in the local faith community and ask other clergy to attend the vigil.
    • Announce the vigil to your friends and networks via email, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
    • Plan to attend the vigil!
    • Other ideas and suggestions welcomed – contact Emma Greenbaum <emma.greenbaum@gmail.com> or me.
  • Shareholder Meeting Rally and Press Conference
    • Announce the rally to your friends and networks via email, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
    • Make signs and banners and plan to attend the rally.
    • Proxies – If you have a Duke Energy proxy and would like to assign it so that someone can go inside the meeting, contact Kelly Martin <kelly.martin@sierraclub.org>.
    • Other ideas and suggestions welcomed!

If you are planning to bring a carpool of folks to the events, Sierra Club has some funds available to provide assistance. You will need to contact Kelly Martin and complete a form for partial reimbursement.

Spread the word and see you on April 30th and May 1st!

Now is the Time for YOU to Take Action on Coal Ash

North Carolina Chapter Sierra Club

Dear Friends,

Citizens across North Carolina are taking action to hold Duke accountable for their massive coal ash spill into the Dan River. And now our legislators need to follow through to make sure nothing like this ever happens again in North Carolina.

coal ash spillRegister Today - convio.png

We have the momentum on our side– but your legislators need to hear from their constituents. That’s where you come in.

With 36 days until the start of the legislative session on May 14, now is the best time to meet with legislators at home in their districts. The message is clear: the North Carolina General Assembly needs to make sure Duke Energy cleans up its waste at the three dozen unlined wet coal ash pits across the state, all of which threaten local water resources.

Join the NC Sierra Club and our allies on a webinar at 6:00 p.m. on April 10 to get the training and the tools to effectively advocate and educate your legislators on coal ash.

With 170 legislators to meet with, it’s time to get started securing support from your legislators for meaningful action when the legislature reconvenes in May! Sign up today to get you and your neighbors started.

Reserve your Webinar seat now at:

https://www4.gotomeeting.com/register/205129519

Title: Coal Ash Training

Date: Thursday, April 10, 2014

Time: 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM EDT

Location: Online

Please let me know if you have any questions about this training or what you can do make sure all of the coal ash in our state is cleaned up and moved away from our water supplies!

Cheers,

Zak Keith
Lead Organizer, NC Sierra Club

P.S. – Registration for our free webinar is fast and easy!  Don’t miss your chance to find out what you can do to help make sure Duke Energy’s toxic coal ash gets cleaned up!

Charlotte Environment Committee Coal Ash Review – Apr 9, 2:00 PM

If you attend this committee meeting you get a 2-for-one bonus! Come hear about a new Charlotte Solid Waste study AND the City Coal Ash Due Diligence Review . Be sure to speak to your City Council member before or after the meeting and let them know that we need to develop a model, gold standard coal ash storage at the Charlotte Airport.

Char Enviro Comm Agenda 04_09_14

 

Don’t Miss “Years of Living Dangerously” – Starting April 13

Don’t Miss “Years of Living Dangerously” – Starting April 13

“YEARS of LIVING DANGEROUSLY is global warming like you’ve never seen it before.  Coming to SHOWTIME in April, this multi-part television event tells the biggest story of our time: climate change and the impact it’s having on people right now in the US and all over the world.  Over the course of eight episodes, we’ll report on the crippling effects of climate change-related weather events and the ways individuals, communities, companies and governments are struggling to find solutions to the biggest threat our world has ever faced.  An all-star cast of correspondents goes into the field—to Texas, Kansas, California, Colorado, New York, Maine, Montana, Washington, the Carolinas, Florida, the Middle East, Africa, the Andes, the North Pole, Indonesia, Bangladesh and the South Pacific—to meet the people and see the places affected by climate change.” (via yearsoflivingdangerously.com)

Celebrities including Matt Damon, Jessica Alba, Don Cheadle, Olivia Munn, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Harrison Ford, America Ferrera, and more are acting as correspondents to share these climate stories and solutions from around the world.

Watch for Ian Somerhalder (Lost, Vampire Diaries) interviewing Mary Anne Hitt, Beyond Coal director, and Anna Jane Joyner, Western North Carolina Alliance activist. Parts of the episode are set right here in Asheville, NC, including Duke Energy’s Lake Julian coal plant. In 2013, City of Asheville unanimously passed a clean energy resolution. In 2014, community members are asking Duke Energy NC to stop living dangerously and move beyond coal to a clean energy future.

Years Mary Anne

 

Help Us Hold Duke Energy Accountable

North Carolina Chapter Sierra Club

Dear Friends,

Since millions of gallons of toxic coal ash and contaminated water spilled from an unlined Duke Energy waste pit into the Dan River in February, there’s been a lot of talk, but little action.

Coal Ash Convio.jpg

This image is of the coal ash spill at Duke Energy’s plant on the Dan River.  Photo credit: Wake Forest University Center for Energy, Environment & Sustainability.

Duke Accountable Click.png

Last week, Gov. McCrory sent a letter to Duke Energy asking the company to provide options and costs for removing their toxic coal ash from unlined pits near our waterways.  He gave them the deadline of March 15 to respond.

That doesn’t mean the state will take action. But you can help change that.

It is long overdue for Duke Energy to clean up its act. That’s why we are raising $37,000 by March 15th to hold Duke Energy accountable. That’s $1,000 for every coal ash pit in North Carolina.

That’s right.  There are 37 of these unlined coal ash pits, most of them near waterways.  And with your help, we can pressure them to move these toxic coal ash pits away from our waterways and into high and dry lined landfills.

It’s easy for politicians to call for solutions in a time of emergency.  But real leadership is shown when those calls to action turn into enforceable laws with deadlines for clean up.

By acting now, you can mobilize public support across the state to call upon legislators to hold Duke Energy accountable.  Your support will rally our 50,000 members and supporters– a presence in all 100 of North Carolina’s counties–who are well positioned to take on this challenge. Please join us today in this cause!

And with more than four decades of experience in advocating for the environment before the North Carolina General Assembly and Executive branch, we are well-prepared to take this on.

Click here to help make sure that Duke Energy cleans up its toxic coal ash pits!

For people who live and play on the Dan River, things may never be the same.  But you can help make a difference for other communities across the state.

Sincerely,

Molly Diggins
State Director of the NC Sierra Club
P.S. – Every dollar you give stays right here in North Carolina. Please help us reach our fundraising goal of $37,000 to help our work to hold the Governor and legislators accountable and urge them to find cleanup solutions for the 37 toxic coal ash pits that threaten our waterways.

New Poll: North Carolinians Want Coal Ash Safeguards Now

March 25, 2014

Mary Anne Hitt
Director, Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign

The controversy continues almost two months after a Duke Energy spill of toxic coal ash into the Dan River. First, the Waterkeeper Alliance discovered Duke Energy dumping some 61 million gallons of coal ash wastewater into yet another waterway – the Cape Fear River. Duke Energy has been cited eight times since the Feb. 2 Dan River spill!

Now, state regulators have withdrawn the sweetheart coal ash violation settlements offered in previous years and instead have asked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to step in to further investigate coal ash violations.

Today the Sierra Club released a poll showing that these inexcusable and shocking continued water violations are taking their toll on North Carolinians. Some highlights from the poll:

  • A stunning 90 percent of North Carolina voters want Duke to clean up all coal ash sites in the state, including the Dan River spill, and 88 percent feel coal ash should be stored away from water in specially lined landfills.
  • A large majority of North Carolina voters – 75 percent – are aware of the Dan River coal ash spill and there is broad concern about it within the state’s electorate.

There is strong bipartisan support for regulating coal ash as a hazardous substance, to the tune of 83 percent of North Carolina voters, including super majorities of Democrats (91 percent), Independents (85 percent), and Republicans (75 percent).

  • North Carolinians, particularly those who have heard the most about the spill, place the blame for it squarely on Duke Energy.
  • North Carolinians strongly favor more regulation and enforcement when it comes to coal ash, and overwhelmingly believe that without this another spill will occur.
  • 70 percent of voters would support a candidate who favors strong regulations and enforcement to protect the water, air, and health of North Carolinians and to prevent future incidents like the recent coal ash spill, including 55 percent of Republicans, 69 percent of Independents, and 87 percent of Democrats.

These results are strikingly similar to the poll we recently conducted in West Virginia. Taken together, the two polls demonstrate a clear finding that turns conventional wisdom on its head – people in states where the coal industry is still powerful want protections against coal pollution, and they want to support independent leaders who will stand up for clean air and water safeguards.

This story is not going away, in part because residents of the affected states continue to suffer from these spills. In Charleston, residents are still not drinking their water and new test results revealed just today that the coal chemical MCHM is still leaking into the Elk River and showing up in household drinking water.

In North Carolina, officials say it will take at least two years to clean up the Dan River spill, while more coal ash problems are being revealed all the time. In Virginia, which also received some of the Dan River pollution, residents are angry and worried about their health, safety, and economy, and Governor McAuliffe has called on Duke to cover the costs of the cleanup.

The EPA has the tools it needs to prevent another Dan River spill from happening. As Politico reported this week, the EPA is coming under increased scrutiny for failing to finalize long-overdue coal water protections. No more delay – just ask the people of North Carolina. TAKE ACTION: It’s time to protect our water from coal pollution.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mary-anne-hitt/north-carolinians-want-co_b_5030298.html

Here are some related articles:

The Hill:

http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/e2-wire/201636-sierra-club-poll-finds-support-for-coal-ash-regulation-in-nc#.UzGoNdPzoPQ.twitter

ThinkProgress:

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/03/25/3418629/nc-voters-want-strong-coal-ash-regulation/

Charlotte Observer:

http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2014/03/25/4792702/voters-want-tougher-ash-rules.html#.UzG9PfldWSo

Greensboro News-Record:

http://www.news-record.com/news/article_a033d77c-b43e-11e3-a726-0017a43b2370.html

Charlotte Business Journal:

http://www.bizjournals.com/charlotte/blog/energy/2014/03/survey-duke-energy-has-too-much-pull-in-state.html