Sierra Club National Beyond Coal Campaign Executive Director Mary Anne Hitt
Our North Carolina Beyond Coal organizer Emma Greenbaum provides this report:
On February 18th over 150 clean water advocates from across North Carolina came together to demand an end to coal ash pollution in the state, in the wake of the Dan River spill.
After Duke Energy’s spill at the Dan River coal plant which dumped 50,000 – 80,000 tons of toxic coal ash pollution into the river just upstream of Danville, VA’s drinking water outtakes, a statewide coalition came together to mobilize a response in incredibly rapid fashion. Over a two week period, Sierra Club, Appalachian Voices, and Greenpeace collected 9000+ online petitions demanding that Duke Energy take responsibility for it’s pollution. In a fantastic showing from our members and supporters, our contribution numbered between 5000 and 6000 petitions collected. Around 50 Sierra Club members and supporters were present at the rally, with a sizable contingent of about 25 folks that made the 2.5 hr drive from Asheville that morning. The coalition also included the Charlotte Environmental Action Committee, Action NC, We Love Mountain Island Lake, West Virginia Keeper of the Mountains, North Carolina Conservation Network, NC Interfaith Power and Light and others.
We had an incredible lineup of speakers, including National Beyond Coal Campaign Director and fearless leader Mary Anne Hitt, as well as the now-famous Amy Adams, Campaign Coordinator for Appalachian Voices, who recently quit the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) due to her disagreement with the agency’s new polluter-friendly policies. DENR is now under federal investigation for potential criminal activity and collusion with Duke Energy.
The rally got heated when Duke Energy refused to accept the petitions, as a senior Duke executive had agreed to a day earlier. Recognizing that this was incredibly poor form, in a wrap up to the media Mary Anne Hitt reiterated that Duke Energy was not listening to it’s customers, and that we would be back.
After the rally dispersed and media had packed up, in truly weaselly fashion, a Duke PR rep came out and accepted the petitions. I have attached a photo I snapped a this moment (the picture they were really hoping we wouldn’t get), as well as a few others.
There is a lot to tell in this story, and it is still unfolding. Keep your eyes on NC for exciting movement on the coal ash fight!
Thanks to Avram Friedman, Executive Director of the Canary Coalition, for developing and sharing this video of the February 18th Petition Delivery and Rally against the Dan River disaster and NC coal ash policy.
Here is some of the media coverage of the event: