It is day 37 of my 365 Days of Living Deliberately blog, and I had no idea that three days ago when I was smiling and quoting Pete Seeger who said, “organize and fight,” that we would suffer another environmental disaster so soon, this time a direct hit on the waterways and airways of Virginia and  North Carolina by the breach of a coal ash basin into the Dan River that is part of the RoanokeRiver Basin. I had no idea that the idea of organizing and fighting would feel so immediately pressing, so personally overwhelming, so full of the awful truth.

I already know what it feels like to be directly poisoned.  I know what it feels like to know that my county’s land, air, and water were polluted.  I know because I live where the most powerful governor of North Carolina used nearly a million dollars of State Police and National Guardsmen to bury some 60,000 tons of PCB and dioxin-contaminated soil in a landfill just above groundwater in order to prove a point, namely, that government and industry will legally take control of the environment, natural resources, and public health of any community that they can politically control.

Now, our present North Carolina governor is a former Duke Energy executive as is the director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, so it will not be surprising if Duke Energy is able to circumvent legal and financial responsibility for the coal ash disaster and for whatever cleanup is even possible.

The malignant neglect of Duke Power concerning its coal ash dumps is nothing but a mirror of our government officials, our legislators and regulators who continue to write environmental laws and regulations to protect polluters and not people and the environment.  The legislators, the regulators, and the polluting industries should be seen for what they are — criminals who should be prosecuted and who should do jail time.

According to Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who wrote Crimes Against Nature, “If a terrorist group committed in North Carolina – for ideological reasons – a crime that Duke Energy has committed for profit, our nation would consider it an act of war against our country. Duke could have avoided contaminating the Dan River and poisoning Virginia’s water supplies if it had removed its toxic ash heaps years ago after being warned by EPA.”

The above photo is by LYNN HEY/News & Record.