It is day 70 of my 365 Days of Living Deliberately.
As Reverend Barber has said, we can, and should ask Duke Energy, Governor McCrory, and his Duke-affiliated administration to repent and to do the right thing — to clean up the coal ash now. It’s true, environmental pollution is a universal sin, but an apology is only a first step to redemption.
Without immediate action to remediate the problem, apologies are meaningless in the midst of a pressing, ongoing disaster. In the case of the massive North Carolina coal ash disaster, immediate remediation efforts are the only move that may begin to make a Duke apology acceptable.
Duke Energy knows it has caused a coal ash emergency and that time is of the essence.
Duke Energy’s President of Utility Operations Paul Newton has said that Duke is committed to clean up of the river: “Whatever it may be that is required of the river, you have our complete, 100 percent commitment to make it right…we take full responsibility.”
Full responsibility requires cleaning up the Dan River as well as Kerr Lake where coal ash contaminants also have been detected. And a “100 percent commitment to make it right” [the coal ash devastation] that the cleanup process begins immediately by suctioning up the coal ash sediment where it is the greatest and the farthest — without delays by corporate, political, and shareholder maneuvering; bureaucratic red tape, and procedural hurdles.
As the coal ash contamination spreads, and the perimeters of the cleanup expand, however, the cost of the cleanup to Duke Energy, its shareholders, and customers grows in proportion. So, for economic reasons, Duke Energy investors and customers need to press for an immediate cleanup.
Duke Energy and state and EPA officials must perceive the Eden coal ash breach as an emergency that must be addressed without delay, just as fire-fighters come to a flaming scene with ladders, hoses, and water to stop a fire from burning out of control. Before they start putting out a fire, firefighters don’t say, “Let’s look into this fire; let’s discuss who permitted or didn’t permit it to happen. Let’s see if it will cost too much to put the fire out. Let’s let the fire spread while we try to calculate how to avoid the next fire somewhere else [the other 32 Duke coal ash ponds].”
While firefighters are trained to act decisively and to take immediate action, Duke Energy and state officials have been trained by “corporate friendly” governors, legislators, and regulators to operate with outright disregard to the environment, natural resources, and public health. They have been encouraged to pollute with impunity and without significant legal and financial consequences to the company’s profits.
But Duke Energy’s days of wanton criminal negligence and the state and the EPA ’s corporate-friendly blessings are over. The coal ash disaster has ended the dirty shroud. Governor Coal Ash McCrory, DENR Czar Skvarla, and Duke Energy President and Chief Executive Officer Lynn (Genghis Khan) Good — and their licenses to decimate — have been revoked by a growing public sentiment that is enraged at the coal ash disaster and that demands reclamation now.