Posts Tagged ‘North Carolina’

Surprised? McCrory’s Coal Ash Proposal Falls Short

Saturday, April 19th, 2014 - posted by brian
Photo by Waterkeeper Alliance

Photo by Waterkeeper Alliance

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory is catching flak for a proposal on coal ash that could derail state legislators’ efforts to reform regulation of the toxic waste during the upcoming legislative session.

According to the News & Observer, McCrory’s proposal calls for “site-specific closures.” Coal ash from some ponds could be moved, other ponds would be drained and capped but likely still threaten groundwater. In other words, basically what Duke Energy has already said it plans to do.

McCrory and John Skvarla, secretary of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, have been adamant that a one-size-fits-all approach to coal ash isn’t prudent, talking down a vocal public that believes the toxic waste should be moved from storage near waterways to safer, lined landfills.

On its face, the bill seems to signal progress, or at least make a bad situation a little bit better. For example, it would shorten the time in which Duke would have to notify the public of spills, from 48 hours to 24. OK, probably shouldn’t have been 48 hours to begin with, but we’ll take it.

Also, while the plan would not impose deadlines on Duke to address its leaky ash ponds, it would give Duke 60 days to 90 days after the plan’s passage to submit clean-up plans for ash ponds at the four plants with the most urgent pollution threats – Riverbend, Dan River, Sutton and Asheville.

Pat McCrory

Pat McCrory

But Duke already plans to remove ash from the retired Dan River plant, the site of the massive coal ash spill that reminded the public of the toxic legacy left even after coal plants are shuttered. And the company’s plans to repurpose ash from the Riverbend and Asheville plants as fill material at the Charlotte and Asheville airports are both moving forward.

So what’s the rub? After all, McCrory’s office says it still prefers that the ash be moved away from waterways. But that’s part of the problem. Leaving pond closure timelines and what to do with all that coal ash up to Duke hasn’t worked too well up to this point. The public is demanding clean water be protected, not half measures that leave people to throw their hands in the air and say “well, hopefully Duke Energy will do the right thing.”

Citizens and environmental groups sounding off about the ties between Duke, McCrory and DENR have every reason to be skeptical. DENR’s customer-first (read: industry-first) approach had people scratching their heads long before the Dan River spill in February. And early revelations of the federal criminal investigation that followed the spill only increased the lack of trust.

Perhaps to ease those concerns, Skvarla told the News & Observer that neither McCrory’s staff nor the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources consulted Duke about the proposal.

“This is our legislation, not Duke’s legislation,” said Skvarla. That’s reassuring, I suppose. But the fact that it needs to be clarified does not inspire confidence.

The governor’s proposal could also overshadow other legislation that would do more to get this big dirty ball of coal ash that’s settled in North Carolina rolling. State Sen. Tom Apodaca, a member of McCrory’s party who plans to sponsor a bill strengthening coal ash regulation, says McCrory gave legislators no advance notice of the plan.

“The governor doesn’t do legislation. The legislature does legislation,” Apodaca told the Asheville Citizen-Times. “He should have worked with the folks in the legislature to be on the same page getting legislation drafted.”

Apodaca says the plan he intends to introduce would go further.

“We’re going to mandate actual timeframes to close these (ponds), especially those that are near water sources. We’re determined to get rid of the wet ash pond at Asheville.”

Environmental groups including Appalachian Voices want the state to use its authority to move coal ash to landfills licensed to store hazardous waste. The type of waste that contains arsenic, lead, mercury, you know, coal ash. But the N.C. Environmental Management Commission recently sided with Duke Energy and also appealed the ruling that gave the state the authority to do just that.

Appalachian Voices North Carolina campaign coordinator, Amy Adams, pointed out similarities between the legislation and the controversial settlement DENR asked a judge to throw out after months of intense criticism.

“Sections were essentially copied from the failed settlement between Duke and DENR, and then pasted into McCrory’s plan,” Adams said. “It fails to provide any deadlines, doesn’t require moving of the ash at all locations, and provides no standards for newly generated coal ash. This proposal protects Duke Energy, not North Carolina’s citizens.”

Click here to tell your legislators to reject the governor’s proposal and pass legislation that will move the toxic ash to safe, lined storage away from waterways.

Spring Happenings for Clean Water in N.C.

Friday, April 18th, 2014 - posted by amy
Children splash in North Carolina's Watauga River

Children splash in North Carolina’s Watauga River. Photo by Jamie Goodman

Spring is here and it’s time to go outside and enjoy the warm weather at the park or on the river! I’m so grateful for afternoons playing with my kids in the creek, teaching them about water bugs and sprouting plants. Times like these remind us of how thankful we are for clean water.

Appalachian Voices will be traveling across the state, joining our partners in hosting community earth day events and large public events. We hope you can join us for fun times outside while we advocate for coal ash clean up in North Carolina and defending clean water!

April 24 - Roanoke River Basin Association Town Hall in Henderson. Join neighbors, the RRBA and AV’s Amy Adams to discuss your coal ash concerns and work together to promote a cleanup strategy. 6 – 8 p.m. H. Leslie Perry Library, 205 Breckenridge St. Contact Deborah Ferruccio at deborahferrucio@gmail.com

April 26 – Two Earth Day festivals! The Piedmont Environmental Alliance fair in Winston-Salem Fairgrounds 10- 5 p.m. and Carolina Climate Action Earth Day in Marshall Park, Charlotte — be sure to stop by our table in Charlotte!

April 27 - “The Value of Water” in Boone — a community discussion about protecting our rights to safe water in the wake of the N.C. Dan River coal ash spill and the West Virginia Elk River chemical spill in early 2014. Hosted by AV and Boone Healing Arts Center. Event starts at 3 p.m. at the Boone Healing Arts Center, 838 State Farm Rd.

April 30 - “Light the Path Forward” in Charlotte — candlelight vigil to remember the effects of coal ash. 7:30 – 8:30 p.m. Duke Energy New Headquarters, 550 S. Tryon St.

May 1Mayday at Duke Shareholder Meeting in Charlotte — press conference and street theater outside of the Duke Energy annual shareholder meeting rallying for clean water, clean energy, environmental + racial + social justice, political transparency and a bright future for all. 9 – 11 a.m. Duke Energy Corporate Headquarters, 526 S. Church St. Also, in Winston-Salem catch a film screening and discuss coal ash concerns with Yadkin Riverkeeper, Southern Environmental Law Center and Appalachian Voices. 7 p.m., Temple Emanuel, 201 Oakwood Dr.

May 10 – Belews Paddle and Picnic in Belews Creek — family fun to support protection of Belews Lake, the Dan River, and our drinking water from coal ash pollution produced by the Belews Creek power plant. 11 – 4 p.m. Rock Hill Baptist Church, 4873 Pine Hall Rd.

May 20 - Educational forum focusing on coal ash in Arden/Asheville with Sierra Club, Western North Carolina Alliance and Appalachian Voices.

North Carolina sides with Duke Energy by appealing coal ash ruling

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 - posted by Sarah Kellogg
A coal ash pond at Duke Energy’s Buck Power Plant. Photo by Les Stone / Greenpeace

A coal ash pond at Duke Energy’s Buck Power Plant. Photo by Les Stone / Greenpeace

Why would the state ask a judge to take away its legal authority to stop groundwater pollution?

For years, North Carolina has known that Duke Energy’s coal ash ponds are illegally contaminating groundwater. Yet the state has not taken any action to force Duke to correct the violations.

In fact, the N.C. Environmental Management Commission, the body that oversees the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and determines what DENR can enforce, determined two years ago that the state did not have the authority to make Duke clean up the source of its illegal pollution — coal ash ponds.

Last month, to the relief of concerned citizens and environmental groups, a superior court judge reversed the EMC’s prior decision, ruling that the state actually does have the legal authority to force Duke Energy to immediately clean up its coal ash ponds.

As expected, Duke Energy appealed the judge’s decision. Last week, however, in a move that surprised many, the EMC also appealed the judge’s decision. Why would the state ask a judge to take away it’s legal authority to stop groundwater pollution?

The answer likely has to do with who makes up the EMC and how they were appointed. A local Raleigh news station, WNCN, did some digging and found that at least eight of the fifteen EMC members have ties to Duke Energy or other major power companies. For example, the chairman, Benne Hutson, works for a law firm that has represented Duke Energy in court.

Given that the EMC is appointed by the Senate president pro tempore, the House speaker, and the governor — who worked for Duke Energy for 28 years — it’s not surprising that the commission has chosen to pander to corporate interests rather than adequately protect North Carolina’s water and its citizens health.

Standing Up for the Guardians of Our Air and Water

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014 - posted by Kelsey Boyajian

By Amy Adams

North Carolina has learned a tough lesson in the Dan River coal ash spill: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In this case, the ounce of prevention would have come in the form of a well-staffed Division of Water Resources with the expertise and tools needed to run a compliance and monitoring program. However, budget cuts from the General Assembly and the updated “vision” from the new Department of Environment and Natural Resources administration gave us a glimpse of what can happen when you relax rules and requirements and try to transform state inspectors from environmental watchdogs into industry babysitters.

Amy Adams shows her hand after wiping a log covered in coal ash from the Dan River.

Amy Adams shows her hand after wiping a log covered in coal ash from the Dan River.

Industry giants and industry-friendly legislators often accuse environmental rules of being a roadblock to economic growth. In a nutshell, their argument is that it costs businesses too much money to protect the environment and communities from harm, when that money could instead be spent on job creation.

The argument always seems to be presented as a black and white choice — it’s either jobs or breathing clean air. Somehow, the argument from the industry side is always aimed at our wallets. Now we’re hearing the same arguments from Duke Energy, which claims ratepayers will have to shoulder the cost of switching to a safer coal ash storage system. Maybe that is partly due to where their own values lie — in profit margins. But the values that North Carolinians place on our environment transcend material concerns. And that gives me real hope.

Recent polling by Public Policy Polling proves how deeply our love for this state’s unique and diverse natural environment runs. According to the results, 93 percent of voters want state lawmakers to force Duke Energy to clean up the Dan River spill, and 83 percent think Duke should have to clean up all of its toxic coal ash sites. Emphasizing this, a national Gallup poll released in March showed that the majority of Americans said they prioritized the environment over economic growth. In the wake of the West Virginia and North Carolina threats to drinking water supplies, the ties between ourselves and the condition of the natural world around us have never been more apparent.

Making sure the resources that support our communities are protected falls on the shoulders of the Division of Water Resources at DENR. This state — as is the case for all states in the nation — is going to need its environmental scientists, engineers and inspectors if we are to adequately protect the environment, and in turn our water and air supplies. Routine inspections can lead to more compliance by companies, and can also reduce penalties — and environmental impacts — by catching problems and correcting them sooner. Rather than being viewed as a hindrance to industry’s way of business, regulators should be viewed as the guardians of our water supplies and healthy air.

Connecting the Dots of the Southern Appalachian Loop Trail

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014 - posted by meredith

By Matt Kirk

Matt Kirk stands at Rocky Top on the Appalachian Trail while thru hiking SALT. Photo courtesy Matt Kirk

Matt Kirk stands at Rocky Top on the Appalachian Trail while thru hiking SALT. Photo courtesy Matt Kirk

What unites many of us in the Southern Appalachians is a love for hiking along the hundreds of miles of trails in our region. Ten years ago, I discovered that many of these paths form a loop measuring over 350 miles in length. Pieced together, this route, known as the Southern Appalachian Loop Trail or SALT, is currently 99.4 percent complete. With the exception of a sliver of undeveloped land on the state line between North Carolina and South Carolina in Transylvania County, it’s already open to the public for hiking.

As a loop, you can start and finish at just about any point along the way and hike back around to where you started. The route highlights the beauty of the Southern Appalachians, from its staggering biodiversity and abundance of waterfalls cascading down from the Blue Ridge Escarpment to the high-elevation spruce forests and panoramic mountain balds in the Smokies. Several connecting trails afford each hiker an opportunity to choose his or her own adventure throughout the mountains of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee.

In the summer of 2012, I thru-hiked SALT, starting and ending at Jones Gap State Park in the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area of South Carolina. I hiked in a clockwise direction towards Georgia, along the Foothills Trail. After crossing the Chattooga River, I climbed ever higher over the Georgia mountains, into North Carolina, through the town of Franklin, and eventually joined the Appalachian Trail. At Clingmans Dome, the highest peak in Tennessee, I ventured onto the Mountains-to-Sea Trail and back through Brevard towards South Carolina.

In preparation for my journey, I started with a big picture and then fine-tuned the details for my adventure by consulting guidebooks, maps, websites and knowledgeable staff from local outfitters. I completed my journey in ten days, but a month would be better for a hike of this duration.

Rhododendron blossoms line a route near the intersection of the Art Loeb and Mountains-to-Sea Trails. Photo courtesy Matt Kirk

Rhododendron blossoms line a route near the intersection of the Art Loeb and Mountains-to-Sea Trails. Photo courtesy Matt Kirk

Even at my blistering pace, this walk brought me closer to the sights, sounds and smells of a wonderful, living temperate rainforest. For days, I enjoyed the sound of songbirds and the fragrance of the wildflowers as I watched for newts, snails, and yes, one rattlesnake along the trail. Although physically depleted, I returned both mentally and spiritually charged with a renewed appreciation for our region.

The trickiest section resides in Transylvania County where a road detour is necessary to bypass the missing link. Here, a proposed trail could join DuPont State Recreational Forest in North Carolina and the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area in South Carolina, bridging 24,000 acres of protected land. Measuring roughly two miles long, this connecting trail would also help to protect the propagation of local flora and provide a wildlife corridor for many animals.

The DuPont Connector, as it’s called, is a focus project of the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy, a western North Carolina land trust dedicated to protecting the region’s natural resources. Since 1994, CMLC has protected more than 27,000 acres of natural lands across the Blue Ridge, including more than 3,000 acres directly buffering DuPont State Recreational Forest. Often, the land trust works with landowners and partners to make many of these protected lands available for public recreation.

In 2013, a year after my thru-hike of SALT, I began a year of service with CMLC through the AmeriCorps Project Conserve program with a motivation to help move the DuPont Connector project forward. During my service with CMLC, I’ve been encouraged by the enthusiastic feedback from local residents and hikers about the concept of SALT. Thanks in large part to the work of a handful of organizations responsible for the creation of the Palmetto, Foothills, Bartram, Appalachian, Mountains-to-Sea and other regional trails, the route is close to completion.

My hike inspired me to encourage others to explore this amazing region rather than drive or fly to a far-away place. I strongly believe that this loop could soon become a popular hike for many throughout the country. And as hikers venture through the scenic mountains of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee, they will inevitably visit and patronize the businesses in the towns that SALT passes through along the way, including Brevard, Cherokee and Franklin, N.C.

You can help make SALT a reality by joining or volunteering with organizations involved with the construction and maintenance of the route. Visit these organizations at: carolinamountain.org, palmettoconservation.org, foothillstrail.org, gabartramtrail.org, ncbartramtrail.org, appalachiantrail.org and ncmst.org.

HH_map

An overview poster of the SALT map is now available from carolinamountain.org/gear with all proceeds going towards the completion of the route in Transylvania County.

An overview poster of the SALT map is now available from carolinamountain.org/gear with all proceeds going towards the completion of the route in Transylvania County.

Cherokee Tribe Works to Replenish Deer Population

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014 - posted by meredith

By Kelsey Boyajian

On the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation’s Qualla Boundary in western North Carolina, white-tailed deer are a rare species. The population was depleted in the late eighteenth century during the peak of the fur trade, but today, efforts are being made to restore the deer population — plentiful in the rest of western North Carolina — on tribal lands. Historically, the tribe valued deer for hunting, trading and folklore connections.

The tribe’s 5,130-acre territory just south of the Great Smoky Mountains is full of mature forests with little undergrowth for deer to eat. Prescribed burns and tree thinning will be used in order to create a more hospitable environment. The Cherokee tribe, partnering with state and federal agencies, is hoping to successfully release more than 50 white-tailed deer into the boundary by the end of 2014.

Mining Away Appalachian Well-Being

By Kelsey Boyajian

For the sixth year in a row, regions with significant mountaintop removal mining operations were identified as among the nation’s most unhappy areas by the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. Created in 2008 to measure emotional and physical health by state, the annual survey is based on more than 175,000 personal interviews across the country.

Nationwide, most mountaintop removal occurs in West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee. The largest operations are in Kentucky and West Virginia which ranked 49th and 50th, respectively, for overall well-being, while Tennessee placed 44th and Virginia 24th. Yet Virginia’s 9th district — which covers the bulk of southwest Virginia where mountaintop removal takes place —scored 398th out of 434 districts nationwide.

Mountaintop removal is connected to many environmental and health concerns, such as contaminated drinking water and poor air quality. In a 2011 study published in the Journal of Community Health, researchers found that “The odds for reporting cancer were twice as high in the mountaintop mining environment compared to the non-mining environment in ways not explained by age, sex, smoking, occupational exposure or family cancer history.”

Volunteering in North Carolina

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014 - posted by meredith

Stream Monitoring Information Exchange

For those interested in a hands-on experience, the Environmental Quality Institute offers training on how to analyze stream-dwelling bugs to determine watershed health in Buncombe, Haywood, Madison, Yancey and Mitchell counties. Volunteers attend six-hour training sessions in the spring and fall to learn about stream ecology and species identification, and participate in hands-on demonstrations of sampling techniques. Trainees then sign up for their preferred sites in small groups and are accompanied by group leaders to collect samples every spring and fall. Get Involved! Call 828-333-0392 or visit environmentalqualityinstitute.org. — E. Zupo

Horse Helpers of the High Country

Provide caring support to approximately 20 rescue horses at this animal shelter and education farm in Zionville, N.C. There’s plenty to do: building and mucking the stalls, cleaning water and feed buckets, and grooming the horses. Clarissa Gotsch, who joined last summer, says seeing the transformation of the abused horses through the love of the volunteers has been wonderful. “Horses have a very therapeutic character,” says Gotsch, “and caring for other creatures is a powerful healing experience.” New volunteers are welcome, 1-5 p.m. Wed. and Sat. Get involved! Call 828-297-1833 or visit horsehelpersnc.org

North Carolina to Set Precedent in Superfund Litigation

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014 - posted by meredith

By Kimber Ray

In January, the Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments in a case that will impact victims of toxic Superfund sites across the country. The Superfund program, created in 1980, is a federal initiative designed to address the nation’s most high-priority hazardous waste sites. Long-term exposure to chemicals and heavy metals migrating from these sites can cause health effects including cancer, liver and kidney failure, and heart disease.

At issue is the legal deadline to file claims seeking compensation for these health impacts. The Superfund program’s “Discovery Rule” sets a two-year deadline that begins once an impacted resident could reasonably link their illness to the Superfund site. This means that if a resident developed cancer decades after learning they were exposed to toxic waste, they have two years to file a claim. Yet in North Carolina, state law holds that claims can only be filed in the 10 years after the final act of contamination occurred at the site — even if residents were unaware that their health was being affected during this period.

The case now before the Supreme Court concerns a CTS Corporation Superfund site a few miles outside of Asheville, N.C. Because the outcome of the trial will affect claims against the federal government by victims of contamination at a separate Superfund site — Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base in North Carolina — the U.S. Department of Justice is providing defense in support of CTS.

From 1959 to 1986, the electronic manufacturing plant CTS of Asheville buried massive amounts of toxic waste underground, which infiltrated nearby soil, groundwater and drinking water sources. Although the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been aware of high levels of contaminants at the site since 1987, they did not alert the public until proposing the Superfund designation in 2011.

In response, community members filed suit against CTS for diseases allegedly connected to drinking water contaminated by the site. Last July, a federal appeals court ruled in favor of community members, but in January the Supreme Court announced that it would hear an appeal from CTS.

If CTS successfully argues that the deadline for legal claims should be set according to North Carolina limitations rather than federal Superfund limitations, the federal government will no longer be liable for compensating former residents of Camp Lejeune. The case will be reviewed April 23, and a final decision is expected by June.

A Moral Call to End Dangerous Coal Ash Storage

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014 - posted by Sarah Kellogg
Concerned citizens filled a church in Eden, N.C., last week to learn more about coal ash and the threats it poses to the environment and human health.

Concerned citizens filled a church in Eden, N.C., last week to learn more about coal ash and the threats it poses to the environment and human health.

Last Monday, concerned citizens packed the pews of a local church in Eden, N.C. The crowd, which was a diverse mixture of age, race and background, assembled for a town hall meeting on coal ash organized by the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP as a part of the Moral Monday movement.

Duke Energy’s Dan River coal-fired power plant is located in Eden, and it was there that a stormwater pipe below the massive coal ash pond failed in February, spewing thousands of tons of toxic laden coal ash into the Dan River.

Citizens are still seeing the effects of the spill. Mollusks and turtles are washing up dead on the banks of the Dan and local farmers are concerned that they may not be able to rely on water from the river this season or in the future.

The NAACP organized the meeting to raise awareness about the spill and its aftermath, but also to shed light on the coal ash problem that exists across North Carolina. The group is drawing attention to how most coal ash ponds are located in low-income communities and communities of color. Across the country, communities of color and poor families face environmental injustices that burden them with the economic and health impacts of pollution.

At the town hall meeting, Annie Brown gave testament to environmental injustices of coal ash. Brown has spent her entire life living near the Belews Creek Coal Plant, which has a coal ash pond with a capacity of more than four billion gallons — the largest in North Carolina. She has raised children and grandchildren in the area and has watched her family and neighbors become ill with unusual diseases and cancer. Brown bravely spoke to the packed church about her own health issues and the scores of her neighbors she has seen die prematurely over the years. Watch her entire speech here.

Annie Brown was one of seven panelists at the meeting. Others included representatives from Appalachian Voices, the Southern Environmental Law Center, NC WARN, and Dawn Witter, a resident of Danville, Va., who spoke eloquently about the economic effects the spill has had on the city and the potential health risks associated with water pollution. Witter explained that Danville was once a center for industry, and the community, economy and river have borne the burden of pollution for decades. For her, the Dan River spill was a painful continuation of that trend.

North Carolina NAACP President Rev. William Barber gave a rousing speech about the sinful nature of the issue. He pointed out that the same government that cut healthcare for the poor, also cut back environmental regulations that protect human health, especially for those North Carolinians’ who live in communities that are the most impacted by pollution.

The information presented at the town hall meeting left little doubt in participants’ minds that Duke Energy is not a trustworthy company. Time and time again, Duke has chosen to ignore the voices of the communities in which it stores its toxic waste dumps rather than acting as responsible neighbors and protecting communities from pollution in ways that would save lives.

Last week, Duke requested that citizen groups who have intervened in the state’s coal ash lawsuits be barred from participation. The judge has yet to make a decision, but based on Duke’s previous dismissal of community concerns, it is imperative that communities be given a voice in the lawsuit. Without anyone to advocate for their health, it is likely that Duke will continue to allow life-threatening pollution to contaminate communities.

To watch more of the town hall meeting, check out the live stream here.

Duke Energy Appeals Court Order to End Coal Ash Groundwater Pollution

Friday, April 4th, 2014 - posted by brian
Duke Energy says its accountable but continues to delay any real action on coal ash.

Duke Energy says it’s accountable for its coal ash pollution while evading responsibility and delaying any real action.

Duke Energy has appealed a March 6 ruling by a Wake County judge that it must take immediate action to end groundwater pollution from its coal ash ponds at its coal-fired power plants in North Carolina.

The company also asked the N.C. Court of Appeals to freeze an order to clean up its coal ash pollution until the appeal can be heard.

From the Charlotte Business Journal:

Duke contends that if the stay is not granted “years of planning … will be eliminated, and significant material costs will be imposed on Duke Energy and its customers while this matter is pending appeal.”

And if an appellate court overturns the ruling, it argues, Duke and its customers will be harmed by a ruling that is no longer in force.

If you’re skeptical that Duke Energy has invested “years of planning” into how to better manage its toxic coal waste, well, you have every reason to be.

After all, would a company that has spent years of planning to resolve its coal ash issues pump 61 million gallons of toxic wastewater from coal ash ponds directly in to the Cape Fear River and call it “routine maintenance?”

Would a company that has spent years of planning to protect the public from high hazard coal ash ponds miss a large crack in an earthen dam holding back millions of gallons of sludge?

Or how about when the state asked Duke Energy to send it comprehensive documentation on how it plans to address its coal ash problem, and the letter Gov. McCrory and the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resource received was four-pages long? Even DENR Secretary John Skvarla called the response “inadequate.”

“There are far too many questions left unanswered and Duke Energy should provide the information we originally requested, including the estimated costs of cleanup, plans for the future and a detailed timeline,” Skvarla said.

Don’t you think a company that has spent “years of planning” on the issue of coal ash would have some of that information? Oh, and it was only last week that Duke Energy announced it had created a “task force” to review how it handles coal ash. And the company was quick to update a website with details about its Coal Plant Decommissioning Program after the Dan River spill.

CEO Lynn Good and other Duke representatives have repeatedly said the company is accountable for the Dan River spill and coal ash pollution at other plants. So why does the company seem so focused on evading its responsibility?