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The Voice of the Black Community

Local & State

Activists take Duke Energy to task over fossil fuels policy
Health and economic impacts cited
 
Published Friday, May 5, 2017 1:05 am
by Herbert L. White

PHOTO/HERBERT L. WHITE
Activists protested outside Duke Energy's headquarters in Charlotte Thursday in response to the utility's investments in fossil fuels and monopoly on marketing alternative energy sources.

Duke Energy’s neighbors protested the utility’s reliance on fossil fuels as harmful to low-income communities.

Activists from 10 community organizations gathered outside Duke’s Charlotte headquarters Thursday to slam the company’s proposed fracked gas pipeline, which would run through Robeson County, one of North Carolina’s poorest and most racially-diverse areas. The protest was held while Duke officials held their first ever online-only annual meeting, which barred direct interaction with CEO Lynn Good and the board of directors.

“The best way to deal with air and water pollution from coal ash and fracked gas is to switch to clean, affordable energy like solar,” said Hanna Mitchell, an organizer with Greenpeace. “We are at an energy crossroads and Duke must not lock our state into dangerous and unnecessary pipelines and gas plants.”

Duke is co-owner of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which would transport shale gas from the Marcellus reserves in West Virginia to eastern North Carolina. The pipeline, which is under review by the Federal Energy Regulatory Council, would cut through some of North Carolina’s poorest communities, populated disproportionately by African Americans, Native Americans and Latinos.

“Duke Energy wants to build a fracked-gas pipeline through the land where my family lives and I grew up,” said Jorden Revels, UNC-Pembroke student from Prospect in Robeson County, the end point of Atlantic Coast Pipeline. “These are the lands where I was born and raised, the rivers where I learned how to fish and swim, the fields where I ran around as a kid. I don’t want future generations to miss out on its beauty.”

The Rev. Nelson Johnson, a civil rights activist and minister at Faith Community Church in Greensboro, criticized Duke’s monopoly on energy in the state, particularly its reluctance to provide cheaper alternatives to fossil fuels.

“It’s clear that Duke is planning to invest in gas at the expense of rooftop solar to maintain its monopoly control over the energy market in North Carolina,” said Johnson, whose church converted to solar power. “We have been fighting Duke’s ban on no-money-down solar options for almost two years, because we know that renewable energy is cleaner and cheaper for our congregation.” 

Duke critic Debra Baker of Belmont, whose well water has been contaminated by the utility’s coal ash pits, said Duke still hasn’t complied with state law that mandates it provide residents near coal ash dumps permanent supplies of clean water.

“In the past, we have been able to speak directly to the board about the coal ash crisis that our neighborhood is facing,” said Baker, leader of Alliance of Carolinians Together Against Coal Ash. “How much longer must we wait for clean water? We haven’t heard anything from Duke Energy. My neighbors and I have been living off of bottled water for over two years now.” 

Pascha Moore, a part-time fast-food worker in Durham and activist with Raise Up for 15, said lower-income residents who struggle to put food on the table fear they’ll have to pay for Duke’s coal ash cleanup.

“We pay for Duke’s dirty energy every month through our bills, and we pay for it with our health too,” she said. “Duke Energy’s toxic coal ash has been contaminating communities across the state for decades. The least they could do is foot the bill for cleanup costs.”

 

Comments

Thank you for speaking out. I have been an activists my whole life. I have been tot he coal ash hearings and support Greenpeace actions for Solar, which the school board and our total community. Thank you again for speaking up and being present. I am with you.
Posted on May 5, 2017
 

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