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Coal Ash Spill Leaves Most North Carolina Voters Craving Stronger Environmental Leadership
After polling North Carolina voters for three days, the Sierra Club and Hart Research Associates concluded that residents lack confidence in their state leaders after Duke Energy's coal ash spill in February.
Nearly three-quarters of voters say the incident makes them want stronger regulations and enforcement from future candidates, and the results show no difference along partisan lines.
As Hart began conducting the survey on March 10, the Waterkeeper Alliance flew over the Duke Energy Cape Fear Plant, snapping photos of workers pumping wastewater from the company's coal ash pond into a canal that drains into the Cape Fear River. Since the Cape Fear River provides drinking water for residents in Fayetteville, Sanford and several other communities, one can only imagine how much higher the figures would be if the survey was conducted today.
"This North Carolina coal spill has been a wake up call for voters about the need to protect our water from toxic coal pollution," said Mary Anne Hitt, director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign. "This poll is yet another indication that Republicans, Democrats and Independents in coal-dependent states want leaders who will stand up to big coal companies and enact common-sense initiatives to protect our air, our water and our families from toxic coal ash and pollution.”
Even though 70 percent of respondents say that Duke Energy is "mostly" to blame for the spill and 90 percent say the company should clean up all coal ash sites in the state, it's clear they think more emphasis on the environment from politicians would help. Here are some other highlights from the survey's results:
70 percent of voters polled say they would be more likely to support a candidate who “ favors strong regulations and enforcement ... to prevent future spills.” These include the majority of Democrats (87 percent), independents (69 percent) and Republicans (55 percent). Only 17 percent said they would be more likely to support a candidate who says that having more regulations and enforcement will hurt jobs and the state’s economy.
Coal ash regulation proposals garnered strong support from all parties— at least 60 percent of voters strongly supporting each of three initiatives.
57 percent of those polled say “stronger regulation and enforcement” could have prevented the spill; 69 percent say other serious incidents like this will occur unless some action is taken.
83 percent of North Carolina voters polled want coal ash to be regulated as a hazardous substance
“North Carolinians are sick of paying the cost for Duke Energy’s failures and the Dan River spill is the last straw," said Kelly Martin, senior campaign representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign in North Carolina.
"Clear majorities across the aisle want policy and politicians who will hold Duke accountable and act to protect our water and prevent another coal ash spill."
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'We Should Be Retreating Already From the Coastline,' Scientist Suggests After Finding Warm Waters Below Greenland
By Johnny Wood
The Ganges is a lifeline for the people of India, spiritually and economically. On its journey from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal, it supports fishermen, farmers and an abundance of wildlife.
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Here are some of the challenges the river faces.
By Jake Johnson
As a growing number of states move to pass laws that would criminalize pipeline protests and hit demonstrators with years in prison, an audio recording obtained by The Intercept showed a representative of a powerful oil and gas lobbying group bragging about the industry's success in crafting anti-protest legislation behind closed doors.
Speaking during a conference in Washington, DC in June, Derrick Morgan, senior vice president for federal and regulatory affairs at the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), touted "model legislation" that states across the nation have passed in recent months.
AFPM represents a number of major fossil fuel giants, including Chevron, Koch Industries and ExxonMobil.
"We've seen a lot of success at the state level, particularly starting with Oklahoma in 2017," said Morgan, citing Dakota Access Pipeline protests as the motivation behind the aggressive lobbying effort. "We're up to nine states that have passed laws that are substantially close to the model policy that you have in your packet."
Big Oil is now using its political power to try and criminalize protests of oil & gas infrastructure.— Friends of the Earth (@foe_us) August 19, 2019
"This legislation has potential to punish public participation and mischaracterize advocacy protected by the First Amendment."https://t.co/bmiHjONEhy
The audio recording comes just months after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law legislation that would punish anti-pipeline demonstrators with up to 10 years in prison, a move environmentalists condemned as a flagrant attack on free expression.
"Big Oil is hijacking our legislative system," Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network said after the Texas Senate passed the bill in May.
As The Intercept's Lee Fang reported Monday, the model legislation Morgan cited in his remarks "has been introduced in various forms in 22 states and passed in ... Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana, Iowa, South Dakota, and North Dakota."
"The AFPM lobbyist also boasted that the template legislation has enjoyed bipartisan support," according to Fang. "In Louisiana, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the version of the bill there, which is being challenged by the Center for Constitutional Rights. Even in Illinois, Morgan noted, 'We almost got that across the finish line in a very Democratic-dominated legislature.' The bill did not pass as it got pushed aside over time constraints at the end of the legislative session."
Many of the state bills restricting the right to protest have been "drafted by companies and passed through groups like ALEC, the secretive group of corporate lobbyists trying to rewrite state laws to benefit corporations over people." @greenpeaceusa https://t.co/ZxpTjWdrwT— Stand Up To ALEC (@StandUpToALEC) May 6, 2019
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.