Quantcast

Coal Ash Spill Leaves Most North Carolina Voters Craving Stronger Environmental Leadership

Energy

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.

The majority of North Carolina voters would support a candidate who “favors strong regulations and enforcement...to prevent future spills," as a result of the Duke Energy coal ash spill. Photo credit: Donna Lisenby

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.

On March 10, Waterkeeper Alliance conducted an airplane flyover of the ash impoundments at the Duke Energy Cape Fear Plant. Photographs show Duke personnel using a portable water pump to empty its 1985 coal ash pond. The plant's Clean Water Act permit only authorizes discharges when the pond level overtops the vertical discharge pipe visible in the photo, in order to reduce discharges of toxic solids in the effluent. Photo credit Waterkeeper Alliance

"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." 

———

Related Content:

Breaking: Duke Energy Coal Ash Spill Pollutes River and Threatens Drinking Water

Duke Energy Caught Dumping Wastewater from Coal Ash Lagoon Into Local Watershed

North Carolina Regulators Take Legal Action Against Duke Energy for Coal Ash Dumping

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A timelapse video shows synthetic material and baby fish collected from a plankton sample from a surface slick taken off Hawaii island. Honolulu Star-Advertiser / YouTube screenshot

A team of researchers led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration didn't intend to study plastic pollution when they towed a tiny mesh net through the waters off Hawaii's West Coast. Instead, they wanted to learn more about the habits of larval fish.

Read More Show Less
Two silver-backed chevrotain caught on camera trap. The species has only recently been rediscovered after being last seen in 1990. GWC / Mongabay

By Jeremy Hance

VIETNAM, July 2019 – I'm chasing a ghost, I think not for the first time, as night falls and I gather up my gear in a hotel in a village in southern Vietnam. I pack my camera, a bottle of water, and a poncho; outside the window I can see a light rain.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Flooding in New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina on Sept. 11, 2005. NOAA Photo Library / Lieut. Commander Mark Moran

The most destructive hurricanes are three times more frequent than they were a century ago, new research has found, and this can be "unequivocally" linked to the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less

By George Citroner

The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion and the World Health Organization currently recommend either 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise (walking, gardening, doing household chores) or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise (running, cycling, swimming) every week.

But there's little research looking at the benefits, if any, of exercising less than the 75 minute minimum.

Read More Show Less
Mary Daly, president of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank, poses for a photograph. Nick Otto / Washington Post / Getty Images

It seems the reality of the climate crisis is too much for the Federal Reserve to ignore anymore.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

Passengers trying to reach Berlin's Tegel Airport on Sunday were hit with delays after police blocked roads and enacted tighter security controls in response to a climate protest.

Read More Show Less
A military police officer in Charlotte, North Carolina, pets Rosco, a post-traumatic stress disorder companion animal certified to accompany him, on Jan. 11, 2014. North Carolina National Guard

For 21 years, Doug Distaso served his country in the United States Air Force.

He commanded joint aviation, maintenance, and support personnel globally and served as a primary legislative affairs lead for two U.S. Special Operations Command leaders.

But after an Air Force plane accident left him with a traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and chronic pain, Distaso was placed on more than a dozen prescription medications by doctors at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Read More Show Less
(L) Selma Three Stone Engagement Ring. (R) The Greener Diamond Farm Project. MiaDonna

By Bailey Hopp

If you had to choose a diamond for your engagement ring from below or above the ground, which would you pick … and why would you pick it? This is the main question consumers are facing when picking out their diamond engagement ring today. With a dramatic increase in demand for conflict-free lab-grown diamonds, the diamond industry is shifting right before our eyes.

Read More Show Less