Diary

A River of Activist Lies

Extremist activists have had to resort to lying about a North Carolina environmental spill in order to try to wring every dime they can out of a private energy company – because, of course, private energy companies are pure evil.

The Natural Resources Defense Council is trying to rally North Carolinians against Duke Energy and North Carolina politicians, the former of which was hit with big fines and penalties by both the Environmental Protection Agency and the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality for a coal ash spill in February 2014. While it was unquestionably something that needed to be addressed, Duke has complied with the EPA and NCDEQ in mitigation, cleanup, and assistance to the community in the wake of the spill.

But for the extremist activists, this isn’t enough. They want to see a company brought to heel. They want a private energy company completely broken with the force of government environmentalism. So the NRDC has teamed up with the Waterkeeper Alliance – a Robert F Kennedy-helmed environmentalist group out of New York – to scaremonger North Carolinians into trying to put pressure on their own liberal politicians and court system to wring more out of Duke. The NRDC/Waterkeeper ad now running in North Carolina markets is a mess of falsehoods, embellishments and outright lies meant to mislead North Carolinians into an extremist trap.

The ad calls coal ash “toxic” twice in twenty seconds, even though the EPA classifies coal ash as neither hazardous nor toxic, according to the EPA’s own definitions. It says 82,000 tons of coal ash were spilled; the number was less than half that. And perhaps most damning, the activist groups are scaremongering about the safety of the drinking water.

Danville, N.C. city manager Joe King said that “the drinking water has been safe all along.” The Greensboro News and Record reported that city water was found to under “a continuing series of test results showing it to be problem-free.” And more than a year ago, an EPA official involved in cleanup of the spill said that their sample testing “showed no human or ecosystem risks.”

Indeed, the EPA has been overseeing Duke Energy’s efforts to make everything right, and there have been few problems and little to indicate serious health risks.  The process of mitigation and cleanup has been quite amenable between the EPA, Duke, NCDEQ, and the other agencies and organizations involved.

But it’s not enough for the extremists. They want to make this into a much bigger, life-threatening situation. The relative stability of the cleanup has undermined their big, bad, evil corporate narrative, and so they’re resorting to falsehood to try to rile up North Carolina residents and extract payment and concession from those they regard as their enemies.

It’s important not to downplay this incident: it was serious, and every effort has been made at cleanup. But considering what happened, the response has been relatively quick and painless, and the environmental and health risks have been kept to a minimum. Drinking water has been safe for a long time, yet the NRDC feels compelled to scaremonger about it in order to get their political action items accomplished.

The Dan River coal ash spill in 2014 was a serious incident, but one that was kept largely under control by the energy company and the overseeing environmental agencies. The mitigation and legal consequences have been largely amicable, and while cleanup continues, the worst parts of the spill have been kept to a minimum. That’s not enough for extremist activists: they want to see their foes punished, and they want to make an example out of this case. That’s why they feel compelled to mislead the public as to the current risks and to what actually happened. Hopefully, North Carolinians will be able to place their trust in the processes, and know the truth for themselves, that they won’t be scaremongered by an environmentalist campaign of fear. Unfortunately for those activists, the truth is the best defense.