Roundup: Carolina Coal Ash

North Carolina polluters get fined • Paying for political power in rural Georgia • Recruiting workers to small towns • And more!


fining Duke Energy for contaminating groundwater around a retired power plant near Wilmington. Leeching from unlined coal-ash pits has been occurring for years, reports the Associated Press:

A letter sent to Duke [Power] says monitoring wells near dumps showed readings exceeding state groundwater standards for boron, thallium, selenium, iron, manganese and other chemicals. Thallium is a highly toxic poison.

In a separate incident in February, a Duke Energy coal-ash spill polluted 70 miles of the Dan River on the North Carolina-Virginia border. That led to passage, earlier this month, of a new law to help regulate coal-ash and clean up toxic waste generated by coal-fired power plants.

Gov. Pat McCrory (R) says he will likely sign the legislation, even though he says it unconstitutionally sets up a commission where a majority of members are appointed by the Legislature. The governor, not a legislatively appointed commission, should oversee enforcement of the coal-ash rules, McCrory said

McCrory retired from Duke Energy in 2008 after working for the utility for 29 years. “The electricity company's executives have remained generous in supporting his political campaigns,” reports Michael Biesecker of the Associated press.


Also from North Carolina, the Raleigh News & Observer chastises the governor and Legislature for failing to take up a report on a rural health crisis in the state:

The task force report does more than describe the health of rural North Carolina. It makes the link between government support, economic development and wellness. It makes it clear that the actions taken by the General Assembly are not just matters of politics or policy. They’re matters of life and death.


Finally from the Tar Heel State, North Carolina is moving away from using regional development groups to recruit employers. The McCrory’s administration is using “privately led recruitment model,” reports WRAL TV. “Some leaders in rural areas worry that could create a greater economic divide between the haves and the have-nots,” reports the Raleigh television station.


Alison Lotto has joined Vision Maker Media as an archives specialist. A big part of Lotto’s job will be cataloging and organizing media the organization has created and collected over its 38-year history.


If rural America is losing political muscle, somebody needs to tell the folks in Washington County, Georgia.

Blogger Katherine Helms Cummings outlines the political donations and state board appointments of folks connected with the Tarbutton family from Washington County. The county of 21,000 residents is located east of Macon.

 “People may think Atlanta is the center of power in Georgia, but it seems to tilt towards Washington County and the checkbooks of a few campaign donors,” Cummings writes in Rural and Progressive.