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(Photo: Eric Chance, Appalachian Voices)

(Photo: Eric Chance, Appalachian Voices)

North Carolina’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary John Skvarla presided over an hour-long press conference today in which he and some of his staff tried to put the best possible face on the ongoing Duke Energy coal ash disaster. WRAL.com will have a video of the entire event up online shortly.

While a fleet of journalists are still sifting through all of the statements and answers to their questions, it’s hard to see how Skvarla — whose main claim seemed to be that he’s been doing everything in his power on the coal ash issue, including, he said, partnering with environmental advocacy groups — helped himself very much.

The bottom line on the whole mess remains unchanged:

  1. There’s an ongoing environmental catastrophe in the state.
  2. The agency in charge of protecting the environment has been slashed and demoralized by the Governor and his Secretary.
  3. The Secretary has, contrary to his claims of “partnership,” Read More

Subpoenas released today by the Department of the Environment and Natural Resouces show that the U.S. Attorney in Raleigh is expanding its criminal investigation of the coal ash spill at Duke Energy’s Dan River plant to include spills at other company plants across the state,  and has identified individuals whose testimony it is requiring before the grand jury on March 18-20.

The subpoena expanding the investigation, dated yesterday, appears below:

By  subpoenas dated Feb. 11 (see below) and directed to a number of individuals, the U.S. Attorney is seeking both testimony before the  grand jury and documents each individual may have, including documents regarding anything of value each may have received from Duke Energy and Progress Energy since 2009.

A story in this morning’s Charlotte Observer makes the answer pretty obvious:

Duke Energy hit its 2013 earnings target on the strength of its merger with Progress Energy, higher customer rates and a strong finish to the year.

Profits of $2.7 billion for the year earned $3.76 a share, compared with the $1.8 billion and $3.07 a share in 2012, Duke said Tuesday.

Adjusted for one-time items, earnings were $4.35 a share, at the midpoint of Duke’s target range and ahead of analysts’ estimates. That’s up from $4.32 a year ago.”

Read the entire story by clicking here.

Coal ashDon’t get shut out of next week’s NC Policy Watch Crucial Conversation — “Duke’s Dan River coal ash disaster: What happened? How big is the problem? What’s next?” The event will feature two of the state’s leading experts on the subject:  Clean water advocate Amy Adams of the group Appalachian Voices and State Rep. Pricey Harrison.

When: Thursday, February 27 at 12 noon – Box lunches will be available at 11:45 a.m.

Where: *(NOTE—NEW LOCATION)* The North Carolina Association of Educators Building, 700 S. Salisbury St. in Raleigh. This location feature on-site parking.

Space is limited – pre-registration required.

Click here to register

Questions?? Contact Rob Schofield at 919-861-2065 or rob@ncpolicywatch.com

John SkvarlaRaleigh’s News & Observer reports this morning that North Carolina DENR Secretary John Skvarla “bristled” yesterday at questions about his agency’s relationship with Duke Energy and the non-clean-up of coal ash ponds and dumps that the two parties have overseen.  This seems like an accurate description — Skvarla seemed visibly agitated in his testimony before the Environmental Review Commission — and not terribly surprising for a man whose agency was served with subpoenas in federal criminal investigation.

While perhaps understandable for a man in Skvarla’s predicament, it’s difficult to see, however, just how lashing out at critics is going to change things for him anytime soon. When you’ve premised 13 months of leadership Read More