Wednesday, April 1st
Asheville, NC – In response to the North Carolina Division of Air Quality (DAQ) ruling that Duke Energy’s Cliffside coal plant is a “minor source of emissions”, 30 protesters gathered at noon today outside Governor Perdue’s Western North Carolina office in downtown Asheville to demand that she revoke the plant’s permit.
In a demonstration organized by Asheville Rising Tide, protesters set up a bed in front of Governor Perdue’s office with people in business suits representing Duke CEO Jim Rogers, DAQ head Keith Overcash, and Governor Perdue under sheets and covered in money. Banners reading, “Governor Purdue in bed with Duke Energy” and “Stop Cliffside” were held in the background. Protestors also roped off the office entrance with Global Warming Crime Scene tape.
While Beverly Perdue publicly opposed Cliffside during her campaign for the Governorship, following the DAQ’s ruling she sent out a press release defending the decision to classify Duke’s new coal plant as a “minor emitter.” A report released last month by the Civil Society Institute found that Duke Energy contributed nearly $30,000 to Gov. Purdue’s election campaign and $40,000 to Lt. Governor Walter Dalton. Since the report was released there have been calls for corruption inquiries into the relations between Duke Energy and Purdue. “We know who Governor Purdue and the DAQ are taking their marching orders from,” stated Jill Walker of Asheville Rising Tide. “With this ruling it is clear that they are more interested in protecting Duke’s bottom line than the health of North Carolinians.”
Throughout Duke’s application process, the DAQ, controlled by the Governor’s office, has consistently showed favoritism to the industry they are charged with regulating, at the expense of public health, water conservation, and attempts to curb climate change. “It is absurd that the DAQ could rule that the dirty Cliffside coal plant, which will emit millions of tons of pollutants each year, including greenhouse gases, mercury and other heavy metals, could even be considered a minor source of emissions,” stated local farmer Tobias Wolfe. “Still, it is not too late for Governor Perdue to do the right thing for the people of North Carolina and call for the cancellation of Cliffside.”
Today’s protest was part of an international day of action called Fossil Fools Day (www.fossilfoolsday.org) that calls for an end to fossil fuel extraction and consumption. Duke Energy is the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the US; if completed, the Cliffside plant would emit over 6 million tons of CO2 every year. According to the UN’s International Panel on Climate Change we have only 6 years to begin reducing emissions in order to avoid catastrophic climate change. There has been growing opposition to the Cliffside coal plant both in North Carolina and nationwide. Last year, NASA’s chief climatologist James Hansen, called on Jim Rogers to cancel the plant.
Asheville Rising Tide is a member of the Stop Cliffside Coalition (www.stopcliffside.org), a coalition of faith-based,social and environmental groups organizing a mass rally and civil disobedience at Duke Energy’s headquarters April 20th.