Sunday, July 12, 2015

Coal Ash Wars and Corporate Snakes

Photo by Martha Girolami


Some omens wake us up.  Still
half-asleep, I enter the coop to feed
the hens and discover a huge black
snake coiled inches from the chicks
under their heat lamp.  I take a rake
and urge the big hens outside, lock 
the chicken door, raise the door to 
the room where the chicks cower 
in the corner and the snake takes 
its ease.  I rake it out and shut that 
door, then open the people door to 
force it outside.  It disappears into
the straw, and I assume it left the way 
it entered. Then i sprinkle lime around
outside of the coop.  It ate two chicks.
I feed and water the fourteen left, and
gradually they resume their normal
cheeping mode.  That night, closing
them up, again under their heat lamp,
I find the snake cozily coiled in a 
nesting box.  I rake it out and it again
slips in with the babies.  Angry now,
I rake it out.  One chick runs out,
and I slip her in my raincoat pocket.
The snake begins climbing, tries all
its tricks, but, frantic now, adrenalin
pumping, heart pounding, I hit the
snake, finally lifting it out of the coop.
Where it lies in the dirt, I stab it again
and again with the rake’s tines.  Finally
it flows into the bamboo grass where
once grew parsley.  I replace the chick
and refresh their water and feed.  The
big hens had fled to the top of the
chick room and watched me fight
their deadly enemy.  The babe lies
still.  Did I smother her? Exhausted,
I return to the house, calm myself.  I’ve
done all I can.  Did I save all fourteen
chicks?  Did the snake die or only get
indigestion?  The coal ash mover
and shaker Charah had rented the
empty building in our village.  How
like the snake coiled among the chicks.
Will I need my rake again for this
corporate snake?  I’ll need my words,
my ingenuity, and my courage.  A 
different war but the goal is the same:
save what is precious and threatened:
our community. Fight. Hope.  
Love each other.

*** On July 6, 2015 our local environmental groups, Chatham Citizens Against Coal Ash Dump, EnvironmentaLEE, and Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League began our legal challenge of two permits issued by our N.C. Dept of Environment and Natural resources (DENR).  We go to law to defend ourselves from harm from 12 million tons of coal ash being shipped into our two communities in Brickhaven (southeast Chatham) and Colon Road (northern Lee County).
Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League         4617 Pearl Rd Raleigh NC 27610             (919) 345-3673                                              

July 6, 2015

Groups File Legal Challenge to Duke Energy’s Coal Ash Dumping Plans
Raleigh- Charging that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) acted arbitrarily and capriciously by issuing permits for two proposed coal ash dumps in Lee and Chatham Counties, the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL), Chatham Citizens Against Coal Ash Dump (CCACAD), and EnvironmentaLEE (ELEE) filed a petition for a contested case hearing with the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) today.
BREDL community organizer Therese Vick stated “Communities targeted for coal ash disposal deserve a regulatory agency that has their best interests at heart, not what is in the best interest of Duke Energy. DENR had sufficient reason to deny the permits, and they did not.” CCACAD president Judy Hogan commented on the challenge filed today saying, “We are very happy to have filed this appeal to challenge the mining and solid waste permits which DENR released without paying attention to its own rules to protect us.” Debbie Hall, vice-president of ELEE explained why they felt this step was necessary, We chose to join in the complaint because we believe that any citizen who feels an action will significantly impact their lives in a negative way has the right to oppose that action.  We still believe in grassroots efforts, and that those efforts can make a difference in the outcome.                                                                    
Issues raised in the petition include:
·         The actions allowed by the permits would have a significant and adverse impact on the health and well-being of the members of the petitioners, and  on their families, the use and enjoyment of their property, the value of their property and other economic interests. 
·         DENR’s issuance of the Permit has substantially prejudiced the rights of the Petitioners and their members. By issuing the permits, the state agencies exceeded their authority or jurisdiction; acted erroneously; failed to use proper procedure; acted arbitrarily or capriciously; and failed to act as required by law or rule. 
·         The proposed sites are solid waste landfills, rather than mine reclamation projects, and should be regulated as such.
·         The requirements for compliance with other laws for the protection of the environment should be examined for all of corporate partners of Green Meadow, LLC.
·         Environmental Justice: DENR did not investigate, or require the applicants to investigate, the cumulative impacts on the communities.

            According to John Runkle, attorney for the plaintiffs, the petition was filed to “ensure that all regulations are complied with." Filing a petition for a contested case through the Office of Administrative Hearings is the first step in challenging an agency decision.

The Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League was founded in 1984. The organization has a thirty-year track record of victories over polluting facilities.
Chatham Citizens Against Coal Ash Dump was founded in December 2014 in opposition to Duke Energy’s plan to dump coal ash in the county.
EnvironmentaLEE was founded in 2011.  ELEE works to protect the environment of Lee County.



Our NC state government allowed Duke Energy, our only electricity generating power company, to ignore local governments. Ours in Chatham, unfortunately, felt powerless and signed an agreement with Duke, which gives them some leverage after it’s here.  We find that unacceptable and are glad Diana Hales and Karen Howard voted against it. We intend to stop it by all available means, including civil disobedience if need be. We are raising money to pay our wonderful lawyer.  We need help wherever you live, if you imagine our plight here and want to help.  This is genocide, and we won’t stand it.  Stand with us and contribute whatever you can.  No amount is too small.  There’s a web way to give: . On this one you can be a anonymous.   These gifts are tax-deductible as we are a chapter of BREDL and tax-exempt 501-C-3. We’d be very grateful for your help.  We are not a rich community here in Moncure. Thanks, Judy Hogan


Another photo by Martha Girolami, who also made the sign.

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