Who should pay to clean up Duke Energy’s coal ash ponds? Those who have profited from Duke’s growth.
Under CEO Jim Rogers’ nimble and aggressive leadership, Duke Power engineered a merger with Progress Energy to become the largest electric utility in the country. And how did this merger affect Duke shareholders? From March 3, 2011, to March 3, 2014, the value of Duke stock rose from $54.24 to $70.05 a share while Duke’s dividends rose from 24.5 cents a share to 78 cents a share.
Did Duke’s coal-burning plants and their associated coal ash ponds come at high cost to our environment? Undeniably. When asked about Duke’s Riverbend coal ash pond in a 2013 interview, even Rogers conceded, “We’ll ultimately end up cleaning up all that.”
But besides the fact that Duke shareholders have profited handsomely from investments in a polluting power company, there’s another reason we should pay for the cleanup. We drink the water and breathe the air. As Tom Lehrer reminds us, “So what if you can buy the finest toothpaste if you then rinse your mouth with industrial waste?”
Duke Energy shareholder