Editorials

Duke Energy should back off its push for AP’s source

Dale Beck, 68, of Belmont lives across the street on Wildlife Road from an old coal ash pond at Duke's Allen plant that has been covered with dirt. Beck relies on well water and worries about contamination from ash seeping into groundwater.
Dale Beck, 68, of Belmont lives across the street on Wildlife Road from an old coal ash pond at Duke's Allen plant that has been covered with dirt. Beck relies on well water and worries about contamination from ash seeping into groundwater. jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com

Duke Energy has acted with more urgency to get to the source of the latest unflattering story about coal ash ponds than it did to solve the problems with the ponds themselves.

There seems little point in Duke’s legal move to try to find out the Associated Press source for a deposition transcript quoted in a story that embarrassed the administration of Gov. Pat McCrory, a former Duke employee. In that transcript, state toxicologist Dr. Ken Rudo claimed that McCrory was involved in a meeting in which the governor’s aides wanted to change the wording of a “do not drink” letter sent to homeowners living near coal ash ponds around North Carolina. The ponds, disposal sites for Duke Energy coal ash, came to prominence in 2014 with a massive spill in the Dan River.

After sending a “do not drink” letter in 2015, state agencies under McCrory sent another letter in early 2016 telling residents their water was safe to drink.

McCrory and his aides say Rudo is lying in the deposition. But rather than firing accusations at him, why don’t Duke and McCrory’s office just come to the public with all pertinent records of conversations and speak candidly about the entire issue? And what’s the purpose, other than intimidation and potentially legal revenge, for Duke’s attempting to dig out the source of a leaked transcript? Doesn’t the company realize this kind of action makes it look like a corporate bully and, by the way, focuses even more attention on its coal ash problem?

As for McCrory, he should be standing for openness in all dealings and should not appear to be first and foremost supporting his former employer. He works for the public now. His service to them is his first priority. Unfortunately, once again the governor appears to put his own political standing before all else.

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