Where fluffy, white clouds once drifted over the soft, mossy peaks of the Blue Ridge mountains, black smoke curled around the mutilated mountainsides I explored as a girl growing up in Western North Carolina. I found the trailhead of a hike my brother and I had often enjoyed together with our dogs running ahead of us, looking back with tongues wagging before taking off like furry bullets. That familiar path was now hidden under ash, the creek that once trickled alongside now suffocated by dense sludge.
Though these horrifying images are still a nightmare for me, I’ve tightened my grip on the mountains and streams that defined me and my values. My heart lifted this morning as I scrolled through images of Greenpeace’s airship flying over Duke Energy coal plants reminding them “cleaner is cheaper.”
With the recent Duke and Progress Energy merger, Duke Energy will be the largest utility company in the nation. This title pushes Duke into an unparalleled position to lead the United States into a clean energy future. Duke CEO Jim Rogers agrees starting at an alternative energy panel in 2010, “we ‘re in a unique position in the power industry to deploy the solutions, to raise the capital and not raise the national debt, to do it at scale, and to do it in China time.” Yet Duke is not only planning on building more coal plants, but also nuclear power plants which post an unfathomable threat to the area I call home.
Our homes and health are worth protecting, and I ask you to join me in protecting the place it is that you call home. Don’t let the utility CEOs get away with turning our nightmares into realities.