The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Big business pollutes, surprising no one

“We will do the right thing for the river and surrounding communities,” said President of Duke Energy’s North Carolina branch Paul Newton in a statement.

Frankly, Duke’s apology is ridiculous.

The energy giant spilled coal ash into the Dan River on Feb. 2, their second chemical spill within weeks and the third largest in American history.

Clearly, Duke doesn’t care about its impact on the environment or its consumers.

“Some corporations hold environmental responsibility as a goal, while others respond only to legislation and financial costs,” said Professor of Geology and Earth Sciences and Co-Coordinator of Environmental Studies David Dobson in an email interview. “Historically, Duke Energy has been more of the latter kind of company.”

As corporations often do, Duke has taken the easier, less expensive way, putting millions of lives at risk by exposing them to toxic chemicals.

“Coal ash contains lots of toxic materials (that) can really mess with aquatic and other ecosystems,” said Dobson. “These materials can … remain in the environment for many years.”

Dan River Basin Association Program Manager Brian Williams agreed, making Duke’s promise to clean up the river invalid, seeing as how this is a problem that cannot be fixed.

“How do you clean this up?” asked Williams in an interview with New York Daily News.  “Dredge the whole river bottom for miles? You can’t clean this up.”

According to an interview with Duke in the Charlotte Observer, the broken pipe is beyond repair, as the repairmen could not access the inside.  Therefore, Duke’s promise is an empty one.

One solution would be to crack down on Duke. Restrictions placed by the Environmental Protection Agency would force compliance by Duke or the company to shut down.

Dobson, however, remains pessimistic.

“Significant regulations and economic penalties are really the only way we’re going to change this kind of activity, but I don’t see that happening any time soon,” said Dobson. “The current legislative climate in North Carolina is pro-corporation at the expense of environmental legislation.”

The reason for that may be Governor Pat McCrory’s partnership with Duke.

“Not only did the governor work for Duke Energy for some 27 years before becoming an elected official of the state, but he knowingly accepted campaign contributions from the corrupt energy giant, likely in return for future favors,” wrote Shepard Ambellas, founder, director and editor-in-chief of Intellihub News.

No wonder Duke can get away with criminal behavior — they’re backed by the government!

However, Sustainability Coordinator Bronwyn Corry believes that Duke is responding to our wants.

“We are the ones choosing to live our lives in the way that relies on fossil fuels, so we’re going to have to be the ones that shift that demand if we want to see a change,” said Corry.  “If you have a harmful substance that’s being used, you’re going to run into problems.

“Until we can shift into a lifestyle where we no longer use (fossil fuels), we’re going to continue to have these problems.”

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About the Contributor
Nicole Zelniker, Editor-in-Chief
English major, Environmental Studies and Communication minors
Nicole loves newspapers, social justice and Harry Potter.

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