ASHEVILLE – About a dozen community leaders met with Duke Energy representatives [on Nov. 20] to deliver more than 5,500 petitions from Asheville area residents who want the company to transition off fossil fuels in the region.
The petitions, linked together to form a 116-foot long scroll, urge the company to transition from burning coal at the Asheville coal plant and to invest in homegrown clean energy solutions.
Duke Energy’s Asheville coal plant is the largest single source of carbon pollution that drives climate change in Western North Carolina.
Pollution from the coal plant is also leaking into the French Broad River, says Riverkeeper Hartwell Carson, who was on hand to deliver the petitions.
“Duke’s toxic coal ash problem is another important reason why Asheville needs this plant replaced with clean energy solutions,” Carson said. “The only way to permanently address toxic coal ash waste is to stop burning coal. That’s why we’re out here today, delivering the signatures of more than 5,000 Asheville residents who want real action.”
Toxic coal ash pollution not only harms local ecosystems, but has been found to have contaminated a local drinking water well near the coal ash sites. The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources has filed to sue the company for its illegal pollution in the French Broad River.
Councilman Cecil Bothwell also attended today’s petition delivery. “We need to urge Duke to speed our transition from coal-fired power,” Bothwell said.
Asheville City Council passed a resolution in late October calling on Duke Energy to partner with the city in moving from fossil fuels to clean energy. This partnership was created in the spirit of helping the city reach its carbon reduction goals.
“North Carolina is now fourth in the country for installed solar capacity,” said Erika Schneider, director of communications at Sundance Power Systems. “Our state is a leader and our region can be a leader, too. Duke Energy only has to look around to find companies and people ready to power our homes and business with clean, local energy made right here.”
The Asheville Beyond Coal campaign launched in April 2012 to protect our environment and communities from the dangers of coal, including climate disruption. The Western North Carolina Alliance, North Carolina Interfaith Power and Light, Southwings, Riverkeeper and the Sierra Club are proud to be founding members of the Asheville Beyond Coal Coalition.
Nationwide, 155 coal-fired power plants have been locked in for retirement since 2010, and 180 new coal plant proposals have been canceled since 2001. At the same time, clean energy like wind and solar are powering millions of homes and businesses.
Learn more at www.ashevillebeyondcoal.org.