We small fish need protection

April 3, 2014

To the editor:

For skeptics like me, who have never had much confidence in governmental environmental protection, the recent Duke Energy coal ash pollution in the Dan River reinforces my impressions.

The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources has been accused of a “sweetheart deal” with Duke concerning enforcing pollution standards.

If the state has standards and doesn’t enforce them for one reason or another, what good are standards?

Try dumping the gray water from your house into a ditch in Richmond County and see how quickly you will be made to cease such action. You won’t get any of Duke’s sweetheart deals in Richmond County.

Fortunately Duke Energy burns only natural gas, or fuel oil, in its Richmond County plant.

If the state won’t evenly enforce U.S. EPA regulations for Duke’s — or anyone’s — coal ash dumping, what guarantees will we have with shale fracking standards now being developed that they will be enforced?

Why should you or I care? Because even if polluters are fined, the long-term costs of cleanup and damage of pollution are most often borne by the taxpayers in one form or another. For example, take the Macon Farms pollution cleanup in the Cordova area, if anyone remembers.

Environmental protection is one instance where big government matters — if it can convince skeptics like me that we can trust it — in protecting us small fish in the pond.

Tom MacCallum