When Big Coal Talks, You Better Listen: N.C. Governor Changes Rules On Coal Ash Toxins For Former Employer
If there is any lesson big corporations have learned in the past few decades, it’s that, if you don’t like the rules surrounding pollution, or food standards, or labor, all you have to so is install a compliant head of a regulatory agency or politician in a position of power.
The most brazen example of this pulling of strings for friends was of course that of former Vice President and Penguin cosplayer Dick Cheney. When it came to bending the will of the regulators to suit his former company–which made billions off the Iraq invasion as well as the fracking boom–Cheney went so far that a rule change was named for his company. The Halliburton Loophole was so designated because it was a clear sop to allow Halliburton to continue fracking apace without the pesky oversight of the EPA and the Safe Drinking Water Act.
But now another well-connected politico is giving Darth Cheney a run for his money in the “rules for thee but not me” department. North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory’s administration has stepped into the middle of a conflict surrounding the safety of well water nearby the coal ash pits of Duke Energy, discrediting the alarm a veteran state toxicologist has been raising.
Toxicologist Ken Rudo claimed last month that the state’s health officials acted in an unethical manner–and possibly broke the law–by telling residents living near Duke Energy’s coal ash pits that their well water is safe to drink. The fact is, according to Rudo and the state’s own testing, that it is contaminated with hexavalent chromium, a cancer-causing chemical.
Last year a standard of one chance in a million that a person drinking the contaminated water would develop cancer over the course of a lifetime was set by state agencies last year, and on the basis of that standard about 330 letters were sent to residents who lived near the coal ash sites.
Now, however, the same N.C. health regulators are saying that that standard, the one they set and by which Rudo has been warning people of the danger of their well water, is too high.
Now surely this is nothing but a weird coincidence, but Governor Pat McCrory of North Carolina was an employee of Duke Energy for about three decades before he went into politics.
Meanwhile, as a series of public back and forth letters have flown in a flurry between the governor’s office and Dr. Rudo’s attorneys, one of Rudo’s colleagues has resigned in disgust.
“I cannot work for a Department and an Administration that deliberately misleads the public,” said former state epidemiologist Dr. Megan Davies in her resignation letter.
If only it were so easy for the residents of North Carolina to retire from the advers conditions facing them.
Keep this story in mind next time you or someone you know starts bitching about how “the government” is trying to control/ruin/disrupt our lives. All government is anymore, left, right and center, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of big business. It is a shell doing the bidding of big money.
Direct your opprobrium at the right people.