The Waterkeeper Alliance on the move:
Peter Harrison has an enviable life: He spends a lot of time in a boat, exploring the waterways of North Carolina. Peter Harrison also has an interesting life: Other boats sometimes follow his, with huge cameras pointed in his direction, shutters clicking away.
“It’s just intimidation,” Harrison says. The people with cameras tend to be security guards for Duke Energy, the state’s largest electricity provider, and a company that Harrison spends a lot of time investigating.
If Duke Energy spent half the time watching their potential sources of pollution as they do watching the watchers, the need for people like Peter wouldn't be as critical. Then again, if you're really not concerned about what damage you do to the environment accidentally, or if you do so intentionally to help you manage the volume of your wastes, stopping people like Peter becomes the top priority:
Once they saw the photo, Harrison and a group of other riverkeepers took a boat up the canal to take water samples near where it looked like the dumping was going on. On their way back, they were met by the local deputy sheriff, who had been called by the plant’s security guards. This was not an unusual event; in one case, two Waterkeepers on the factory farm detail were nearly arrested after a farmer saw them sampling a stream and reported them to state police as methamphetamine manufacturers.
The group showed the sheriff their IDs and let them go with a warning. But the next day the same deputy called Harrison to tell him that Duke Energy was going to arrest him for trespassing if he returned to the canal; the company had reviewed some old maps and believed the canal was private property. Duke was wrong in their interpretation of state law — as Harrison puts it, “If you can float a boat on it, it’s public” — but it took a politely worded attorney’s letter and a consultation with the county attorney before the sheriff agreed.
Sort of reminds me of the bad old days when a mine or mill owner wielded strong influence over local law enforcement entities and used them to keep the workforce and irascible landowners in line. The thing is, often state government would come to the rescue in those situations, but Duke Energy has its fingers in that pie, as well.