John Skvarla

The Coal Ash Governor

For those who had requested it, it turns out that BackwardNC has located an interesting parody song that describes Deputy Assistant Guvnor Pat's "rise" to the undisputed title of "Coal Ash Governor", equivalently known as "The King of Coal Ash".

Pat is a very clueless person. But we knew that when we didn't vote for him. We sympathize with the ones whom Pat fooled.

Breaking: McCrory pitches coal-ash smokescreen

There's a reason they call Pat McCrory the King of Coal Ash. He loves the stuff and is doing everything he can to protect Duke Energy's interests as the ash-pond debacle plays out. So instead of choosing the right thing (moving coal ash dumps away from rivers), he's developing a complex scheme to get away with doing the wrong thing (leaving it where it is).

Plus, watch out. When a greeder like John Skvarla uses his bully pulpit to call a citizen "sophomoric," you can be sure some good old-fashioned f*ck-you customer service won't be far behind.

WRAL has the story.

Duke Energy roundup: keeping records private, shareholders upset, and Locke Foundation makes snowballs in hell

Duke Energy has filed a motion with a Federal judge asking that records requested during the Federal investigation into the company's coal ash debacle be kept from state regulators and environmental groups that had sued Duke Energy under the Clean Water Act.

Frank Holleman, senior staff attorney with the environmental law group, said Duke's motion is a stalling tactic.

"They are using the fact that they are caught up in a federal criminal investigation related to their coal ash storage as an excuse to try to postpone the enforcement of the law against them," he said. "It's exactly backward from how you think the law would operate."

Whine with that sleaze: Skvarla's back in the op-eds

Save it for the Federal investigators, pal:

Thank you for pointing out in your March 23 editorial “ Before coal ash spill, GOP was bashing environmental rules, groups” that the spill into the Dan River from Duke Energy’s 1968 coal ash pond was not the fault of the McCrory administration. How gracious.

While the McCrory administration, the EPA and others work to solve this longstanding problem, you have used it in your ongoing efforts to attack the governor. It is unfortunate for you that you must include the inconvenient fact that, while nothing was done about coal ash for decades under Democratic leadership, the McCrory administration took swift action, suing the utility over groundwater contamination and illegal discharges within 45 days of taking office.

Which, as most people in the Continental United States are now aware, was merely a ploy to limit the damages Duke Energy would have to pay from a lawsuit that was already in progress. And it also answers the question of why Duke Energy would spend so much money (over 1.1 million) to get one man elected. Sarcasm and whining might feel good, John, but it rarely (if ever) solves your problems.

Skvarla hires former Duke attorney

We believe that North Carolina has thousands of lawyers. In fact, North Carolina has our own lawyer on retainer -- he's the attorney general; his name is Roy Cooper.

Which, of course, means that Deputy Assistant Guvnor Pat has to hire his own lawyers for just about everything, because Roy wants to move into Pat's house.

So when the feds came calling with subpoenas, Pat & his McCrony John Skvarla hired a lawyer.

But this lawyer used to represent Duke Energy, the subject of all the subpoenas in the first place.

The lawyer hired to represent North Carolina's environmental agency during a federal investigation into its regulation of Duke Energy's coal ash dumps once represented the utility company in a different criminal probe.

Thousands of lawyers, and Skvarla chose Mark Calloway, who represented Duke in the past.

Add the Broad River to Duke Energy's polluted list

Once again, the riverkeepers, not DENR, inform the public.

The French Broad Riverkeeper detected high levels of arsenic in a water sample of wastewater leaking from the Cliffside Steam Station operated by Duke Energy on the Broad River.

Riverkeeper Hartwell Carson tested the water in a variety of locations along the Cliffside property at the Broad River on March 10. This week he reported arsenic at “25 times” the EPA drinking water standard in one seep just downstream from the spillway and near a retired coal ash pond which has dried out.

Trickle or gush?

Fracking, DENR and the pits

In an editorial published in the Raleigh News & Observer, Charles Ritter warns that DENR's lack of oversight could have consequences even worse than the coal ash disaster once the frackers get their turn to destroy our environment.

Fracking pits are even more dangerous than coal ash pits because:

  • Fracking fluid is more liquid than coal ash slurry and flows more easily downhill into reservoirs like Jordan Lake and the rivers that feed it.
  • The toxins and carcinogens in fracking fluid will not be disclosed per draft DENR rules, making it more difficult for emergency medical personnel to immediately treat those who are exposed.
  • The number of fracking pits in N.C. near each fracking well could easily be hundreds of times the number of coal ash pits.

Duke Energy caught in lie

61 million gallons more.

That's how much Duke Energy illegally pumped into the Cape Fear River.

Duke Energy’s temporary pumping of two coal ash ponds in Chatham County, which was discovered last week by regulators and environmentalists, illegally put 61 million gallons of wastewater into a tributary of the Cape Fear River.

This wasn't a spill, or an accident, or a failed mechanical system. This was deliberate pumping of waste into the river.

It's grand!

the jury, that is. The federal grand jury that starts its proceedings today.

In the federal court system, unlike North Carolina’s state courts, grand juries can conduct investigations as well as decide whether to indict a person or company on alleged criminal activity.

It's unclear exactly where they're going with this.

“I don’t think they’re looking deep enough myself,” [George] Mathis [co-founder of the River Guardian Foundation who worked at DENR for more than three decades] said. “Just in DENR activities themselves. There’s a lot more deals that have been made.

Pat delivers on his promises

As our Deputy Assistant Guvnor, Pat McCrony promised to make government operations more efficient and provide excellent customer service.

We argue that he's succeeded! Let's look at two of his favorite departments as examples:

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