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Coal Ash spill protest
Protesters respond to February's
 Duke Energy coal ash spill.
The 82,000-ton coal ash spill into the Dan River in North Carolina last month spurred media digging into the cozy relationship between state regulators and corporations, and now has caught the spotlight. The latest, according to the Associated Press:
North Carolina regulators have cited five more Duke Energy power plants for lacking required storm water permits after a massive spill at one of the company’s coal ash dumps coated 70 miles of the Dan River in toxic sludge. [...]

State regulators indicated they had been aware since at least 2011 that some Duke facilities lacked the required storm water permits, yet took no enforcement action until after last month’s disaster.

In fact, they took no enforcement action until three days after the AP filed a request to see Duke’s storm water permit for the Dan River plant.

It would be charitable to call this just another failure of a toothless regulator. But that's not the reality. What's actually going on is political favoritism for the state's coal industry in general, and Duke Energy in particular. The problem predates the arrival of Republican Patrick McCrory in the governor's mansion in 2012. But McCrory worked for Duke for 28 years and he still behaves as if he is on the payroll.

More on the spill in North Carolina below the fold.

Trip Gabriel at The New York Times reported:

“The General Assembly doesn’t like you,” an official in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources told supervisors called to a drab meeting room here. “They cut your budget, but you didn’t get the message. And they cut your budget again, and you still didn’t get the message.”

From now on, regulators were told, they must focus on customer service, meaning issuing environmental permits for businesses as quickly as possible. Big changes are coming, the official said, according to three people in the meeting, two of whom took notes. “If you don’t like change, you’ll be gone.”

But it's not just McCrory. And not just North Carolina. Republicans across the country, and way too many Democratic enablers, have long battled environmental, safety and health regulators. Legislators in Idaho and Arizona want to nullify Environmental Protection Agency regulations based on faulty constitutional interpretations about the Tenth Amendment.

What they're really saying is that the health and well-being of people and the environment are less important than the demands of corporations. There are plenty of descriptions we can attach to such leaders. But besides @#!!%& and #8&@¡, the ones that ought to be applied are "fired," "fined" and "jailed."

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 11:50 AM PST.

Also republished by North Carolina BLUE and Daily Kos.

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