Duke Energy, the largest electric-power holding company in the country, has “illegally pumped 61 million gallons of contaminated water from a coal ash pit” into the Cape Fear River near Charlotte, N.C., the eighth time in a month the company has violated environmental regulations in that state, the Associated Press reports.
The coal ash could contain “arsenic, lead, mercury and other heavy metals highly toxic to humans and wildlife,” according to the AP, although so far none of the towns surrounding the Cape Fear River have found problems with their drinking water.
Although Duke Energy’s political action committee has donated more funds to Republicans than to Democrats over the last two cycles, the company itself was a strong backer of the 2012 Democratic Convention in Charlotte. That could cause headaches for the party, which has been ratcheting up its support for new environmental protections ahead of the 2014 midterm elections. After giving millions to the party in 2012 for its convention, the company forgave a $10 million line of credit taken out by Charlotte’s host committee. Then-CEO Jim Rogers, who stepped down last year, sat on the host committee that year.
Congress voted last week to eliminate taxpayer funding for political conventions, putting more pressure on both parties to bring in donations from corporate sponsors, like Duke Energy, for 2016.
Just last month, a pipe at a separate Duke Energy plant in Eden, N.C., collapsed, dumping “at least 39,000 tons of coal ash and 27 million gallons of contaminated water” into the Dan River, according to the Los Angeles Times. A federal grand jury convened earlier this week to investigate the earlier incidents, including at Eden, which could affect local drinking water and aquatic animal life.
The company controls 15 coal-fired plants in North Carolina, South Carolina, Indiana, Florida and Kentucky.
What We're Following See More »
Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.
Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”
Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."
In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-expected primary battle behind her, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) is no longer going on the air in upcoming primary states. “Team Clinton hasn’t spent a single cent in … California, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon and West Virginia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “campaign has spent a little more than $1 million in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone backer in the Senate, said the candidate should end his presidential campaign if he’s losing to Hillary Clinton after the primary season concludes in June, breaking sharply with the candidate who is vowing to take his insurgent bid to the party convention in Philadelphia.”
The team behind the bestselling "Clinton Cash"—author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon—is turning the book into a movie that will have its U.S. premiere just before the Democratic National Convention this summer. The film will get its global debut "next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors)." Bloomberg has a trailer up, pointing out that it's "less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons."