Energy Company That Backed Democratic Convention Faces Another Environmental Violation

Duke Energy is accused of illegally dumping millions of gallons of contaminated water in N.C. rivers.

Former US President Bill Clinton presents a committment certificate to Jim Rogers, CEO of Duke Energy, and Anne Lauvergeon, CEO of French Nuclear Company AREVA, at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) September 24, 2008 in New York.
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Sarah Mimms
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Sarah Mimms
March 21, 2014, 12:03 p.m.

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.

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