Here’s some Sierra Club news that might be of interest to you this morning.

Sierra Club launches ads against Duke Energy

Manuel Quiñones, E&E reporter

Published: Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Sierra Club will begin airing two television ads today criticizing Duke Energy Corp. for its response to a large spill in February at the utility’s coal ash pond on North Carolina’s Dan River and for the company’s continued reliance on coal.

Duke has apologized for the spill of more than 30,000 tons of waste into the river, but environmentalists accuse the company of failing to swiftly start closing ash dumps.

“Coal ash pollution threatens our drinking water, rivers, lakes and streams. Yet Duke Energy still hasn’t shown the leadership North Carolina needs,” said one of the club’s ads, which is airing in the Charlotte and Asheville markets.

The Sierra Club is reviving another 30-second spot from last year that focuses on the Asheville market and touts the area’s renewable energy focus.

“Sadly, Duke Energy’s Asheville coal plant looms over the French Broad River, threatening our community with carbon pollution and toxic coal ash,” said the ad.

Environmental groups and their allies see the February ash spill as an opening to make their case against coal and what they feel is lax state oversight.

The new ads come as Duke Energy shareholders gather for their annual meeting in Charlotte. The group is also touting a candlelight vigil and an open letter from North Carolina faith leaders.

Also this week, the environmental group Appalachian Voices released a video featuring North Carolina residents living near Duke coal power facilities. They accuse the company of contributing to illnesses in the community.

Last month, the Sierra Club ran print and online ads in response to the coal ash spill (Greenwire, March 17). The Natural Resources Defense Council ran television ads at around the same time.

This week, Duke released its sustainability report for 2013 and focused significantly on the coal ash spill and power plant issues, including touting newer and cleaner plants.

“While we have made many meaningful improvements to our environmental footprint in recent years, our commitment to sustainability means we must do a better job of safely managing our coal ash ponds,” CEO Lynn Good said in the report.

The report describes Duke’s proposal to move coal ash from the retired coal power plants and convert to dry ash handling elsewhere.

“Of course,” the report says, “implementing these near-term recommendations and longer-term plans depends on state and federal agreement that these are prudent, cost-effective and environmentally sound options.”

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