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Tracy Kellogg-Brodeur's picture

CleanWaterRecently, my friend and colleague Ruth told you about the impact of the Elk River chemical spill on her friends and family in West Virginia. 300,000 West Virginians lost their clean water, so they could not cook, bathe or simply have a drink for days. My heart went out to them.

Today, like a bad joke, it’s my turn to tell the same story, this time affecting my own state of North Carolina and our neighbor, Virginia.

A couple of weeks ago, Duke Energy, the nation’s largest provider of electricity, reported that a large storm pipe under one of its closed power plants had ruptured, releasing an estimated 82,000 tons of coal ash, as well as up to 27 million gallons of polluted “basin water” into the Dan River. That’s enough ash to fill up more than 40 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Coal ash typically contains heavy metals such as arsenic, lead, mercury, and zinc. If eaten, drunk or inhaled, it can cause cancer, developmental delays and behavioral problems, as well as impair bone growth in children. Now tens of thousands of tons of this sludge is making its way downstream to the Gaston Reservoir at the North Carolina and Virginia border, which serves the heavily populated communities of Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, and Norfolk. We do not know yet what the full impact will be.

We really have an important opportunity right now to take action for cleaner energy. The United States Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a new rule to finally limit the carbon emissions that come from power plants, which have never been regulated. Power plants produce 40% of our country's carbon pollution, which, among other things, creates smog and provokes asthma that afflicts one in 10 kids. Finalizing this rule will be a huge step forward in taking pollutants out of our environment.

You can join me in taking action now! Help me tell the EPA that we want cleaner and safer energy to protect our families and communities. Sign on and tell the EPA to limit the amount of carbon pollution spewed by power plants now:

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