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Poll: N.C. voters say people should control water rights in the Yadkin River

STANLY COUNTY ó In a poll commissioned by the N.C. Water Rights Committee to gauge public opinion regarding Alcoa’s efforts for renewal of a 50-year federal license for a monopoly on hydroelectric power from the Yadkin River Basin in Stanly County (“the Yadkin Hydroelectric Project”), North Carolina voters overwhelmingly say that the people of North Carolina, rather than a multi-national firm like Alcoa, should control water rights in the Yadkin River.
Additionally, the survey found that by at least a 2-to-1 margin, voters in every region of North Carolina say the state should take time to study the renewal of Alcoa’s license because this issue will affect North Carolina’s economy, the environment and access to water for the next 50 years.
Results were the same across all political affiliations, ethnic groups and genders.
The N.C. Water Rights Committee authorized Hamilton Campaigns of Washington, D.C., to conduct a telephone poll of 500 likely N.C. voters between June 30 and July 1. The poll occurred after several legislators and citizens disputed results of a recent previous survey created on behalf of Alcoa as being slanted in the wording of its questions. The margin of error for a sample of this size is plus or minus 4.4 percentage points, at the 95 percent confidence level.
The Stanly County Commissioners are on record as opposing Alcoa’s operation of the Yadkin Hydroelectric Project and have asked the state to intervene in the matter, saying that the state’s water rights for a public resource such as the Yadkin River should take precedence over a private firm such as Alcoa having an unlimited monopoly on it. Similar resolutions have been signed by Davidson, Randolph, Iredell, Anson, Cabarrus and Union County boards of commissioners, as well as the Centralina Council of Governments.
Gov. Mike Easley and Lt. Gov. and Senate Minority Leader Phil Berger have sent letters to FERC requesting that it delay its decision so the matter can further be studied by the state. Based on this poll, the voters of North Carolina overwhelmingly agree.
Recently, in a bi-partisan effort, several members of the N.C. General Assembly introduced language to create a commission that would study the impacts of FERC granting a 50-year license to Alcoa Power Generating Inc.’s operations on the river. The provision was under discussion as part of the state’s budget legislation, but may end up being debated separate and apart from the state budget bill. State Senate Majority Leader Tony Rand has noted that the only people to contact him to oppose the study provision have been lobbyists for Alcoa.
Key findings of the survey include:
– Six out of 10 voters say they agree with people who say the State of North Carolina should take a limited time period to study the license renewal because this issue will affect our economy, the environment and our access to water for the next 50 years.
– An overwhelming majority (86 percent) say rights to water in the Yadkin River should be managed and controlled by the people of North Carolina.
– A similar majority (87 percent) say the most important use of water in the Yadkin River is to ensure that there is adequate drinking water during the current drought.
Documents outlining survey questions and results ó their exact wording and their percentage of responses ó are available online at www.mmimarketing.com.

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