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Letter: Duke Energy should pay for coal ash cleanup

I would like to address the payment for the cost of coal ash cleanup forced upon the taxpayers and ratepayers of Duke Energy.

Duke wants us to pay for its disaster that has gone on for decades when it created the basins for the byproduct of burning coal to generate electricity for  “eleventy millions” (it means a boatload of millions) of dollars in profits. That byproduct in ash that has, I don’t know, “eleventy million” different things in it will eventually cause us harm.

Why should we pay for it? Duke made the money but forgot to finish the job by not cleaning up after itself.

Let’s say for example that 100 years ago my great-great-grandfather saw a demand for skink fur hats. He successfully opened up a factory and, for the next 100 years, my family turned out those one-of-a-kind-hats at an unprecedented rate, making my family “eleventy million” dollars. My family would be tickled to death as they sat around smoking cigars and drinking champagne (except during Prohibition), toasting to their skunk success.

But wait; 100 years after opening the doors to the factory, we found out that the neighbors may get sick from the byproduct from rendering the skunk into hats, and we will have to clean up the dump site where we polluted the ground and drinking water from that smelly waste. How will we do this without causing the investors heart attacks on Wall Street?

I know: Make the customers and government pay for it. After all, they were the ones who made us make the hats in the first place. If it weren’t for their demand, we would never have made hats in the first place.

That kind of thinking and deception is OK in the eyes of Duke Energy and, as far as I know, has made it “eleventy billion” (an even bigger boatload of cash) in profits on the backs of ratepayers and taxpayers.

— Michael E. Small