An Open Letter to Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers

posted by scott parkin

Democracy will be in the streets of Charlotte on April 20. Be there or be square!

April 15, 2009

Jim Rogers, President and CEO
Duke Energy
Charlotte, North Carolina

Subject: Civil disobedience and stopping Cliffside are the rational responses to coal-climate crisis

Dear Mr. Rogers,

Next Monday, we and many others will march to Duke Energy headquarters and seek your written agreement to stop construction of the Cliffside coal-fired power plant and turn all efforts toward climate protection through clean, efficient energy. Many of us feel called to conscience so strongly that we are willing to peacefully risk arrest in order to prevent the crime against humanity that would result from Cliffside opening in 2012.

We again urge you to become the leader depicted by your public relations team, and use your extraordinary influence to stem the health, economic and environmental damage caused by the use of coal, including an accelerating climate crisis that is already causing devastation in many parts of this nation and around the world. We are compelled to act for several reasons:

1. Duke Energy’s use of coal is destroying our Appalachian mountaintop communities and waters.
2. Duke Energy’s coal combustion is poisoning our children with unnecessarily high emissions of mercury and other pollutants.
3. The new Cliffside unit has been proven unnecessary in several ways, most recently by Dr. John Blackburn, retired chair of the Duke University Economics Department – using your own data.
4. Your Save-a-Watt scheme indicates you are not serious about energy efficiency. We urge you to stop opposing the NC SAVE$ ENERGY bill.
5. Duke Energy’s corporate influence over elected and regulatory officials is subverting our democracy – as fully evidenced in the Cliffside case. We hereby withdraw consent from critical public decisions being dominated by Duke Energy’s corporate interests.
6. Coal combustion is fueling a climate emergency that continues to accelerate beyond predictions of just two years ago.

We are called by conscience to continue resisting your actions. Building new coal-fired power plants in the year 2009 collides with warnings of ecological catastrophe by the worldwide scientific community, including NASA’s Dr. James Hansen and virtually all eminent climatologists. Yet Duke and other energy corporations continue to fuel the extremely dangerous fiction that we have decades to take corrective actions. NASA’s climate team warns of potentially “explosive” changes that would far outmatch human attempts to moderate the damage.

In short, climate change is already harming millions of people and will soon impact all of us. As the rest of the world belatedly moves forward with climate protection through energy efficiency and clean generation, we urge Duke Energy to follow suit and abandon plans for the construction of counter-productive coal-fired and nuclear power plants – which are unlikely to ever be completed.

Although there remains uncertainty about the rate of further climate disruption, the United Nations’ climate panel recently warned that we have only six years at current pollution levels before crossing a point of no return. If our society were free from confusion sown by energy corporations such as yours,

we would already be deploying full-blown emergency measures to curb greenhouse gases.

As noted recently by award-winning journalist Eric Pooley, “climate scientists have no doubt that the impact is already being felt and little doubt that future consequences will be severe to catastrophic. It is too late to ‘prevent’ global warming, but it may yet be possible to avoid cataclysm.”

And as Dr. Hansen recently repeated, “Stopping Cliffside is the best thing North Carolina can do to help with global warming.”

Other states and utilities have heeded the winds of change and cancelled projects for new coal-fired power plants. Duke’s choice to revert to more coal-fired power at Cliffside and in Edwardsport, Indiana is morally, scientifically and politically indefensible.

You call these coal plants your “bridge” to a green future, but scientists say we no longer have time for such false solutions. The only rational and morally sound path forward is one that eliminates unnecessary harm to our economy, health, and hope for future generations. The best approach for protecting our climate – energy efficiency – is also the best for our economy.

We, as responsible citizens, heed these warnings even if Duke Energy does not. Therefore, we will persist with every available nonviolent measure to prevent Cliffside from opening in 2012 as planned.

At this unprecedented juncture in history, we urge you in the strongest possible terms to cancel construction at Cliffside, and help North Carolina turn all available efforts toward reduction of greenhouse gases – through energy efficiency and renewable power generation.


The Canary Coalition
Carolinas Clean Air Coalition
Clean Water for North Carolina
Coal River Mountain Watch
Cumberland County Progressives (NC)
Earth Policy Institute
Footprints for Peace (Cincinnati)
Friends of the Earth USA
Greenpeace USA
Head On Radio Network (H.O.R.N.)
Indiana Citizen Action Coalition
Michigan Energy Alternatives Project
Mountain Voices Alliance
MoveOn – Charlotte Chapter
North Carolina Green Party
NC WARN: Waste Awareness and Reduction Network
People Advocating Real Conservancy (PARC)
Progressive Democrats of America
Rainforest Action Network
Rising Tide – Asheville
Western North Carolina Alliance

Also endorsing the April 20th event:

Dr. James Hansen
Martin Sheen
Bill McKibben
NC Representative Susan Fisher
Gloria Rueben
Rev. Carrie Bolton
Rev. Nelson Johnson
Father John