Success: Coal Conglomerate to Face Criminal Charges

Coal Plant

Target: U.S. Department of Justice Environmental Crimes Chief Deborah L. Harris

Goal: Applaud the charges against the coal company that dumped huge amounts of waste into a river.

A coal giant is facing criminal charges for illegally dumping millions of gallons of toxic coal ash into North Carolina’s Dan River. Duke Energy has been fighting off lawsuits from environmentalist groups for years after they were caught polluting like this, and now the U.S. government is finally on board. The coal company is not fighting the charges, instead seeking a plea deal that includes a fine of $102.2 million to pay for the environmental damages.

Duke Energy has been charged with deliberately violating the Clean Water Act as they knowingly dumped toxic waste containing arsenic, mercury, and lead into an important river, which put wildlife and nearby citizens at serious risk. It took two years, but the conglomerate is finally facing a real punishment–not just a slap on the wrist. This victory can be credited to environmentalists who petitioned the government to act, including the ForceChange community with the Reprimand Energy Company for Deliberate Pollution petition.

Getting the federal government to charge polluters is often the only way that energy conglomerates will face consequences for their actions, as environmental groups have trouble fighting their highly-paid lawyers. By signing this petition, you’ll thank the federal prosecutors for taking the case and bringing Duke Energy to justice.


Dear Chief Harris,

I understand that your department has recently brought criminal charges against Duke Energy for violating the Clean Water Act by dumping millions of gallons of toxic waste into North Carolina’s rivers. This company has been getting away with deliberate and reckless pollution for years, contaminating the environment and putting local citizens at risk from arsenic, mercury, and lead poisoning. I wanted to thank you for your efforts to ensure that this criminal corporation faces consequences for its actions.

Many energy conglomerates get away with this kind of pollution with little more than a slap on the wrist. Because you listened to environmentalists and brought criminal charges against Duke Energy, you’ve sent the message to similar companies that wanton contamination of our land and water will not be tolerated.

Thank you again for making Duke Energy pay for their actions. Hopefully, having to pay over $100 million in fines to clean up the mess will force the company’s leaders to think twice before they dump toxic pollutants into another local river.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Arnold Paul via Wikimedia Commons

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