Co-Founder of Alliance for Energy Democracy Seeks Energy Justice on Independence Day

We, the people of the State of North Carolina, grateful to Almighty God, the Sovereign Ruler of Nations, for the preservation of the American Union and the existence of our civil, political and religious liberties, and acknowledging our dependence upon Him for the continuance of those blessings to us and our posterity, do, for the more certain security thereof and for the better government of this State, ordain and establish this Constitution. (emphasis added)


As many of the readers know, I am a retired M.D. and have engaged in energy/climate activism for decades from the public health/moral imperative perspective. For that reason I  filed a Writ of Mandamus and Motion for a Temporary Stay with the North Carolina Court of Appeals in my prolonged attempt to Intervene in the Duke Energy Corporation/Piedmont Natural Gas, Inc. merger.

I believe that I, and any informed resident of North Carolina have a substantial interest in the Merger based on the Public Trust Doctrine that has gained national attention recently with a victory by a group of young adults who have been supported by Our Children’s Trust. The legal rationale for claiming his intervention status was profoundly articulated by Justice Thomas Coffin on April 8, 2016 when he ruled in favor of the young plaintiffs, who claimed that under common and Constitutional law of the United States, the government has the legal obligation to protect our collective natural heritage for the benefit of the public welfare for our posterity in perpetuity. Justice Coffin’s ruling can be read here.

In the political atmosphere of corporate influence and control over our state government, it is no surprise that the government regulators at the North Carolina Utilities Commission and its Public Staff ruled against my Petition to Intervene in order to get the Public Staff and the Commission to be accountable to the people of North Carolina and their posterity. According to the clear language of the North Carolina Constitution and General Statutes, under which Commission and Public Staff operate, I believe that I has a “substantial interest” in the Merger. “Substantial interest” is the criterion by which the Commission judges whether or not to grant Intervener status to individuals or groups in matters before the Commission. My “substantial interest” is the well being, health, safety, security and opportunities for my and others’ children and grandchildren to grow and flourish.

But common language has no ground in “Newspeak”, the language of George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four – the language created by corporate and government rulers in the dystopian future. That dystopian future is here now in North Carolina, as the Chair of the Utilities Commission and the Director of the Public Staff are former corporate attorney’s for Hunton & Williams, who were outside counsel for electric utility client Progress Energy, now merged with Duke. The meaning of words is now corporate speak. You can follow Duke Energy’s money trail to politicians and their regulators here.

I believe the McCrory administration, the General Assembly, and the North Carolina Utilities Commission are colluding to make North Carolina citizens and rate payers hostage to Duke Energy’s mandate to increase shareholder value, which, if the Merger is allowed to be consummated, its profits will be driven by natural gas production of electricity for generations to come, to the detriment of public health, welfare, and a robust democratically determined economy. The only relief from Duke Energy’s monopolistic oppression of North Carolinians now and for future generations lies in the Judicial System and the application of the Public Trust doctrine to energy policy in North Carolina.

The Public Staff refuses to consider global warming and its devastating consequences to the people and ecosystems of North Carolina in their cost benefit analysis of the Merger. The Public Staff is on the record as stating that in order that the Merger be “justified by the public convenience and necessity” it must decide that the Merger “will have no adverse impact on the utilities’’ North Carolina retail ratepayers, that consumers are protected as much as possible from potential costs and risks related to the (Merger), and that there are sufficient benefits from the transaction to offset and such costs and risks….The purpose of the Public Staff investigation is to identify, and to the extent possible quantify, all known and potential benefits, costs, and risks to ratepayers related to the merger…”

It boggles the rational mind and critical imagination how the implications of global warming are considered irrelevant to the Public Staff’s analysis of risks and costs. A 2008 report Impacts of Global Warming on North Carolina’s Coastal Economy is only one source that the Public Staff should bring in as experts to help them understand the devastating economic and social costs to our state that dwarf any short term economic benefits to current ratepayers. The Public Staff must be held accountable to their legal, fiduciary and moral obligations under the laws and Constitution of North Carolina.

I am acting as an individual citizen in this Merger battle, and is supported by my association with the Alliance for Energy Democracy and other friends and colleagues in the legal profession. I believes that all adult residents of conscience should join the young adults acting for our collective future through their work with Our Children’s Trust. We, the adults and elders of North Carolina, have a duty to this beautiful state, to its human and other than human life to protect its health, beauty and integrity for all posterity. We, the people, will not accept anything less than a democratic clean renewable energy future. Such is the intent and substantial interest I claim to be his purpose in filing the Writ.

I welcome your comments.

I also ask you become a member of the Alliance for Energy Democracy, as an individual or group. Your membership is tax deductible and will grow the Energy Democracy movement in North Carolina.

You can donate through Paypal on our donate button, or send a check to me at 374 Laughing River Rd., Mars Hill, N.C., 28754. Make the check out to the American Forest Alliance, our fiscal agent, and write Alliance for Energy Democracy on the memo line. Any amount will be greatly appreciated and will be used to further this work for Energy Democracy.

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