WNC Faith Leaders Call on Duke Energy for Cleaner Future


WNC Faith Community address Duke Energy Progress

Editor’s note: The following letter was submitted to the Citizen-Times by clergy from about 70 area congregations. Some of them will attend the Duke Energy shareholder meeting on May 1 in Charlotte to deliver this letter to Duke leaders in person.

We are writing as leaders of local churches and faith communities. We feel obliged to act as faithful stewards of God’s creation. We write today because we need your leadership to achieve a sustainable future where our energy needs are met without depending on fossil fuels. Toward that goal we ask Duke Energy Progress:

  • To develop and publicize plans for decommissioning the Asheville coal plant, including a plan to clean up the coal ash waste sites which are leaking into our groundwater and beloved French Broad River.
  • To participate in a public conversation about the pursuit of innovative steps toward clean energy in our region. We need your leadership.

As people who take our responsibility to care for creation as a moral mandate, we believe the Asheville coal plant is clearly inconsistent with our faith traditions for the following reasons:

  • The Asheville coal plant is the largest single source of CO2 pollution in our region and therefore contributes significantly to climate disruption.
  • The Asheville coal plant relies on coal mined by mountaintop removal in Kentucky. This extraction method destroys forested mountains and endangers the communities of people and other creatures that inhabit them, clearly a violation of the duty to love our neighbors.
  • The Asheville coal plant’s air pollution directly impacts the health of people, especially children suffering from asthma. Nationally, coal plants are responsible annually for triggering 13,000 asthma attacks and more than $100 billion in health costs.

We do not believe that anyone has intended these unacceptable impacts of the Asheville coal plant, but its effects are well documented.

As faith leaders, we believe we have a moral obligation to advocate for a new course. We further believe that, as our institutional neighbor, Duke Energy has a moral obligation to this generation and to subsequent generations to use its considerable resources, experience and acumen to lead the way.

Duke Energy Progress is not just a faceless company to us. Your leadership and your employees are our neighbors. We shop at the same stores, coach each other’s children on Saturday mornings, and enjoy the lifestyle and beauty of Western North Carolina. We want the same things, including a safe, healthy and sustainable future for ourselves and our children.

Toward that end, we implore you to decommission the Asheville coal plant, to clean up the toxic coal ash waste sites, and to inspire our community to find a clean energy future that holds promise for the health and economic well-being of all Western North Carolinians. We trust that such innovative steps are possible, but will require moral imagination and the determination to act with love to care for God’s creation— including each other, our children, and our neighbors.

We look forward to your response—and to working together for the betterment of our community.

Rev. Todd Donatelli, All Souls Episcopal Cathedral, Asheville

The full list of faith leader signatories; signatories represent themselves. Congregations are listed for identification purposes only.


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