Just as we get the kind of government we deserve when we don’t take the time to go to the polls on Election Day, so, too, should we expect to get the kind of environmental regulation we deserve when we don’t chime in on the things that are important to us.
On Monday, the Division of Environmental Quality held a public meeting and a public hearing to explain plans to close the coal ash basin at Duke Energy’s Mayo plant.
The public meeting offered the public a chance to ask questions about the plan that has, essentially already been agreed to by the state, Duke and a handful of environmental organizations.
The public hearing offered the public a chance to tell the hearing officer what their opinion of the plan is.
Now, we realize these basin closures are somewhat complex. We understand that most of us don’t understand the technology that goes into the creation of a lined landfill.
But on Monday, not a single person – not one – asked a question about the utility company’s plan. And when the time came around to take people’s opinion one person spoke – one. And that person traveled to Roxboro from Chapel Hill to make his comments.
Not a single Person County resident spoke on the issue. In fact there were only about 35 people at Monday night’s meeting. Most of those were people affiliated with the government agencies overseeing the coal ash excavation plan, or Duke Energy representatives who were there to listen to whatever comments came.
It seems likely the state will approve the plans proffered by Duke, so we suppose it is possible that residents near Mayo Lake see speaking at a public hearing as an exercise in futility. It’s possible that people were intimidated by the complexity of the matter and chose to keep silent in order not to embarrass themself.
Either way, people missed an opportunity to have their opinions heard.
Duke, the state and the environmental lobbies will all argue that the plan is sound and needs no more significant changes. And, that may well be the truth. We certainly hope the solutions offered up will work.
Because they will have to do it without any input from the people of Person County.
Residents have a chance to correct that misstep on Feb. 19, when a similar hearing will be held at North Elementary School to take feedback on coal ash basic closure plans at the Hyco Lake plant.