Megan and I went to see Erin Brockovich speak at Wake Forest University tonight. Ms. Brockovich was an entertaining speaker and we're glad our friends at Yadkin Riverkeeper and other organizations were able to bring her in. There was quite a crowd and some media attention, and we're thrilled that hopefully the event will help shed some light on a very important issue — the fight to prevent the renewal of Alcoa's license to continue operating dams on the Yadkin River.
I consider myself to be fairly balanced and reasonable on most subjects, despite my tendency to voice strong opinions at inappropriate moments. I understand that private companies can act as good stewards of facilities that belong to and benefit the public, and perhaps even do a better, more efficient job at operating them. However based on what I've seen and read about Alcoa and the Yadkin River power operation, this is a case of a huge corporation shirking its responsibilities to clean up its own mess while profiting from public resources and providing nothing in return. To quote from the Yadkin Riverkeeper site:
Essentially, Alcoa wants to control the rights to this important public resource for the next 50 years and continue to generate approximately $50 million a year from the hydropower operations, while passing on a toxic legacy to NC citizens with no obligation requiring clean up and no obligation to provide jobs for NC citizens.
The Yadkin River is critically important to so many aspects of our lives here in the Triad, even if you don't even know where the river actually runs. It supplies drinking water, supports agriculture and provides innumerable other benefits. Preserving the rivier and cleaning up Alcoa's pollution from the now closed smelting plant are important jobs that affect us all, even if we're not aware of it. Please go check it out!