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Duke Energy coal ash dump spill coats 70 miles of the Dan River in gray sludge.

An ugly story from North Carolina:

The nation's largest electricity company has been under intense scrutiny since a massive February 2 spill at a coal ash dump in Eden coated 70 miles of the Dan River in gray sludge. The ash, which is a byproduct left after coal is burned to generate electricity, contains toxic chemicals including arsenic, lead and mercury.

A "spill" because the earthen dam that was holding the sludge back split. In fact, it had a big crack in it, but nobody noticed:

Donna Lisenby, a spokeswoman for the [WaterKeeper Alliance] environmental group, questioned how state inspectors could have possibly missed a crack in the dam so large it could be seen from an airplane.

"They want the public to believe they failed to notice a 35-foot-long, 4-inch-wide crack so large a fifth grader could have seen it," Lisenby said. "This is the last straw. The public simply can no longer trust DENR to competently investigate the wide array of problems at Duke Energy coal ash ponds at multiple sites across North Carolina. Once again Duke failed to notify the agency of a serious problem in a timely fashion and DENR failed to find the problem even when they were standing right on top of it."

The Dan River watershed is a Common Pool Resource. Sounds like WaterKeeper Alliance should be regulating it, not the state.

So, in terms of concrete material benefits, these two points:

11. Clean Air and Water
12. Carbon Negative Economy

And these two reforms:

8. Preserve and Expand the Commons
9. More Co-operatives, Fewer Corporations

NOTE On consideration, I do think that "Carbon Negative" is a concrete material benefit. Even leaving out climate change, that stuff is bad for you -- I remember filling up the oil tank with fuel in the winter, and heating oil isn't something humans are meant to smell or touch (and if we aren't, what is?) Same deal with coal. See the quote above: "[T]oxic chemicals including arsenic, lead and mercury." It would be nice if we could have diamond pure essence of carbon in the form of "clean coal," as the 2008 Obama campaign advocated, but na gonna happen. And even my woodstove has its disadvantages: Wood ash concentrates bad stuff, and it's not like my chimney has any anti-pollution devices.

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