MSNBC host Rachel Maddow said on Thursday that a burgeoning federal investigation could spell trouble for not only the North Carolina company behind an 82,000-ton toxic spill, but also for former employee Gov. Pat McCrory (R).
Maddow pointed out that, since McCrory took office, the state not only blocked at least two lawsuits challenging Duke Energy’s environmental practices, but has also stopped environmental activists from legal actions concerning any of the company’s 30 coal ash sites in North Carolina.
“Now the state is going to have to answer for that to a federal grand jury — at least that’s what it looks like in this surprise development today in snowy, snowy, snowy North Carolina,” Maddow said.
Both Duke Energy and McCrory’s office have been subpoenaed by investigators. Some of the information they are seeking relates to two settlements the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) reached with the company after invoking a loophole allowing state officials to nudge plaintiffs out of two separate lawsuits, and reach agreements totaling less than $100,000.
In the wake of a third spill that broke out on Feb. 3, that spilled enough ash to fill nearly 32 Olympic-size swimming pools into the nearby Dan River in Virginia, however, the state opted to delay another settlement.
But, Maddow noted, the company itself is worth $50 billion, and has donated more than $1 million to McCrory’s election campaign, who worked at Duke for 28 years.
“The state’s proposed settlement for contaminating the groundwater in Asheville and contaminating the groundwater in Charlotte was that Duke would have to ‘study the issue’ of how they were contaminating the groundwater in places like that,” Maddow said. “But they would not have to clean up any of the contamination that they had caused, and they would not have to stop contaminating the groundwater or do anything different at those sites.”
Watch Maddow’s commentary, as aired on Thursday, below.