The meeting stands out as unique among nearly a year of entries on van der Vaart's calendar, and a spokesman for McCrory could not furnish examples of similar mealtime sit-downs with other large companies.
So last June 1, Governor Squishy invited the top brass of Duke Energy to his house, to sit down and sup at his table with his top environmental regulators, all the while publicly he was growling menacingly about making Duke Energy clean up its messes (plural) across the state, not least of which was the monstrous coal ash spill into the Dan River.
What he was really doing at that secret dinner was promising Duke Energy a sweetheart deal, which he and his administration proceeded to deliver, like a fruity cocktail on a silver platter:
State regulators reduced Duke Energy’s fine from $25 million to $7 million:
“There seems little doubt that the country’s largest electric utility certainly bested the state in this case. Going from $25 million to $7 million doesn’t seem the shrewdest negotiating on the state’s part. And the coal ash problem is an ongoing threat.” (News & Observer editorial, 10/4/15
Duke Energy didn’t even admit the final settlement was a fine:
“Duke called it a payment and didn’t even seem to concede it was a fine.” (News & Observer editorial, 10/4/15)
Duke Energy declared cleanup efforts on Dan River over after cleaning up only 3,000 of approximately 39,000 tons of coal ash:
“Last February, around 39,000 tons of toxic coal slurry gushed into a major North Carolina river. Now, having cleaned up around 3,000 tons worth, the company behind the spill and state regulators say their work is done. With 92 percent of the original heavy metal-laden and possibly radioactive coal ash still coating 70 miles of river bottom, river advocates are frustrated.” (Newsweek, 7/21/14)McCrory was elected the Governor of North Carolina, but he has continued to behave like the Prize Sow of Duke Energy. It ain't funny.