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Survey Shows That Public Doesn’t Want Cliffside Plant

From our friends over at the Carolinas Clean Air Coalition:


Survey of 600 N.C. Adults Shows Strong Preference for Clean Energy, More Conservation & Energy-Efficiency; About 6 in 10 State Residents Would Be More Likely to Support Political Candidate Who Opposes Cliffside Plant.

Charlotte, N.C. <April 22, 2008> The Carolinas Clean Air Coalition is part of a broad based coalition made up of over 20 public health, environmental, faith-based, consumer and citizen action groups across the state opposed to Duke Energy’s Cliffside coal plant located about 50 miles west of Charlotte.

According to a scientific survey of 600 state residents conducted support in North Carolina for plans by Duke Energy to build a dirty coal-fired power plant at Cliffside is weak.

The survey of North Carolina residents found that about four out of five North Carolina residents (79 percent) –- including a bipartisan 74 percent of Republicans, 84 percent of Democrats and 82 percent of Independents — agree that “North Carolina should focus on increased energy efficiency and conservation steps and more use of sustainable energy to reduce demand for electricity before it goes ahead with a new coal-fired power plant.”

These survey results showing four out of five North Carolinians favor the increased use of energy efficiency and sustainable energy over a new coal-fired power plant are no surprise to the Coalition. Since Duke first announced its plans for Cliffside 18 months ago, hundreds of citizens in the Charlotte region and across the state have come out to public hearings, educational forums, and rallies time and time again to express their opposition to the first coal plant to be built in our state in over 30 years.

We’ve heard from children suffering from asthma, doctors concerned about mercury levels in pregnant women and green building experts describing how energy demand can be reduced. We’ve heard loud and clear from citizens who have become increasing aware of the urgency of the climate crisis and who are appalled that their utility provider would build what amounts to a global warming machine spewing over 6 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year for the next 50 years.

We’ve had prominent doctors and medical experts speak to the public and in the press about the dangers of coal. We’ve even had people call our office after they’ve signed contracts to purchase homes and property near the plant, but now want to get out of those contracts. They want to know where in North Carolina they can find clean air.

From our experience and as these survey results indicate, it’s clear that there is a huge disconnect between how the public feels about energy and Duke’s plans to generate it. We hope that legislators, utility commissioners, candidates for public office and Duke shareholders all see the writing on the wall that says North Carolinians want clean sources of energy to power our homes and businesses. It says we are tired of dirty air and code orange, red and purple ozone action days during the spring and summer. As coal fuels global warming and global warming brings hotter seasons, we will continue to suffer with more and more bad air days.

This poll is another nail in the coffin for this ill-conceived Cliffside project. It’s gratifying to us to know that the North Carolina public supports so strongly our agenda for cleaner energy and cleaner air.

Other key North Carolina survey findings include the following:

• Roughly seven out of 10 state residents (69 percent) would pick clean wind or solar energy if they “could decide where to invest money in new electric power generation for North Carolina.” Better than one in five (22 percent) would pick nuclear and just 7 percent favor coal as the power source.

• About six out of 10 state residents (59 percent) -–including an equal number of likely voters –would be more likely to vote for “a candidate for public office who spoke out against Duke Energy’s planned coal-fired plant for North Carolina.”This support for power plant opponent candidates includes majorities of Republicans (52 percent), Democrats (65 percent) and Independents (58 percent).

• Nearly three out of four North Carolina residents (73 percent) would oppose “the building of another coal-fired power plant in North Carolina if they knew it would result in additional mercury contamination and carbon dioxide pollution, which scientists believe contribute to global warming.” Over half (53 percent) of residents would strongly oppose such construction, which would be favored by only one in four state residents. Only 38 percent of Republicans, 15 percent of Democrats and 28 percent of Independents would support such construction.

Civil Society Institute Senior Fellow Gail Pressberg said: “Even in its own backyard in North Carolina, Duke Energy does not have the support of the public when it embraces a 19th Century solution like coal to deal with the challenges of a 21st Century world that requires clean energy solutions that create new jobs and cut global warming pollution. North Carolina residents know that Jim Rogers is on the wrong track in relying on a dirty power source at the same time that more far-sighted utilities and the state governments that regulate them are canceling plans for coal-fired power plants.”

Alice Loyd, executive director, North Carolina Interfaith Power and Light in Raleigh, said: “What the poll shows would certainly be true for the people we’ve met as we make presentations in faith congregations over the state. They see that emitting the kind of pollution this plant would create is just wrong. Recently Pope Benedict XVI named environmental pollution as a sin. Jim Rogers’ coal plant is not what people want, and building it at this time of climate crisis would fall into the category of moral failure.”

Jim Warren, executive director, NC WARN (Waste Awareness and Response Network) in Durham, said: “The pressure to cancel Cliffside will keep growing as the public learns the intensity of our climate crisis. We urge CEO Rogers to avoid dragging Duke Energy through a four-year battle against the people of North Carolina. The public is eager for some real leadership.”


Opinion Research Corporation Senior Researcher Graham Hueber said: “It is clear from the survey that North Carolina residents are looking ahead to a future of cleaner energy. For example, nearly nine out of 10 North Carolina residents (86 percent) agree with the following statement: ‘A national energy strategy based on a ‘phasing in’ of new technologies and a phasing out of carbon based energy sources would require specific actions. America should commit to a five-year moratorium on new coal-fired plants and, instead, focus on aggressive expansion of wind, solar and other renewable energy sources. Tax and other incentives should be provided for all new construction to help reduce energy consumption. Homeowners should get incentives to make their homes more energy efficient to help reduce energy demands.’”

Other key Civil Society Institute survey findings for North Carolina include the following:

• Likely voters favor more conservation/energy efficiency over power plant construction by a margin of 79 percent to 20 percent.

• More than four out of five North Carolina residents (81 percent) say they are “concerned about the possible ill health effects -including asthma, heart problems and mental retardation in children –that could be experienced by you, your family members and others as the result of increased pollution from a new coal-fired power plant in North Carolina.”Fewer than one in five state residents (18 percent) say they are not concerned by such health issues.

• More than four out of five (84 percent) – including a bipartisan 86 percent of Republicans, 84 percent of Democrats and 86 percent of independents — agree with the following statement: “A sound energy policy is central to solving some of the most urgent problems facing our country. An energy policy that promotes energy efficiency and sustainable power would encourage innovation, create new green jobs and make for a stronger economy. It also allows the U.S. to disentangle itself from unstable and hostile regions of the world while also reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions.”

• Roughly nine out of 10 North Carolina residents (89 percent) “think it is time for the leaders of our nation to start thinking in terms of the concept of a ’new industrial revolution,’ one that is characterized by the orderly phasing out of fossil fuels and the phasing in of clean, renewable energy sources -many of which are available now, such as wind and solar for electricity, hybrid and clean diesel technologies for cars.”

• Over four out of five North Carolina residents (82 percent) agree that “the effects of global warming require that we take timely and decisive steps for renewable, safe and clean energy sources. We need transitional technologies on our path to energy independence. There are tough choices to be made and tradeoffs. We cannot afford to postpone decisions since there are no perfect options.”

• Two thirds of North Carolina residents have little (10 percent) or no (56 percent) awareness of “plans by Duke Energy to build a new coal-fired power plant at Cliffside in North Carolina.”Only 34 percent say they are aware, with just 9 percent “very aware.”

For full findings from the new survey, go to http://www.CivilSocietyInstitute.org.


Results are based on an Opinion Research Corporation survey for the Civil Society Institute consisting of telephone interviews conducted among a representative sample of 603 adults age 18 and over, living in private households, in the state of North Carolina. Interviewing was completed during the period of April 4-7, 2008. All completed interviews were weighted by two variables: age and gender, to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the adult population. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points for the sample of 603 adults. Smaller sub-groups will have larger error margins.


The nonprofit and nonpartisan Civil Society Institute (http://www.CivilSocietyInstitute.org) is a Newton, Massachusetts-based think tank that serves as a catalyst for change by creating problem-solving interactions among people, and between communities, government and business that can help to improve society. Since 2003, CSI has conducted more than 15 major national and state-level surveys on energy and global warming issues. The Civil Society Institute also is a of the Citizens Lead for Energy Action Now (CLEAN) campaign at http://www.cleanenergyaction.net. CSI is the organizer of both 40MPG.org (http://www.40MPG.org) and the Hybrid Owners of America (http://www.HybridOwnersofAmerica.org).”

Maybe Duke E. should consider pulling the plug?

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