Published 5:12 pm Monday, August 24, 2015

To the editor:
Our economy is a living, breathing thing that takes in resources and produces outputs.
Unfortunately, the economic model that we have enshrined pretends that companies like Duke Energy must choose between blind growth and a death spiral. That is untrue. Sustainability is not only possible, it is also absolutely essential for long-term survival, which clearly trumps short-term profits.
Even Duke recognizes that our energy future lies with sustainable sources, if the solar arrays on their “Western Carolinas Modernization” web page are not just a ruse. Few of us would be fighting this battle if Duke were indeed asking us to convert to what is really modern – safe, clean, sustainable and efficient energy. They are not. Instead, they seek to uglify our beautiful area to carry more coal- and nuclear-generated electricity to other places.
Electrical demand in this area is not skyrocketing, which is a good thing for everyone except Duke’s stockholders, who are accustomed to the cancerous growth that fattens their wallets.
We do not receive their profits; they are taken elsewhere.
We do not benefit from their unnecessary growth; we just harvest the damage and ugliness.
We did not request their growth; we seek to protect a beautiful land we can proudly hand down to our descendants.
We do not agree with Duke’s definition of “modernization”; we just wish to be left alone.
We are not Atlanta, Los Angeles, or Detroit, nor do we want to be, now or ever.
We live here because it is still a beautiful paradise of untouched forested mountains, gushing streams, and sparkling rivers that are clean and green.

We want no ghastly power lines ripping through our beautiful foothills, scattering the deer, bear and boars.
The foothills area has a long history of opposing those who try to tell us what we can and cannot do. Our lack of land-use zoning reflects that sentiment. This protective stance goes back as far as the Revolutionary War, when determined men with fire in their eyes rode through here in great numbers, risking their lives to send the British mercenaries home, and they did.
Today, it is not some distant government that wants to ruin our area. It is Duke Energy, which is every bit as arrogant and out of touch as the British ever were, operating as if they make the rules. But they do not.
I testified against Duke’s planned nuclear station near Gaffney, saying it was unnecessary, dangerous, expensive and wrong-headed. Those who resisted a potential Fukushima/Chernobyl/TMI in their backyard won the day, but without effect. Duke pushed forward regardless.
The power-line hearings and survey seem equally cynical to me, designed to let us blow off steam before Duke starts building towers wherever they want anyway. We appreciate that Duke promises to “count and weigh” our survey responses, but we heard the same words in Gaffney. Based on my experience there, Duke’s process is disingenuous, just a front. There is no legal mechanism by which any survey or hearing can force Duke to stop.
They do not need to win this debate; they only need to keep it a debate, and then they can do whatever they like. If the towers get built, our property values will get cut, just as effectively as if some distant government passed an onerous tax. But Duke taxes us without representation, which is what started the Revolutionary War. It’s not right.
Our brave Overmountain Men taught the British Dukes that they could not run rough shod over simple people who know and love the Carolina mountains.
235 years later, the New Overmountain People Enraged (NOPE) may have to teach this American Duke a similar lesson: Your uninvited “modernization” stops here. We must halt Duke before they line up their yellow earthmovers to smash through our pristine hills against our will. If they start carving our hills, our united front may have to teach them that “modern” mountain people still know how to say, “Go home!”
Or, better yet, Duke could simply do the enlightened and honorable thing and be a pioneer in going sustainable.

Brian Crissey, Ph.D.

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