Deborah Feruccio was arrested during a sit-in at the State Capitol in June, for trespassing.
The Warren County environmentalist and ten others, calling themselves the McCrory 11, had just delivered a letter to the Governor requesting measures to stop fracking, clean up coal ash pollution and expand Medicaid.
Today, she and three other protestors are being offered a choice to sign an agreement for deferred prosecution—25 hours of community service, payment of court costs and a promise not to be arrested again.
Ferrucio refuses to sign.
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Instead, she will go to trial for the charges and represent herself.
“The issues we went to jail for are more pressing than ever,” Ferruchio said in a press conference at the Wake County courthouse this morning. “The state has trespassed against its own people.”
Feruccio is most upset about what she says are Duke Energy’s inadequate, “aborted” Dan River cleanup efforts, and the state and EPA’s complicity in not forcing the corporation to deal with its coal ash ponds across the state.
“They’ve decided to leave the cleanup at 4 percent (of 39,000 tons of spilled coal ash),” Feruccio said. “That is outrageous, and it’s a precedent that Duke Energy, the state and the EPA hope to set so that when they try to clean up these coal ash pits and ponds, they’re going to do less than a minimum. It’s a slap in our faces.”
North Carolina environmentalists have consistently criticized the state Legislature for a too-weak coal ash bill.
Additionally, lawmakers failed to pass the bill before the end of the legislative session.
Even conservative political observers predict the legislature will do little to hold Duke Energy accountable for its coal ash pollution
, shifting the cost burden of cleanup onto ratepayers.
And earlier this week, news broke that the Governor failed to disclose his ownership in Duke Energy stock in state ethics filings. He quickly sold his shares following the disastrous Dan River spill. (Check next week’s INDY for more on this story).
“The Governor comes from the Duke Energy corporate culture,” Feruccio says. “To separate the Governor from Duke Energy is very difficult.”
This is why she will continue to protest, and is willing to be arrested again.
“We’re not going to away any more than they did in the 1960’s,” Feruccio said. “There’s nothing more important to your civil rights than clean water.”