suggests that Duke Energy officials and Josh Ellis, Gov. McCrory's communications director, lobbied state environment and health officials to lift "do not drink" advisories
people living near coal ash ponds despite these officials' reservations that the water wasn't safe.
The North Carolina Democratic party wants to know just how far Ellis's involvement goes, and announced Thursday afternoon that it is requesting all of Ellis's communications with Duke Energy representatives, as well as with officials from the state's Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Environmental Quality.
"According to testimony, officials from Duke Energy and McCrory spokesman Josh Ellis lobbied for the changes," said Patsy Keever, chair of the state Democratic party, at a press conference. "The testimony directly contradicts statements by McCrory's state health director Randall Williams, who said that Duke Energy had not pushed to lift the "do not drink" orders for families living on well water near coal ash ponds."
Keever said people deserve to know if McCrory's press office pressured state water scientists to change clean water standards to save Duke Energy a few dollars at the expense of their health.
"Why in the world is the governor's press person commenting on state water standards at all, much less overruling the state water experts," she asked. "Now the governor's office is seeking more authority with less oversight in cleaning up these toxic coal ash ponds. Families deserve to know what's in their drinking water."
Josh Ellis has not yet responded to the INDY's
request for comment.
You can read state epidemiologist Megan Davies' deposition, taken by senior attorney Frank Holleman of the Southern Environmental Law Center, in full below. The relevant section begins on page 43.