How Low Can You Go? Duke Energy

Dan River Coal Ash Spill, photo by Lynn Hey/Greensboro News & Record

Dan River Coal Ash Spill, photo by Lynn Hey/Greensboro News & Record

Remember the Limbo? It was a late-1950s dance craze. You tried to dance under a horizontal bar; the dancer making it under the lowest bar won. It was popularized by the song “Limbo Rock” recorded by Chubby Checker. The tag line to the song was “How low can you go?”1

Of course, “How low can you go” can be interpreted in more than one way, and involve more than one kind of dance. For example, it can involve plumbing the depths to which a multi-national corporation will sink in an effort to avoid accountability. And the political dance which a multi-national will undertake as a part of an effort to avoid accountability.

We’ll use Duke Energy as a study subject.

You remember Duke Energy; they’re the outfit that dumped 35 million gallons of highly toxic coal-ash slurry into the Dan River in North Carolina, and then failed to notify the city of Danville, Virginia, whose drinking water intake was just 20 miles downstream.

This is also the company that killed dozens of Bald Eagles and Golden Eagles and failed to report the casualties in violation of the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty.

This is also the company that avoided paying any federal income taxes 2008-2012.  WC strongly suspects none of his readers can make that claim!

About 67% of Duke Energy’s electricity is generated from fossil fuels, mainly coal (about 63%), while 31% of the company’s generation is from nuclear power and 1.5% comes from hydro. Just over a half percent of Duke’s electricity is generated from non-hydro renewables. Half of the coal Duke Energy burns at its power plants comes from mountain top removal operations. The coal-fired power plants Duke operates have an average operating age of 47 years. Older plants are much more polluting plants.

Duke Energy was so annoyed it got tagged with a violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act that it instructed its Congressional Serfs like Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-Koch Bros.) to slide an amendment into the Interior Department appropriations bill gutting enforcement of the Treaty. WC bets every crook could get his Congressman to repeal the laws under which the crook had been convicted.

How low can you go? Duke Energy is willing to sink low enough to abrogate a treaty that has been on the books for more than a hundred years to avoid being prosecuted under it again. Duke Energy is perfectly willing to jeopardize the remaining avifauna on the planet to maximize its shareholders’ dividends. Duke Energy is willing to pump CO2 into the atmosphere for short term gain, whatever the long term, catastrophic loss. Duke Energy is the third largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the United States at 112,000,000 tons per year and the number 11 emitter worldwide.

Wrecking the planet; that’s how low Duke Energy will go. Limbo lower now.


  1. Which turns out to be about 8.5 inches, set in 2010 by Shemika Charles.