A closer look at Duke Energy's corruption of UNC Charlotte

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Our public universities should never allow this to happen again:

Daniels described the board in a letter to Tom Reeder, then the assistant secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, in a letter on April 5, 2016, arguing against a risk classification system for Duke’s coal ash ponds. “The NAMAB is an independent group of experts chartered through Duke Energy and managed by the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNC Charlotte). Board members provide advice to Duke Energy, but they are contracted with and report to UNC Charlotte,” Daniels wrote. That same letter concluded with a final reaffirmation of the board’s independence. “And we are independent,” Daniels wrote.

But emails obtained by WBTV show staff from Duke Energy scheduled meetings, coordinated the distribution of research materials and facilitated the day-to-day operation of the board; a direct contradiction of what Daniels wrote in his April 2016 letter to Reeder.

There's nothing fossil fuel companies like more than penetrating a reputable university and setting up an industry-funded "research" operation. When you can dictate the scope of the research, you can (very often) achieve the results you were hoping for. Or make changes to those results if you're not happy with them:

Emails produced by UNCC show Langley first sent a final copy of the report to executives at Duke on October 16, 2015.

But that didn’t stop Duke personnel from making further changes to the documents.

One batch of changes came early on the morning of November 12, 2015.

“Attached are highly suggested edits (in track changes) to the most recent submittal of the GW Model report,” Duke closure engineer Brandon Culberson wrote Langley in an email sent at 7:23 a.m. “Please finalize the report and submit a PDF version of the entire document by 10 am.”

A review of the tracked changes in the attached PDF show Duke personnel deleted sentences, added full paragraphs and made changes to both the executive summary and conclusions section of the report.

Heads need to roll over this, yet we're hearing crickets out of the GOP-controlled General Assembly. They shut down Gene Nichol and the Poverty Center, and banned the Civil Rights Center from litigating cases to help poor clients unfairly treated by government. But not a damn word about Duke Energy corrupting the research of UNC Charlotte. Hypocrisy taken to the extreme.

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