The Sierra Club
Explore, enjoy and protect the planet
☰ Menu

Asheville Beyond Coal

DEQ Holds Public Hearings On Coal Ash

NC Department of Environmental quality is holding hearings across the state to hear from the public on their plan to clean up (or in some cases, leave in place) toxic coal ash ponds across the state. Though Asheville will see a full coal ash clean up, many sites across the state are slated for a "low" priority which could mean leaving the coal ash in place. This is our best chance to influence the process and make sure that all communities across North Carolina are protected from toxic coal ash pollution. 

The closest coal ash ponds that are NOT slated for a full clean up is at Cliffside, a short drive away from Asheville. There are two hearings taking place, both on March 14th, at 6pm. One will be held in Shelby, and the other in Spindale. Attending one of these hearings is the best way to ensure that the coal ash at Cliffside is handled properly and moved away from groundwater and precious waterways. 

RSVP and let us know you're coming!

Check out our interactive map below to get more info on the closest coal ash pond to YOU and find important details on hearings happening across the state.

Hearings are being held in the following locations:

Asheville Power StationBuncombe, ashevillecomments@ncdenr.govAB Technical Community College Ferguson Auditorium, 340 Victoria Rd, Asheville, NC 288016pm, March 1, 2016
Dan River Steam StationRockingham, danrivercomments@ncdenr.govEden Town Hall, 308 East Stadium Drive Eden, North Carolina 272886pm, March 1, 2016
Riverbend Steam StationGaston, riverbendcomments@ncdenr.govGaston College Myers Center Auditorium, 201 Highway U.S. 321 S Dallas, NC 280346pm, March 1, 2016
Sutton Power StationNew Hanover, suttoncomments@ncdenr.govCape Fear Community College, room N-202, 411 N Front St, Wilmington, NC 284016pm, March 1, 2016
Cape Fear Power StationChatham, capefearcomments@ncdenr.govCentral Carolina Community College Building 2 Multipurpose Room, 764 West St, Pittsboro, NC 273126pm, March 10, 2016
H.F. Lee Power StationWayne, leecomments@ncdenr.govWayne County Community College Auditorium, 3000 Wayne Memorial Dr, Goldsboro, NC 275346pm, March 10, 2016
Weatherspoon Steam Electric PlantRobeson, weatherspooncomments@ncdenr.govRobeson Community College A.D. Lewis Auditorium, 5160 Fayetteville Rd, Lumberton, NC 283606pm, March 10, 2016
Rogers Energy Complex (formerly Cliffside)Cleveland, rogerscomments@ncdenr.govBoiling Springs Town Hall, 114 E College Ave, Shelby, NC 281526pm, March 14, 2016
Rogers Energy Complex (formerly Cliffside)Rutherford, rogerscomments@ncdenr.govIsothermal Community College Auditorium, 286 ICC Loop Rd, Spindale, NC 281606pm, March 14, 2016
Mayo Power StationPerson, mayocomments@ncdenr.govPerson County Government Building, 304 S Morgan St, Roxboro, NC 275736pm, March 16, 2016
Roxboro Power StationPerson, roxborocomments@ncdenr.govPerson County Government Building, 304 S Morgan St, Roxboro, NC 275736pm, March 16, 2016
Allen Steam StationGaston, allencomments@ncdenr.govGaston College Myers Center Auditorium, 201 Highway U.S. 321 S Dallas, NC 280346pm, March 22, 2016
Buck Steam StationRowan, buckcomments@ncdenr.govCatawba College Room 300, 2300 W Innes St, Salisbury, NC 281446pm, March 22, 2016
Belews Creek Steam StationStokes, belewscomments@ncdenr.govWalnut Cove Public Library, 106 5th St, Walnut Cove, NC 270526pm, March 24, 2016
Marshall Steam StationCatawba, marshallcomments@ncdenr.govCatawba Valley Community College Auditorium, 2550 US-70, Hickory, NC 286026pm, March 29, 2016


PUBLIC HEARING: Duke's Proposed WNC Natural Gas Plant

On January 26 the public will have a final chance to speak out on Duke Energy's plans for a new natural gas plant in WNC before they're approved by the North Carolina Utilities Commission.

Tuesday, January 26th

Buncome County Courthouse, Court Plaza, Asheville, NC 28801

Find out more and RSVP here.

Duke Energy just applied to replace the retiring Asheville coal plant with three gas units, along with smaller investments in solar and energy storage. While the investment in energy storage is game-changing, the solar investments are too small, the gas investments too large and will keep us reliant on fossil fuels for decades to come. 

The North Carolina Utilities Commission is also asking for the public to comment on Duke's plan. Now's your chance to tell them we need more clean energy, not gas! Submit your public comment now.

Western North Carolina is prime for new solar installation and energy efficiency measures that would lower our bills and bolster the clean energy economy. This current plan is a missed opportunity.

Duke Energy has stated that it wants to avoid building a third natural gas unit by helping our community use less electricity and use it smarter. By asking the commission now approve a project that might be needed in 2023, Duke is betting against its own success. 

Speak up against Duke's plan! Say you want more clean, renewable energy and less gas! 

Share and invite your friends to the hearing on Facebook here!

For more information or to volunteer to help out please contact Emma Greenbaum at

MountainTrue and Sierra Club Respond to Duke Energy’s Revised ‘Modernization’ Project

Media contacts:
Karim Olaechea, MountainTrue
E:, C: 415-535-9004

Melissa Williams, Sierra Club
E:, C: 828-545-0443

ASHEVILLE, NC –  Duke Energy today announced a dramatic reconfiguration to their Carolinas Modernization Project, scrapping a proposed 40-mile transmission line that would have cut through the counties of Buncombe, Henderson and Polk in North Carolina and Spartanburg in South Carolina; eliminating a new substation in Campobello, S.C.; and reducing the size of a proposed new natural gas plant slated to replace the current coal-fired plant at Lake Julian outside of Asheville.

At the press conference, Duke Energy laid out the specifics of their revision: Whereas the company had initially proposed a single 650-megawatt natural gas-powered plant, Duke Energy now plans to build two side-by-side 280-megawatt natural gas units, 90 megawatts less than what was originally proposed.

The company has said that they will work with the City of Asheville to fulfill the recently adopted Clean Energy Framework and that construction of an additional 190 MW   peaking unit (one that is only used when power demand is at its high) in the mid-2020s could be delayed through greater collaboration on energy efficiency programs, renewable energy, demand-side management, and new technologies.   

Julie Mayfield, co-director of MountainTrue — the primary organizer of the Carolina Land Coalition:

“Eliminating transmission lines and a proposed substation is a significant win for the residents of Western North Carolina and upstate South Carolina. We came together, voiced our concerns, and Duke Energy heard our call. We applaud Duke for listening to our communities, going back to the drawing board and setting a new course that is more consistent with our values and respectful of our region’s natural heritage.

Today we can celebrate but tomorrow we go back to work. Though we are pleased the proposed plant is smaller than originally proposed, natural gas is still a major contributor to climate change, and our region is already feeling the impacts.

MountainTrue and the Carolina Land Coalition look forward to working with Duke Energy, the City of Asheville, and others throughout the region to marshal new resources and make meaningful investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency and demand reduction. Through that collaborative work, we can achieve the clean energy future we all want and need.”

Kelly Martin, senior campaign representative for the Beyond Coal campaign in North Carolina, said:

“We’re glad to see that Duke Energy is responding to the concerns of people in WNC by abandoning the transmission lines, paring down the scale of this oversized project, and delaying the build of a portion of the natural gas plant to give time for clean energy solutions to get in place. The cost of investing in clean, reliable, renewable energy sources is dropping rapidly. Investments in energy efficiency and clean energy are a smart bet and, if done right, could prevent the need for any more natural gas to be built in our region. The City of Asheville’s recently adopted Clean Energy Framework is a great place for these solutions to take shape.

We look forward to the day when Duke Energy ends its reliance on fossil fuels altogether, for the sake of our public health, water quality, and slowing down climate change.”

**read below for more reactions in bold**

How We Got To This Announcement


In 2009, The French Broad Riverkeeper, a program of MountainTrue, discovered that Duke Energy’s Lake Julian coal ash pits were illegally polluting the French Broad River. In 2012, MountainTrue and the Sierra Club, along with other local organizations launched the Asheville Beyond Coal campaign geared at retiring the Asheville Coal Plant, the region’s largest contributor to global climate change and air and water pollution.

The Asheville Beyond Coal campaign, and MountainTrue’s former campaign coordinator Anna Jane Joyner, were featured in last year’s Showtime’s documentary series “Years of Living Dangerously.” Additionally, the coal ash issue, and the litigation brought by the Southern Environmental Law Center on behalf of MountainTrue, the Sierra Club, the WaterKeeper Alliance and other environmental groups, was featured in local, statewide and national press, including on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show and CBS News.

In the aftermath of the Dan River spill of 2014, and under immense political, legal and public pressure, the State of North Carolina adopted the nation’s first coal ash legislation, requiring Duke Energy to address its coal ash pollution and to fully excavate coal ash at four sites around the state, including Asheville.

After three years of public campaigning and litigation by MountainTrue and the Asheville Beyond Coal campaign partners, Duke Energy announced the closing of the Asheville coal plant in the May 2015. However, in conjunction with the announcement, Duke laid out the broad strokes of the Carolinas Modernization Project: a large, new natural gas plant that would replace the coal plant on Lake Julian, a new substation for Campobello, SC, and 40 miles of transmission lines between the two.

MountainTrue worked with local leaders in Henderson and Polk Counties to establish the Carolinas Land Coalition, bringing together residents in Western North Carolina and upstate South Carolina. Over 1,271 individuals and 31 businesses and community organizations joined the coalition and called on Duke Energy to revise their plans in order to reduce the negative impact on communities and the region’s economy and environment.

On Oct. 8, 2015, Duke Energy announced that they would put their “Modernization” plans on hold in order to consider other alternatives, citing community concerns expressed through more than 9,000 public comments.

Duke Energy listened, and on Nov. 4, the company announced a revised plan that eliminates the contested Campobello substation and the 40-miles of transmission lines, and reduces the proposed size of the natural gas plant on Lake Julian.

“This is a testament to what’s possible when communities come together to demand a better future for us all. This movement has been truly awe-inspiring, with neighbors and strangers alike coming together on common ground,” says Joan Walker, campaign coordinator for MountainTrue and Carolina Land Coalition. “We’ve made real progress and we couldn’t have done that without the tireless efforts of folks throughout the foothills and mountains.”

For many residents, involvement in the Carolina Land Coalition was a new experience in community organizing and environmental advocacy. Phillip Brown, a member of the Carolina Land Coalition and a farmer and resident of Mills River whose family has lived in the area since the 1830s, explained, “I, like many of us, don’t generally get out and participate in political protests and activism. However, this was a fight we just couldn’t stay out of. While I’m glad to see that Duke has made a better decision now, I think it’s important that we all stay vigilant to make sure they keep making the right decisions for the people of Western North Carolina. We’re in this fight for the long haul. It’s not just about my backyard anymore, it’s about our land, our homes and keeping and maintaining the natural heritage of Western North Carolina and the Foothills for the future.”

Mark Stierwalt, southern regional director for MountainTrue is cautiously hopeful. “We’ve dodged a bullet. This is a win, but there’s still much work to be done. The coalition needs to remain attentive and hold Duke to its promises.”For MountainTrue, this is an improvement over the immediate harms of coal, but the revised plan still commits the region to decades of dependence on fossil-fuels, namely natural gas — a powerful greenhouse gas.

North Carolina and South Carolina public utility regulators will hold public hearings on Duke Energy’s plan in the near future. MountainTrue, the Carolina Land Coalition and the Sierra Club will be rallying public comment and accessing opportunities to engage in the public utility regulators’ permitting processes. We will also be scrutinizing the plan, mobilizing residents throughout the region and advocating for the best solutions for Western North Carolina and upstate South Carolina. MountainTrue will promote greater use of energy efficiency by educating the public about existing programs that help them cut their use and shrink their electric bills. For guides to WNC energy efficiency programs,

To keep up with the latest news and events, visit

CLC Picnic flyer


Recently we received some great news regarding Duke Energy's Western Carolinas "Modernization" plan. In response to the tremendous public outcry and over 9,000 public comments, the utility is extending their review process through early November. During this time, Duke says they'll consider alternative solutions to the transmission lines, substation and gas plant. We should all be proud of the work we've done. We're having an impact! 
Duke says they're listening, so now more than ever it's crucial to keep telling them what we want: A truly modern plan for our energy future that respects our communities' values, needs and love of the land; that includes more renewables and greater use of energy efficiency programs; and lessens our reliance on fossil fuels. 
You've made your voice heard at hearings and meetings, in the media and with your friends and family. Your next chance to speak out is Sunday, October 18th at the Protect Our Land Picnic, from 2-5pm at the Historic Henderson County Courthouse. Come celebrate our success so far with food, fun and music. Take action to keep the pressure on Duke Energy to do the right thing! 
Thank you for all you've done to get us to this moment, I look forward to seeing you on October 18th!
-Joan Walker, MountainTrue

Oct. 8, 2015
Media Contacts:
Karim Olaechea, MountainTrue
C: 415-535-9004
Melissa Williams, Sierra Club
C: 828-545-0443

Environmental advocates respond to Duke Energy’s review of its ‘Western Carolinas Modernization’ project


ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Duke Energy today announced delay its plans and reconsider its options to its originally proposed Western Carolinas Modernization project, which includes a new natural gas-powered station at Lake Julian, “foothill” transmission lines and a new substation in Campobello, S.C.

Duke Energy cited community concerns expressed through more than 9,000 public comments that the utility received from customers and the affected community as the reason to extend the review and to consider alternatives to all components of this plan.

Statement from Julie Mayfield, co-director of MountainTrue:

“We are pleased that Duke Energy is responding to the needs and desires of the people of Western North Carolina and upstate South Carolina. This decision shows what is possible when a community unites to protect the land that we all love, and when a company listens. More than 9,000 concerned residents made their voices heard, and local elected leaders should be thanked for standing strong. As Duke considers its options, we hope they will propose a new plan that respects our communities’ values, needs, and love of the land; includes more renewables and greater use of energy efficiency programs; and lessens our reliance on fossil fuels.

As Duke undertakes its analysis, we will remain united through our partnership with the Carolina Land Coalition. Join the coalition next Sunday, Oct. 18, at the Historic Henderson County Courthouse in Hendersonville for a picnic and rally as we continue to build momentum and move forward a better energy future for all of us.”

Statement from Kelly Martin, senior campaign representative for Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign in North Carolina:

“It’s great to see Duke Energy is reconsidering its plans and responding to public outcry about the scale and impact of that building an oversized natural gas plant and massive transmission lines will have on our community.

Duke should now do what it should have from the start: develop a truly modern plan for Western North Carolina that maximizes investments in solar energy, energy efficiency, and battery storage rather than locking our region into reliance on fossil fuel electricity for generations to come.  Clean energy investments are the best bet not only for public health and the environment, but also for the Duke’s customers who will foot the bill for the modernization project.

Energy efficiency measures and solar power are among the most affordable, lowest cost options for electricity, and we expect Duke Energy to take this into account in planning for Western North Carolina’s energy future.”

Statement from Cathy Jackson, vice-president Saluda Business Association and member of the Carolina Land Coalition:

“It’s great that Duke Energy is finally taking the concerns of our communities seriously. We expect this process to lead to a more responsible proposal that address our energy needs without adversely affecting public health, the beauty of our land or the economy of the region. We will stay alert and united through the Carolina Land Coalition, and I invite all concerned residents to join us on October 18, at the Historic Henderson County Courthouse in Hendersonville for the Protect Our Land Community Picnic. Let’s keep the pressure up!”

About MountainTrue
MountainTrue fosters and empowers communities throughout the region and engages in policy and project advocacy, outreach and education, and on the ground projects. To achieve our goals, MountainTrue focuses on a core set of issues across 23 counties of Western North Carolina: sensible land use, restoring public forests, protecting water quality and promoting clean energy – all of which have a high impact on the environmental health and long-term prosperity of our residents. MountainTrue is the home of the Watauga Riverkeeper, the primary watchdog and spokesperson for the Elk and Watauga Rivers, and French Broad Riverkeeper, the primary protector and defender of the French Broad River watershed. For more information:

About the Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 2.4 million members and supporters nationwide. In addition to creating opportunities for people of all ages, levels and locations to have meaningful outdoor experiences, the Sierra Club works to safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and litigation. For more information, visit

About the Carolina Land Coalition
We are a group of residents, business owners, visitors and ratepayers that are concerned about transmission lines and scale of the new natural gas plant and substation proposed by Duke Energy in the Western Carolinas Foothills Modernization Plan. For more information:



Sierra Club and MountainTrue talk Duke Energy's plan to further fossilize Western North Carolina.

"So far, Duke has not provided solid data to support its claim that our region needs this massive buildout. Thousands of WNC and Upstate South Carolina residents want and deserve to know the justification for this project and whether Duke is choosing the most economically and environmentally viable solution option. Has Duke even analyzed the opportunities for clean, renewable energy to power our region? Where is their commitment to the city partnership to work toward clean energy solutions?"

Read the full article here.


We have a late coming opportunity to speak out against Duke Energy's proposed "modernization" plan that we hope folks can take advantage of.

NCUC Public Staff Informational Hearing

The Public Staff will facilitate an informational meeting concerning Duke Energy’s proposed Foothills Transmission Line project. 

Blue Ridge Community College Conference Hall

Thursday, September 3, 2015 from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.

For more information visit the Public Staff website here.

Tomorrow, September 3rd, the Public Staff of the NC Utilities Commission will be holding an informational hearing about the new "modernization" at Blue Ridge Community College at 6pm, with a specific focus on the propsed Foothills Transmission Line Project. Duke Energy representatives will be present to address questions from the Public Staff, and will hear concerns from impacted community members.

Even if transmission lines won't run through your back yard, as Duke Energy ratepayers, we will all pay the $1.1 billion price tag new plant and lines bear the other costs like lost tourism revenue, fragmented forests and more.

We believe that Duke Energy's "modernization" plan is anything but. It would lock our region into sourcing our electricity from fossil fuels for decades to come, and will squeeze out the market for renewables and energy efficiency. The Public Staff needs to hear from YOU about your concerns about transmission lines and the new natural gas capacity that threaten our ability to realize our vision for a clean energy future in Western North Carolina. 

Though speaking out in person at the hearing is the best way to challenege this plan, if you are unable to join us please consider taking action:

  • Get involved with the Carolina Land Coalition, a partnership between MountainTrue and community groups challenging Duke's plans
  • Spread the word with flyers you can download here.

Asheville Beyond Coal Summer Update

Thank you.

Thank you for being part of moving Asheville beyond coal. This Herculean effort was only possible because of your passion and dedication to creating a sustainable, clean energy future for WNC.

When we set out three years ago on the path of this campaign, more than a few people said it success wasn’t possible. Together, we were on the cutting edge; though coal plants across the country are retiring, Asheville was a long shot -success depended on the will, commitment and passion of this community.  

We have shown Duke that we are powerful, and that we will hold them accountable to bring the fossil-free clean energy future that Western North Carolina  deserves.

Many of us may feel this victory in securing closure of the coal plant is bittersweet, but that doesn’t discount the progress we’ve made. The French Broad will no longer be polluted with toxic coal ash. Lake Julian will no longer be too hot to support native fish populations. Local air pollution should be greatly reduced. 

While Duke heard our call to retire coal, it failed us in its decision to build a new natural gas plant. Now is the time to continue to build this movement and call for the fossil fuel-free clean energy future we know we can achieve. We are stronger than we’ve ever been before- let’s continue this journey together.

Do you remember the time?

In late 2013, Asheville Beyond Coal was instrumental in the passage of the City’s Clean Energy resolution. That created a partnership between Duke, the City and community partners tasked with developing a plan for clean energy in Asheville. Join us this summer to call on Duke and the City of Asheville to make good on their promise.

Stay tuned throughout the summer for what we’ll be doing to bring real commitments for solar and energy efficiency to our community.

You are not alone…

Our small corner of the world is not the only place where the Beyond Coal movement is building; communities across the country have been calling for our nation to move off coal for more than a decade.

Now for the first time, the federal government is taking real action on climate change by releasing the final Clean Power Plan, limiting carbon emissions from power plants. Here’s how you can get involved in this historic moment:

July 13 Join us for a Clean Power Plan activist meeting, learn more about the Clean Power Plan and how you can take action locally. (link)

July 21 Join with hundreds of others across the state to call on North Carolina’s state leadership and McCrory to get North Carolina on track for cutting carbon emissions. (link)

Late July or Early August- folks across the state will be joining in on events to thank the EPA for releasing the final Clean Power Plan protections and calling on Gov. McCrory to act on climate as well.

Thank you again for everything you have done to bring real change to energy in Western North Carolina, we look forward to continuing the journey together!



Transition to natural gas misses opportunity for investment in renewable energy

Statement from memeber organzations of the Asheville Beyond Coal coalition

Full release can be viewed here.

“For the last three years the Asheville Beyond Coal Campaign and thousands of individuals have called on Duke Energy to transition our region off of coal. This has been a struggle to protect our health, our families and our communities. It has required tireless effort to pursue a brighter vision for Asheville. We can declare victory in securing closure of the plant, for it means an end is in sight for the air, water, and carbon pollution from this plant, but Duke’s announcement to build new gas is inconsistent with the clean energy vision we have called for.

“While we applaud Duke’s decision to retire the Asheville plant, Duke failed to hear what people wanted in its place. Folks want a bright future that supports clean energy, not a giant gas plant polluting Asheville for another 30 years. North Carolina has the opportunity to be a leader in clean energy generation through aggressive investments in solar power, and Duke Energy must be a partner in that effort – but moves like this deeply undermine the ability to bring online clean, reliable 21st century energy options that will create good jobs right here at home.

“North Carolinians deserve clean water and home grown electricity options that invest in local communities and create jobs here in our community. North Carolina has some of the best potential in the nation to harvest the sun for our power needs but Duke Energy must be a partner in that investment if the state is ever to see the real benefits of clean energy.  While the proposed solar farm is a step in the right direction, it falls far short of the investment needed to move the region to a clean energy future.

“Additionally, this announcement does nothing to address evidence of unsafe air pollution from the Asheville Plant; under Duke's proposal, the plant could continue to emit sulfur dioxide at levels that threaten public health until the coal-burning units are retired. 

“The retirement of the Asheville Plant is a step in the right direction, but it is a half measure, undermined by continuing reliance on an economically unpredictable and polluting source of power. Duke can do better, and our community deserves better.  We will continue to use every tool at our disposal to fight for clean energy solutions for Western North Carolina”

Media responds:

What other organizations are saying:

Southern Alliance for Clean Energy statement:

Appalachian Voices statement:

Air Quality Public Hearing April 29

The Western North Carolina Regional Air Quality Agency is in the process of updating the air permit for the Asheville coal plant.
Attend the Public Hearing to voice your support for clean air:
What: WNC Regional Air Quality Agency Public Hearing
Date: Wednesday, April 29
Time: 6:00 PM
Where: Clyde A. Erwin High School Auditorium, 60 Lees Creek Rd., Asheville, NC 28806
Send a comment in advance of the hearing to the air quality agency here: TAKE ACTION

View full screen.

Air disperson modeling reveals SO2 pollution at concentrations higher than what the EPA considers a safe level (196 micrograms per cubic meter (ug/m3)).

Shaded areas include locations where SO2 concentrations were calculated at:

between 196 and 299 ug/m3 (yellow)
between 300 and 399 ug/m3 (orange)
between 400 and 499 ug/m3 (red)
500 ug/m3 and higher (purple)

Duke Energy’s Asheville coal plant has threatened local public health for decades. Now, new evidence demonstrates that the plant has been emitting harmful sulfur dioxide (SO2) pollution at levels considered unsafe by the Environmental Protection Agency for the past several years. An air modeling study by Air Resource Specialists shows that concentrations of SO2 in the air near people’s homes downwind of the Asheville plant are up to 3.5 times higher than what EPA has determined to be safe. The plant’s pollution has exceeded these minimum public health standards approximately one out of every three to four days since 2010. An analysis of operations at the plant points to the two causes of this increased pollution: Duke apparently has been running its pollution protection technology less and, at the same time, has switched to cheaper, higher-sulfur coal. The likely reason for these changes is to reduce the cost of running this plant, which is one of Duke’s most expensive to operate. 

Duke is choosing profits over the safety of our families by apparently failing to run its control protections fully and by using cheaper coal with more sulfur in it.

Read the full reports.

Sign our petition to tell Duke: It’s time to take responsibility for this pollution and protect the health of our community—not just some of the time, but all the time.


Yogis Beyond Coal

Local activist group Yogis Beyond Coal joined with Sierra Club to co-host an event in Pack Square Park in Asheville, highlighting community concerns with the local coal-fired power plant. The gathering, called Move for the Movement, sought to underscore that healthy living and clean energy are two sides of the same coin for Asheville residents... Read more via MXpress.


Asheville Beyond Coal Testimonials

Thank you to community members who are spreading the word about a clean energy future here in Asheville and Western North Carolina.




Learn about how you can join the conversation:


Years Project Screenings

From the Asheville Green Carpet Premiere:

Asheville City Council Member Gwen Wisler and Buncombe County Commissioner Brownie Newman

Representative Joe Sam Queen with WNCA's Julie Mayfield and Anna Jane Joyner

Emma Greenbaum, Julie Mayfield, Kelly Martin, Mary Anne Hitt, Anna Jane Joyner, and Dayna Reggero of Asheville Beyond Coal Coalition

From the Charlotte "Preacher's Daughter" Screening:

Mary Anne Hitt, Beyond Coal Campaign Director talks with FOX Carolinas

Panel discussion in Charlotte

From the Asheville "Preacher's Daughter" Screening:

Melissa Williams of WNCA, Asheville Beyond Coal Coalition

Showtime's Years of Living Dangerously episode four, "Preacher's Daughter," features Asheville Beyond Coal Coalition's Anna Jane Joyner of the Western North Carolina Alliance, celebrity correspondent Ian Somerhalder, and Beyond Coal campaign director Mary Anne Hitt. Go behind-the-scenes: Filming locations included the Asheville Beyond Coal rally and Duke Energy's Asheville coal plant.

Thank you to Highland Brewing Company, French Broad Chocolate Lounge, Katuah Market, New Mountain Music Park, and Gypsy Queen Cuisine Food Truck.


National Spotlight on Duke Energy's Asheville Coal Plant

Tune in tonight at 10PM for Showtime's Years of Living Dangerously!

Why is this important? “Duke Energy’s Asheville coal plant is the largest source of climate-disrupting pollution in Western North Carolina,” says Mary Anne Hitt, Beyond Coal campaign director and #YearsProject expert. “Doubling down on renewable energy and energy efficiency is the quickest, most effective way to roll back the worst effects of climate disruption.”

As the national spotlight shines on Duke Energy, we want to thank them for considering a plan to retire the Asheville coal plant that threatens the health of our residents and the livelihood of our mountains and rivers.

If Duke Energy meets the demands of the community and phases out its coal plant, the Asheville plant will be the 163rd plant in the nation to be retired since 2010.

Let's move Beyond Coal to a clean energy future! Take action now!



Spread the word: Showtime presents Years of Living Dangerously featuring Asheville Beyond Coal Sunday, May 4th at 10PM.


Join the conversation right now!


Light the Path Forward : April 30 Candlelight Vigil to Remember the Impacts of Coal Ash and Climate Change **Cancelled due to weather**

Make plans to also join the Duke Energy Shareholder Meeting Rally and Press Conference on Thursday, May 1st. 8:30 AM arrive and set up for 9:00 AM rally and press conference. Located at the former Duke Energy headquarters, 526 South Church St, Charlotte, NC (location of shareholder meeting). Details:


WNC Faith Community Letter to Duke Energy in Asheville Citizen-Times

Editor’s note: The following letter was submitted to the Citizen-Times by clergy from about 70 area congregations. Some of them will attend the Duke Energy shareholder meeting on May 1 in Charlotte to deliver this letter to Duke leaders in person.

"We are writing as leaders of local churches and faith communities. We feel obliged to act as faithful stewards of God’s creation. We write today because we need your leadership to achieve a sustainable future where our energy needs are met without depending on fossil fuels" ... Read the full letter.


Duke Energy Coal Ash Spill Protest


Clean water advocates and environmental groups from North Carolina delivered nine thousand petitions to Duke Energy, calling on the nation’s largest energy company to act immediately to protect North Carolina’s drinking water and take full responsibility for the costs of the Dan River coal ash spill and ongoing coal ash contamination across the state. Event speakers, representing tens of thousands of members and supporters in North Carolina, made it clear that Duke Energy shareholders, not customers, should pay to clean up the company’s 13 additional outdated and risky coal ash storage pits across the state.

Duke Energy owns and operates 14 coal ash disposal sites in North Carolina, eight of which are rated high-hazard, meaning a breach has a high likelihood of causing death or serious injuries for people.


Hollywood Highlights Asheville Beyond Coal Campaign

Nearly 300 hundred people gathered in Asheville this evening for the green carpet premiere of “Years of Living Dangerously,” a groundbreaking SHOWTIME® documentary series exploring the human impact of climate change. The series highlights the work of the Asheville Beyond Coal coalition through the story of activist, Anna Jane Joyner.

“Years of Living Dangerously” is composed of several one-hour segments airing on SHOWTIME®, starting April 13. The series combines the storytelling styles of Hollywood’s top movie makers to reveal critical stories of heartbreak, hope and heroism as the race to save the planet continues.

Following the film, both Joyner and Beyond Coal campaign director Mary Anne Hitt, as well as the Asheville audience, joined James Cameron, Chris Hayes, Ian Somerhalder and the producers of the series through for a question and answer session on Google+.

Joyner, her father Rick Joyner, and Mary Anne were interviewed by actor/activist Ian Somerhalder for an upcoming segment titled “Preacher’s Daughter,” airing May 4.

The Asheville Beyond Coal Coalition is celebrating its two year mark, as Duke Energy is publicly considering a plan to phase out the coal-burning units at its Asheville plant.

“Over the last two years, a grassroots movement of faith leaders, business leaders and public officials has sprung up to show that burning coal in our backyard does not match our community’s values,” says Kelly Martin, Sierra Club senior campaign representative.

The Asheville event, held at Highland Brewing Co., was hosted by Asheville Beyond Coal and its partners: Sierra Club, Western North Carolina Alliance, Transition Asheville, French Broad Riverkeeper, Southwings and Accelerating Appalachia. Big thanks to event sponsors: Highland Brewing Company, French Broad Chocolate Lounge, Sweet Monkey Bakery and Katuah Market.

To learn more about “Years of Living Dangerously” and to see a preview of “Preacher’s Daughter, visit:

Years of Living Dangerously Series Premiere

Watch Years of Living Dangerously Episode 1 Series Premiere below before the big premiere Sunday, April 13th on Showtime. And, don't miss the upcoming Preacher's Daughter episode about Asheville's Anna Jane Joyner, Western North Carolina Alliance Coordinator, and featuring expert, Beyond Coal Campaign Director, Mary Anne Hitt. Check out a sneak preview of Preacher's Daughter here.

“Now, when I think of climate change I don’t think of polar bears or glaciers or graphs, I think of the loss of our high elevation mountain forests, the loss of species and ecosystems that make our Blue Ridge Mountains some of the most beautiful and special in the world. I think of my neighbors who are farmers and lost much of their crop, and profits, to the torrential floods we experienced last summer.” - Anna Jane Joyner talks about filming #YearsProject.


Years of Living Dangerously features Asheville Beyond Coal 

The new #YearsProject website has launched and offers "What We Can Do" section with call to action to move beyond coal!


Duke Energy Offers Plan to Remove Dangerous Coal Ash Pits, Considers Retiring Asheville Coal Plant

Thursday, March 13, 2014

CHARLOTTE, NC – In response to Governor Pat McCrory’s request, Duke Energy has shared its plan to address ongoing dangerous and illegal pollution at all of its coal ash storage sites in North Carolina.

Senior Campaign Representative Kelly Martin issued the following statement in response:

“On behalf of the Sierra Club’s thousands of North Carolina members and supporters, I want to recognize Duke Energy’s leadership for taking responsibility for the tragic Dan River coal ash spill. CEO Lynn Good has made it clear that she and the company realize that wet storage of toxic coal ash waste is dangerous, threatening our clean water and treasured lakes, rivers and streams. Converting risky wet storage at all coal ash waste sites is a strong first step toward cleaning up Duke Energy’s toxic legacy in North Carolina.

On behalf of thousands of Asheville and Buncombe County residents, I applaud Duke Energy for publicly considering a plan to phase out the coal-burning units at its Asheville plant. Over the last two years, a grassroots movement of faith leaders, business leaders and public officials has sprung up to show that burning coal in our backyard does not match our community’s values. If Duke Energy meets the demands of the community and phases out its coal plant, the Asheville plant will be the 163rd plant in the nation to be retired since 2010. Moving Asheville beyond coal is a critical step for Duke Energy as it takes responsibility for its errors and sets a new path forward.

Finally, while Duke Energy’s plan is a good first step, it is incomplete and does not fully rise to the challenge presented. Without more information, North Carolinians cannot be sure that their right to clean, safe drinking water will be protected. Without a clear commitment, hard-working families cannot be sure that one of the nation’s most prosperous companies won’t pass the buck. As the Sierra Club and our partners in North Carolina have demonstrated, environmental advocates are key voices for holding polluters and regulators accountable. We are only beginning to show the strength of our voices for North Carolina’s people and environment.”



Sierra Club members, supporters, partners and allies have worked tirelessly to retire 150 coal-fired power plants since January 2010 -- a significant milestone in the campaign to move the country beyond dirty and outdated fossil fuels. Thousands of activists have come together to help save their communities from dangerous pollution from coal-fired power plants. These plants not only hurt our air, our water, and our health but also our wallets. The retirement of these coal-fired power plants will help save lives, prevent asthma and heart attacks, and save billions in health costs. While these antiquated coal plants are being retired, the U.S. is ramping up production of clean, renewable energy sources like wind and solar. This is a huge win for our communities and for future generations.

Thank you Asheville! 

Together we will move Western North Carolina to a clean energy future.

Check out the video from our rally on August 24th in downtown Asheville! This rally was also filmed by Showtime and may appear in upcoming docu-series, Years of Living Dangerously.


On Saturday, August 24, hundreds of Asheville residents and clean energy supporters in North Carolina rallied in a packed park space downtown as Beyond Coal Campaign Director Mary Anne Hitt joined Ian Somerhalder, star of "The Vampire Diaries" and a passionate environmental activist. Mary Anne led a text message action with hundreds of participants calling on Duke Energy to retire its Asheville coal plant, the largest source of carbon pollution in Western North Carolina. Ian inspired the ralliers by calling for America, especially the South, to double down on clean energy and build our economy with good clean energy jobs.

Learn More


The Asheville Coal Plant is the largest single source of CO2 pollution in Western North Carolina. With record high temperatures accross the country, raging wildfires in the Southwest and disasters like Superstorm Sandy, it is clear that climate disruption is happening right now. Even here in WNC, we are at risk of losing precious eco-systems, and suffering from increasingly strong storms.

In order to protect our environment and communities from the dangers of coal including climate disruption, the Western North Carolina Alliance, North Carolina Interfaith Power and Light, Southwings, Riverkeeper, and the Sierra Club are proud to be founding members of the Asheville Beyond Coal Coalition.

United as a coalition, we seek to:

  • Lead a transition from the use of fossil fuel energy to a reliance on clean, safe and renewable energy sources
  • Make energy conservation and efficiency a priority in reducing energy demand in Western North Carolina
  • Replace jobs dependent on fossil fuels with jobs centered on conservation, efficiency and renewable energy technologies.
  • Secure retirement of the Asheville Coal Plant and clean-up of any legacy pollution, including the coal ash lagoons  

In addition to the threat to our global climate, the plant’s two toxic coal-ash lagoons above I-26 and the French Broad River are seeping into the groundwater, threatening the river and our community.  Air pollution from coal-burning power plants makes our kids sick. Nationally, coal pollution is responsible for triggering 13,000 asthma attacks and more than $100 billion in health costs each year.  This coal plant is too dirty and dangerous for Asheville.


Check out community leaders supporting the transition to a clean energy economy: