By Wendy Byerly Wood
March 7, 2014
NORTH WILKESBORO — A long-time supervisor in the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), who resigned her position in protest against the cuts and changes of direction in the agency responsible for protecting the environment, will be the keynote speaker in the annual Democratic Party Century Club Saturday beginning at 6 p.m. at the Elks Lodge in North Wilkesboro.
Amy Adams is now North Carolina campaign coordinator for the Boone-based Appalachian Voices, a nonprofit that helps give voice to people who care about the natural heritage. She has been an active monitor of the spill from a Duke Energy coal ash storage pond and has been quoted extensively both in North Carolina and nationally. In early February, the spill allowed 39,000 tons of coal ash into the Dan River, which has ultimately coated the river bottom 70 miles downstream and threatened drinking water and aquatic life.
Larry Pendry, chair of the Wilkes Democratic Party, said, “We are fortunate to have Amy Adams share her personal experience not only as a long time public servant in the Division of Water Quality but also as an on-the-scene monitor of the disastrous spill on the Dan River. Those of us whose lives and well-being are so tied to the Yadkin and Reddies Rivers will be particularly interested in her commentary.”
Prior to the spill, last December, Adams publicly announced her resignation in a column in the Raleigh News and Observer. She wrote, “… staffers are under great pressure to essentially trust the industry’s word that everything is in order. (The phrase ‘a fox guarding the hen house’ comes to mind.) I did not sign on to my DENR job to wield a rubber stamp.”
The resignation came after the environment agency’s budget for water pollution programs was cut by 10.2 percent; a bipartisan commission that approves regulations was reorganized to include only Republican appointees; and the governor vastly expanded the number of agency employees exempt from civil service protections from 24 to 179. (New York Times, 2.28.14)
Explaining her resignation, Adams said, “What’s at stake is nothing less than having clean water to drink, healthy streams in which to fish and swim, air to breathe and green space where wildlife can thrive and where our children can play.”
The General Assembly’s legislation reorganizing DENR resulted in deep cuts to staff and resources. The Division of Water Quality staff, for example, will likely be 24 percent smaller this month than it was in early 2011.
Adams said, “Do more with less’ has become the mantra of upper management, but we in the ranks heard the message loud and clear: ‘Do less. Period.’”
The Century Club Dinner is a long tradition in Wilkes County. This year the club is sponsoring a “New Faces Discount” for the dinner event worth $10 each on the dinner expense of $25 per person. Any Wilkes resident who has not attended the dinner in the past may apply for the discount by calling 336-973 7839, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or requesting the discount on line at http://wilkesdemocrats.com/. The discount is available no later than midnight on Wednesday.