What Others Are Saying

 

Kieran Shanahan
Chairman
N.C. Property Rights Coalition 

 

“The North Carolina Property Rights Coalition is greatly concerned about the attempt by state government to take over Alcoa’s property in North Carolina.  Alcoa is a private business that paid for and developed the land it owns.  If the state is allowed to seize Alcoa's property, how vulnerable are private citizens and small business owners to the same type of government takeover?  Private property rights are one of the cornerstones of our free society, yet every day we hear more stories of federal, state and local governments infringing on private property rights.  Private property owners all over North Carolina should take notice of this issue and speak out in defense of their private property rights.”

 

The Lexington Dispatch Editorial 
April 22, 2009

Legislators need to pause and think carefully about the path they’re heading down. If they take over this private business, what’s to keep them from doing it to others? And should they do that and then allow another business to operate it, then that would be a particularly troubling development. Certainly reasonable safeguards that ensure water access are justified, but the license already covers that ground. …

Finally, politics shouldn’t come into play on the water quality permit. That decision should be based on the technical aspects alone. If legislators truly want to take over the project, they can attempt to do that through legislation. State regulatory bodies should remain free of political pressure to issue a certain decision.


The Salisbury Post
April 21, 2009
 

NC and Alcoa: Takeover is anti-business
Supporters of a state takeover of Alcoa's Yadkin Hydroelectric Project argue the action is justified because of lost jobs at Badin Works, the need for better water control, potential state revenues to be gained from the sale of electricity, environmental issues and because the Yadkin River is a public resource whose benefits should flow primarily to the people of the North Carolina.

Let's look at some of these issues:

Jobs: If loss of jobs is justification for the state to take over a company, then Freightliner, Food Lion and other businesses better line up their legal defenses. It's unfortunate that the Alcoa jobs vanished, along with tens of thousands of textile, tobacco and furniture manufacturing jobs across the region. But Alcoa's operation of these dams was never made contingent on employment figures, and a state takeover won't resurrect the smelters or bring back those jobs. It will simply make other companies think twice about investing in North Carolina.

Water control: Lake levels at High Rock and downstream impoundments have been an issue in the past, particularly during drought, and will likely be so in the future. That's one of the reasons for the federal relicensing process — to address such concerns, and Alcoa's relicensing proposal gained the approval of 23 local, regional and state groups, including the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. The relicensing agreement includes stronger drought protection and improved water management. A state takeover won't stave off drought, sedimentation or farmland runoff, nor will it magically balance the competing needs of Yadkin River users.

Potential revenue: Takeover advocates argue the state is entitled to Alcoa's revenues because they are generated via a public resource. Whether profits are $44 million (as takeover advocates claim) or $8 million (as Alcoa says), the principle is the same. If a business' use of a public resource means the public is entitled to the profits, the state could take over many other businesses — including other small hydroelectric operations. In reality, every business benefits to some degree from public resources, whether it's a river, local water and sewage lines, interstate highways or municipal airports. But the public benefits in turn from the payment of corporate income and property taxes.

Environmental cleanup: Like water-level issues, this is an ongoing concern, especially in light of questions about PCB contamination of fish in Badin Lake. However, Alcoa has shown a willingness in the past to work with state and federal officials to address such problems. Under federal law, it has a permanent legal responsibility to remediate environmental problems. Again, if the state believes Alcoa is not fulfilling its legal obligations, that's an issue worth contending, but it's not a justification for takeover. State ownership won't spontaneously solve any remaining environmental problems; it will simply shift more of the burden to the state and its taxpayers.

Supporters of this state takeover, including Rowan Reps. Lorene Coates and Fred Steen, may raise some legitimate issues, but they fall far short of justifying the hostile usurpation of a private business that has operated in the state for more than 90 years. Rather than resulting in a public trust to operate Alcoa's dams, the takeover talk is more likely to create mistrust of North Carolina's business climate and invite a costly court battle.


Stanly News & Press
April 7, 2009
 

  

Letter to the Editor: Charlotte native responds to Alcoa issue 

Richard Glenn

  

I would like to express my concerns about an issue occurring in North Carolina that is truly a slippery slope into socialism.

When I pick up my newspaper in the morning, I have begun to have moments of déjà vu about a very difficult experience I had in Venezuela.

I would like to share my concerns about commonalities between my experience and the current efforts of the North Carolina government to assume ownership of the Alcoa's Yadkin projects.

  

I have spent over 20 years in South America working on hydroelectric dams.

  

I was working on the Guri Dam in the eastern region of Venezuela during the time Hugo Chavez was undertaking the acquisition of the country's private industry.

  

It started very small just like the forced acquisition of Alcoa's Yadkin projects and ended up with a country that is now state run and has evolved from a healthy democracy to an almost certain dictatorship.

  

The oil fields in Lake Maracaibo are no longer as profitable, well maintained or environmentally safe; the dams operate without proper repairs; and the world class highway system from Caracas to Port Adoz is no longer a gem for transportation.

   

I read the newspapers at that time and listened to the speeches.

  

Chavez was using terms such as “this would be best for the citizens,” these companies are “sending profits overseas,” and so forth.

  

These exact phrases have been used in statements made by representatives of the Governor’s office and local politicians.

  

Before the Governor and Stanly County Commissioners lead the citizens of North Carolina down this path, they need to explain the numbers and the real economic impact.
  

  

Stanly News & Press
April 7, 2009
 

  

Letter to the Editor: Response to Gov. Perdue
Beth Livingston

  

This letter is to express our concerns in connection with the delay of the approval of the application of Alcoa Power Generating, Inc. pending before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. …

  

We certainly agree with Albemarle Mayor Whit Whitley, as do many residents of Stanly County, and share his concerns that these efforts will make it more difficult to attract new companies to both Stanly and Davidson Counties. …

  

A new license will allow ALL North Carolina residents to reap the benefits associated with new recreational opportunities, more stable water levels, improved water quality, and increased land conservation.

High Point Enterprise

Editorial

April 6, 2009 

  

Some among us believe the Obama administration has headed the nation toward socialism with its federal bailouts and takeovers. Move over, Mr. President, let North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue show you how it's done.

Perdue has decided that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission should deny a license for Alcoa Power Generating to operate High Rock Lake Dam in Davidson County and three other hydroelectric dams on the Yadkin River. Instead, the governor says, the feds should allow the state of North Carolina to run those hydroelectric plants. …

What Perdue forgets – or ignores – is that while the Yadkin River is public water, the dams and beds of lakes along the Yadkin belong to Alcoa. …

If this somehow falls short of the definition of socialism, then it surely is gubernatorial abuse of authority.

Click here to read the entire editorial.

  

Stanley News & Press
March 29, 2009
 

Letter to the Editor: Get the message? 

By Bill Garland, Albemarle

“The spending of county funds for legal services … which could have been useful toward many of the needs of the county is one of the symptoms of poor wisdom by those elected to serve.”


Rick Glenn
President, Glenn Underwater Services
Letter to NC Gov. Bev Perdue
March 16, 2009
 

“Glenn Underwater Services, Inc. will find itself relocating out of North Carolina if the APGI facilities and power generation capabilities are taken over by the state.”



Letter to NC Gov. Beverly Perdue
March 2, 2009
 

“… greed for the ownership of Alcoa’s land around the lakes and greed for the revenue that the dams produce are not in the long term best interest of (Stanly) County or the State and certainly not in the best interest of the free enterprise system.”



Albemarle Mayor Whit Whitley
Letter to NC Gov. Beverly Perdue
March 2, 2009
 

“… greed for the ownership of Alcoa’s land around the lakes and greed for the revenue that the dams produce are not in the long term best interest of (Stanly) County or the State and certainly not in the best interest of the free enterprise system.”

Click here to read the entire letter.



The Charlotte Observer
March 4, 2009
 

Mayor says greed spurs Alcoa fight
By Bruce Henderson

The nearly $1 million Stanly County has spent to fight renewal of Alcoa's Yadkin River hydroelectric license is "motivated by greed," says the mayor of the county seat, Albemarle.

The county is aggressively lobbying to reclaim the federal license, which Alcoa has held for more than 50 years, and place it in public hands. Alcoa's aluminum works, once Stanly's largest employer, has closed and its hydro power is sold on the open market.

This week Albemarle Mayor Elbert Whitley Jr. wrote Gov. Bev Perdue, who has expressed personal misgivings about renewing Alcoa's license, to defend the company.

Whitley questioned the county's spending $965,000 over three years on lawyers and public relations experts to make its case.

“Why is this issue even on the table?” Whitley wrote. “The only true consideration is greed, and I am appalled that the state of North Carolina is buying into this type of thinking.”

Whitley, a Democrat, charged in an interview that the Republican-majority county commissioners want Alcoa's millions of dollars in hydro revenue and thousands of acres it owns around the four Yadkin reservoirs.

If the commissioners win, he predicted, new industries that use natural resources will be afraid to locate in Stanly.

County manager Andy Lucas suspects Whitley also has a financial motive.

Alcoa's proposed license terms allow Albemarle to draw up to 11 million gallons of water a day from the company's reservoirs without charge.

“They've been given a financial incentive to go along with Alcoa on this,” he said.

“We believe we need to protect the water and that's why we've spent nearly $1 million on this. We think it's an investment in our future to protect that resource and keep jobs in this region.”

Stanly is paying law firms in Raleigh and Washington, D.C., as well as a Raleigh public relations firm to make its case. Lucas said he doesn't know what future costs may total. The county has a $60 million annual budget.

If the county gets what it wants, Lucas said, its expenses will be repaid “many times over.”


Stanly News & Press
February 17, 2009
 

 

Letter to the Editor: Reserve fund is needed

By Thomas M. McCluskey, New London

  

I read with some interest the Report to the People offered to us recently and knowing of my interest in our local government’s desire to steal ALCOA’s hydroelectric generation facilities, I looked for the expenditures of our tax money for lawyers, ad hoc committees, payments for services and travel that dealt with those efforts. Needless to say there are no references.

  

Special appropriations making up 8 percent or $5,138,705 of the proposed budget seems to be the only category other than education not covered in the report that could be paying for these shenanigans. I would suggest that a detailed report on how this money is being or is going to be spent should be covered and where and to whom it is allocated.

  

  

Stanly News & Press
February 5, 2009
 

  
Letter to the Editor: Who does Dunevant work for? 

By Thomas M. Shepard, Albemarle

  
I want to know: Do you speak as an individual or do you speak for the board of commissioners?

  
You were elected to serve the people of Stanly County. We do not want “socialism.”  …

  
A socialist state does not promote competition. I wish the state would take your real estate and pay you 10 percent of the market value.

  

  

Stanly News & Press
January 29, 2009
 

  
Letter to the Editor: Free market or fair market?
By Thomas M. McCluskey, New London

  
Suffice it to say, I believe that ALCOA deserves a fair shake. But, if a fair shake is termed “... purchase the project (License to Steal – my term) and count on ALCOA’s annual revenues of between $60-$100 million to fund the “stealing...”, then I’m not too sure I can ascribe to Mr. Dunevant’s logic.

  
I always was a firm believer in the Capitalist, Free Market system. All of the whining and plethora of arcane rationale and excuses for “License to Steal” should never set well with me or the citizens of Stanly.

  

  

The Charlotte Observer
January 25, 2009
 

  
Reclaiming Yadkin section won't be easy 

  
As time to act slips away, business and civic leaders east of Charlotte are pressing a federal agency to take a historic step: Reclaim 38 miles of the Yadkin River now controlled by aluminum giant Alcoa.

  
Alcoa's power no longer provides local jobs at its now-closed smelter and sells on the open market, netting the company about $8 million a year. Water-rights advocates insist the hydropower, under company control since 1915, should benefit the people of North Carolina. …
  

But the legal and financial odds seem to weigh heavily against taking away Alcoa's license:

  
Although a 1920 federal law allows it, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has never reclaimed a hydro license. Agency staff doesn't consider it a “reasonable alternative” in Alcoa's case.

  
The two-year window in which the federal agency could take steps to reclaim the license passed, without action, last May.

  
While supporters say the license could be retaken by paying Alcoa as little as $24 million, the company says infrastructure improvements it has committed to could add $240 million to the costs.

  
The water-rights committee envisions the state repaying the federal government's costs of compensating Alcoa. But the state faces a $2 billion to $3 billion budget shortfall this year.

  
“When you look at those three pieces, we just don't see that it's likely at all,” said Gene Ellis, an Alcoa official in Stanly County.

  

  

Stanly News & Press
January 20, 2009
 

  
Letter to the Editor: Whining should cease 

  
Having observed the comments of the anti-ALCOA participants and in the Sunday SNAP article made me think of a bunch of jackals circling a wounded antelope salivating for the kill.

  
The purpose of the hearing was “...to address the water quality discharged from dams to give DWQ more input prior to its decision on the...license.”

  
All that was observed was the same old tired rhetoric by the group from Water Rights Committee and a few new spokesmen for them like Mr. Naujoks and other “dam haters.” I did not see where any new established or documented evidence or empirical material was presented. It was to me the same old saw — “It’s our water.”

  
To the contrary, I did see ALCOA offer the statistical analysis of the work they have done to improve oxygenation of the dam waters and the mention that they are spending upwards of $140 million to keep God’s waters flowing in a safe and pure manner for all of us in the Yadkin basin. A bunch of whinny complaints about not being able to put their boats in the lake during a drought season and “we suspect there might be” are not conducive to rationale why ALCOA should not be able to generate electricity from the dams they built, maintain, improve, and where they employ people.

  
First, let me say, it is not any locality’s or “Committee’s” water. The mighty Yadkin is the handiwork of God’s nature and if anyone owns it, it is He. It is up to anyone using it to use it without despoiling it, providing access to all to enjoy it, make industrial use of it (generate electricity in ALCOA’s case), and then pass it downstream so others can use it.

  
ALCOA, contrary to the shrill bleating of a few, has made every effort to ensure the waters are cared for and used properly under all environmental laws as they have been evolving over the years.
  

Secondly, I think from all I have heard and read, some local folks and politicians are trying to practice a “license to steal.” In none of the verbiage: The Water Rights Committee Trust press releases, letters to the SNAP and Charlotte Observer, picketing in Raleigh, or state meetings, FERC meetings or to my knowledge anywhere has this group of disgruntled folks offered any plan, or method of recompense to ALCOA if they manage to steal the property of ALCOA for their own gains, whatever they may be.

  
Thirdly, I still have not heard how these fine folks plan to match and pay for the improvements ALCOA has offered to make at their own expense and has been making; Nor have I seen how they are going to pay for the lands to be given by ALCOA to our Morrow Mountain park and other public access areas.

  
Fourthly, in case it is not known by the “Committee” and the commissioners, the county and us here in Stanly are in the middle of a recession bordering on depression.

  
It seems that tax monies are going to be froth with deficits in the next few years and it seems absolutely nonsensical to be trying to drive an established industry out of the Yadkin region.

  

It would seem to me that these nay-sayers would be applauding ALCOA at this time and would be offering a positive plan to help electricity to be produced in the Yadkin River basin by ALCOA — not trying to steal it.

  
Unless these citizen serving individuals have something to offer, the whining should cease and we should get on with relicensing of ALCOA before we lose this industry and we have to revert back to candles and coal furnaces.

  

Or maybe we want the horse and buggy days back.

  

  

Stanly News & Press
January 13, 2009
 

  
Letter to the Editor: A piece of work
By Bill Garland, Albemarle

  
The Jan. 7 article about Alcoa contamination is an amazing piece of work. I’ll admit that I do not have detailed knowledge of all the many groups, organizations and such who do public service work just because they are inspired to do good things but I certainly have my doubts about the Yadkin Riverkeeper, Inc. …

  
(G)roups such as this seem to thrive on fear and controversy in the name of public defenders. Rumors and hearsay seem to be the foundation of our county commissioners’ vendetta against Alcoa’s Power Division and the Yadkin Riverkeeper seems to be a self appointed barking dog for the Commissioners.

  
All the legal and proper steps of relicensing are being completed and a final decision will result. Whatever the outcome, Stanly County has been given added value through many decades not only from jobs and economic support, but also with the existence of lakes which have provided a non-interrupted water supply, recreation, natural beauty and high end residential developments which will continue for years.

  

  

Salisbury Post

September 3, 2008 


Alcoa gets support for relicensing 
By Jessie Burchette

The president of the High Rock Lake Homeowners Association is calling on Rowan County commissioners to stick with their support of the Alcoa relicensing agreement.

"We remain committed to the relicensing agreement," Larry Jones told commissioners Tuesday. "Rowan County signed it. It's good for the lake.  We (will) get better water levels." …

Jones said the new license will greatly benefit Rowan County with increased building along the lake. "People want to know when they can build," Jones said. He noted the new agreement will allow for more piers and that Alcoa has agreed to a public recreation area off Leonard Road.



Stanly News & Press
August 5, 2008
 

SNAP Readers Favor Alcoa Relicensing
By Erica Benjamin

“By a 2-1 margin, readers of The Stanly News and Press favor relicensing of Alcoa for the next 50 years to water rights on the Yadkin River. …

A hot topic with callers in support of Alcoa is the belief that the county is wasting time and resources fighting the issue and on the study — money that could be better spent in the school system and elsewhere.”


Winston-Salem Journal
July 17, 2008
 

 

State drops Alcoa move: Study planned of water rights, power plants

By James Romoser

 

“State legislators have backed away from a proposed state takeover of hydroelectric plants on the Yadkin River that are owned by Alcoa Inc.  But the state will continue to examine water rights on the river, a touchy subject as Alcoa works to renew its license to operate its four hydroelectric dams.”

 


Independent Tribune
July 16, 2008
 

 

House panel passes Yadkin study proposal: Opposing factions agree to terms for further discussion of hydroelectric licensing issues
By Josh McCann

 

“Ellis, Alcoa’s licensing and property manager for the project, said the company was pleased to remove the explicit study of federal takeover and happy to further discuss the assurance of an adequate, clean water supply for the region and the allocation of water for non-power uses.”

 


WSPC 1010AM
July 16, 2008
 

 

Discussion with Stanly County Commissioner Lindsey Dunevant:
By Leon Warren

 

“If you’re going to spend taxpayer money against Alcoa, or whoever, that needs to be done in an open meeting of the County Commissioners and not by some secret committee.”

 


Stanly News & Press
July 17, 2008
 

 

Letter to the Editor: A few suggestions for Alcoa
By Thomas Shepard, Albemarle

 

“If I were Alcoa, I would dismantle or tear down the dams. Drain the lakes… Then the government can raise taxes and build a new dam.  Then the people would own the dam and the lakes.  Then they could enjoy government control.”

 


Stanly News & Press
July 6, 2008
 

 

Letter to the Editor: Don’t make the same mistake as the British
By Eugene Pickler, New London

 

“It may be correct that the water in the rivers belongs to the public, but the dams on the river and the land under the lakes are private property. They were built with private money. They were built with the expectation of making a profit just as any investor would expect when a business is started or expanded. …

 

If the government can take over the private property of Alcoa because it is producing too much profit, what is to keep the government from taking over the local bank or the local farm or the local building supply company or any other business that is “making too much profit?”

 

The British broke into the sanctity of private property in the late 1940s and forced many large companies to sell their property to the government. By the 1980s the British realized that government ownership of business resulted in less production and less income in the country. The companies were sold back to the public.”

 

 

The High Point Enterprise
April 16, 2008
 
 
Our View: Alcoa permit gets input by governor
 
What these Stanly County folks basically are proposing is public seizure of private property ... or either the taxpayers of North Carolina paying a lot of money to buy Alcoa`s property…  We`ve got to be talking hundreds of millions of dollars, at least, that the state would have to find to buy Alcoa’s property - or have some kind of communistic takeover. Neither one of those options makes any sense.
Read More.
 
 
The Stanly News & Press
April 15, 2008
 
 
Letter to the Editor: County’s efforts send wrong message to potential businesses.
 
I’m concerned that the Stanly County commissioners are being short-sighted and misguided with their last-ditch attempts to deny Alcoa a new license for its dams on the Yadkin River.
 
To suggest that a government-run operation will be more beneficial to Stanly County than a private enterprise demonstrates that county officials don’t understand the negative impact such a move would have on businesses in our community.   Read more.
 
The Salisbury Post
April 8, 2008
 
 
Editorial: Don't create a dam mess
 
On the face of it, there's a superficial plausibility to Stanly County's argument that the Yadkin River is a state resource, ultimately owned by the people of North Carolina, and hence the state, rather than Alcoa, should be the proprietor of the string of power-generating dams along the river now that they no longer power local smelting operations.
 
Until, that is, you think of the larger, longterm implications. Look at the condition of many of our roads and bridges and then ask yourself: Do you really want the state of North Carolina taking over maintenance and oversight of Alcoa's four dams on the Yadkin — or, by extension, Duke Energy's empoundments on the Catawba? With its mental health quagmire, transportation deficits and parole system debacles, the state doesn't need any new streams of turmoil and strife.  Read more.
 
 
The Stanly News & Press
April 10, 2008
 
 
Letter to the Editor: Let Alcoa use the water
 
“…the biggest detriment to the Yadkin River is communities piping water out of the river and selling it to other cities in the Catawba river basin…”  Read more. 
 
 
TalkingAboutPolitics.com Blog
April 8, 2008
 
 
The Art of the Grab
 
“… a local banker and a Stanly County Commissioner have come up with a political grab that makes government funding of the Randy Parton Theatre look like a small-time sideshow.”  Read more.