Perdue moves to block Alcoa license on Yadkin River
Gov. Bev Perdue is trying to stop aluminum company Alcoa from renewing its license to control a portion of the Yadkin River. Alcoa got a license to operate hydroelectric dams on the Yadkin River in Central North Carolina 50 years ago - back when it operated a massive aluminum smelter there. State officials supported that first license because of all the jobs Alcoa was providing. But Governor Perdue has filed a motion to block Alcoa from renewing that license for the same reasons local officials up and down the river also want it blocked. Here's Cabarrus County Commissioner Coy Privette: "Fifty years ago, that was the thriving industry, perhaps the number one employer in the county," says Privette. "But today it does not employ anybody in Stanly County. And therefore we just felt like the water belongs to the people rather than a non-existent company." Alcoa argues that even though its aluminum smelter is long gone, it still has business interests in the Yadkin River that hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes. Alcoa sells the power generated by its dams on the river for a profit and says the state is making a play to seize the company's private business. But Cabarrus County Commissioner Bob Carruth says there's more to the conflict than who should or should not be making money off the river's flow: "If they get that license approved where they can release a certain amount of gallons of water per day, let's make sure before its granted that we're still gonna be able to still come to the table if we need to get water out of the Yadkin River and be able to pull that water," says Carruth. Alcoa says its hydropower efforts will not hinder the river's role as a water source. Environmental groups and many residents along the Yadkin are also opposed to Alcoa's license because they say the company has not cleaned up pollution from the original smelter. Gov. Perdue is asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for an emergency hearing to argue that control of the Yadkin be returned to the state of North Carolina.