Dirty Water, Dirty Money: Coal Ash and the Attack on North Carolina’s Courts

This new minidocumentary from Legal Progress showcases the real human impact of special interest money that is infiltrating judicial elections by featuring one North Carolina family’s story of how coal ash pollution poisoned their community. Since state and federal governments have failed to regulate coal ash as a hazardous waste, the judiciary is citizens’ only recourse to address the catastrophic environmental and health damage caused by the pollution. As detailed in a recent CAP report, however, there is a troubling correlation between North Carolina Supreme Court rulings and the success rates of firms that gave big donations to judicial candidates following the repeal of the state’s public financing system. This raises concerns about corporate influence in judicial races—including corporate polluters such as Duke Energy, which currently has billions of dollars at stake in North Carolina courts over its responsibility to keep toxic coal ash out of the state’s drinking water.

Lauren Malkani is a Video Producer and Editor at the Center for American Progress. Billy Corriher is the Director of Research for Legal Progress at the Center. Sean Wright is a Policy Analyst at Legal Progress.