Many years ago in central North Carolina, a French company bought up a bunch of land along the Yadkin River to build a dam to power either a mine or an aluminum smelter (accounts vary) . World War I intervened, and the project was purchased by Alcoa, who completed the original work and eventually expanded the project. When complete, a total of 4 dams were built complete with hydroelectric generating plants, all to power an aluminum smelter known as the Badin Works. For many years, this plant supplied around 1000 well-paid jobs to area residents. The dams and lakes are collectively known as the Yadkin Lakes. They are home to many who have the money to buy the houses that line much of their shores, and are enjoyed by them and many others who boat and fish in them. Alcoa still owns the dams and the lakes, and provides various boat ramps, parking lots and other infrastructure that allow many of the residents of the are to enjoy them.
At one point, various sorts of pollution were discovered in the water and attributed to the operation of the aluminum smelter. Alcoa cleaned up much of it, but many say that there is more to be done. Considering that much of the pollutants are buried deep in sediment, and that stirring this up will effect the water quality of many communities who draw their drinking water from the Yadkin, I have to wonder if maybe we shouldn’t leave those sleeping dogs to lie. (But who am I to argue with the Ruling Class?)
Eventually, market forces caused Alcoa to close much of the Badin works. Many were understandably upset. Others, however, saw the opportunity for yet another power grab by the ruling class, and they have patiently bided their time until recently.
Unable to persuade the Federal government under the Bush Administration to withhold operating licenses and take over the Yadkin Lakes, a cross section of local Democrats and Republicans. along with assorted do-gooders (mostly imported), have decided that they want the water, the dams and, most importantly, the 215 megawatts of electrical generating capacity. (I’ve blogged about this previously.)
These people ignore three facts. First, the water rights belong to the Federal government. (How that should be allowed is a mystery to me, but let’s just take it at face value.) Second, they also ignore that Alcoa actually owns the land under the lakes, as well as a good bit of what surrounds them. Third, they ignore that the dams and the hydro plants belong to Alcoa.
They believe the state should “pass a law” and Hugo Chavez-like, expropriate the Yadkin Lakes and associated properties. I do not agree with this; neither does Alcoa. I am ready to simply hang these people from the multitude of large trees that grace the shores of these lakes; Alcoa merely wants to be paid for their property if it is taken.
Oh, and they would like the taxpayers of the state of North Carolina to foot the bill for all this, which, including potential legal costs, could approach $1 billion in my estimation. (Alcoa claims their property alone is worth $500 million.)
Once again, out Rulers do not have out interests at heart. Remember this in November. Cathy Dunn and Stan Bingham, I’ve voted for both of you. You can “dam sure” bet that won’t happen again.