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Editorial: Sabotage in Moore County can't be tolerated. Act swiftly, prevent its spread

Posted December 7, 2022 5:00 a.m. EST
Updated December 9, 2022 8:30 a.m. EST

Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022 -- Capitol Broadcasting Copany's editorial cartoonist.

CBC Editorial: Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022; editorial #8811

The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company

It was a heinous act of violent vandalism – “sabotage” is how Gov. Roy Cooper describes it. Others see it as domestic terrorism. The destruction of two Moore County power stations – cutting off power to 45,000 homes, schools, businesses and hospitals while endangering the lives and livelihoods of thousands – was criminal.

Was it an act of discrimination against cross dressers? Was it about trying to fix elections so favored candidates win – regardless of what voters might have said? It needs to stop. Let people, who aren’t hurting others, lead their own lives. Don’t like how an election turned out – there are plenty of avenues to express grievances appropriately – including through the courts.

The perpetrators of this plot "knew exactly what they were doing to cause the damage and cause the outage that they did," said Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields, a Republican just starting his second term in office.

Cooper called the act a "new level of threat" and added “protecting critical infrastructure like our power system must be a top priority. … We will be evaluating ways to work with our utility providers and our state and federal officials to make sure we harden our infrastructure where that’s necessary and work to prevent future damage."

Given the current climate that seems to have opened up these kinds of threatening acts, Cooper has little time to spare. He needs to act with dispatch to assure our energy infrastructure is reliable and is protected from natural threats like hurricanes AND from human acts of purposeful destruction and disruption.

  • Direct the State Utilities Commission to take the lead and bring together power providers – Duke Energy, Dominion Energy, the electric cooperatives and municipal electric utilities – to review the current status of infrastructure and security of critical generating and transmission systems. The goal is to develop a comprehensive program to assure the state has the capacity to meet energy needs AND has taken appropriate, necessary and effective security measures so power production and transmission is protected from interruptions by vandals and saboteurs.
  • Direct state law enforcement agencies to work with public and private utilities to assess protection needs and put a security and safety action plan into place that involves utilities as well as state and local law enforcement.
  • Review current state laws. Are they adequate to protect these facilities? Propose necessary changes to tighten security and increase punishment for those responsible for these acts of vandalism – including developing a reward fund for those who identify and lead to convictions of those who perpetrate purposeful damage to public and energy infrastructure in North Carolina.

It should not go unnoted that many volunteers, businesses and emergency responders have stepped up in Moore County to help and to the extent possible, ease the difficult situation many face. Their generosity is much appreciated. It is unfortunate that such an effort even became a necessity.

The disruption to life and commerce in Moore County will -- we hope -– be over shortly and the facilities rebuilt.

But the impact of what happened won’t fade as quickly. It remains as an urgent warning that action is necessary now to address the vulnerabilities that became all too apparent.

Gov. Cooper has made a good start initiating action to protect lives and livelihoods. He must be determined and stick to it – not a second can wait.

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Capitol Broadcasting Company's Opinion Section seeks a broad range of comments and letters to the editor. Our Comments beside each opinion column offer the opportunity to engage in a dialogue about this article.

In addition, we invite you to write a letter to the editor about this or any other opinion articles. Here are some tips on submissions >> SUBMIT A LETTER TO THE EDITOR