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The coal ash mess: Here to stay for the foreseeable future?

Coal ash clean upWasn’t it just several weeks ago that Gov. Pat McCrory was stating plainly that North Carolina needed to move its coal ash waste sites away from water as is being done in South Carolina? Now after much hemming and hawing and backtracking, it’s clear that no such things is going to happen — at least not with any help from the Guv. Yesterday, McCrory made his position reversal/wimp out official with an announcement that moving all the ash is now no longer part of his plan. Citizens will no doubt feel much safer however with his proposal to change the law so that, as WRAL reports:  “power companies would have to give the public faster notice of coal ash spills.”

In fairness, not everything the Guv had to say was terrible. As noted in a statement by Molly Diggins at the Sierra Club:

“We appreciate that the Governor has come forward with the outline of a plan to address the problem of leaking coal ash pits that are contaminating our state’s waters.

We are concerned, however, that the broad outline of the plan announced today appears to be prospective, and does not seem to address the immediate need to remove the source of contamination from pits next to waterways. Although the Governor’s statement indicated his administration’s plans to close existing coal ash pits, it does not appear to require all pits to be closed, nor does it appear to require cleanup or removal of coal ash from unlined pits threatening water sources.  Neither mechanisms nor timetable for closure are included.

We are pleased that the Governor will seek to close loopholes that currently exempt utilities from certain landfill regulations and to require protections for structural fill.

We look forward to seeing the details of the Governor’s plan and to working with all parties to find a comprehensive solution that will protect our state’s water supplies.”

Let’s hope like heck that the positive items noted in the statement really come to fruition and that the administration works with environmental advocates in sincere good faith. Many of us will not be holding our breath, however, in anticipation of such developments.

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