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Advocates blast McCrory/Duke coal ash plan

Coal ash clean upThe N.C. League of Conservation Voters has a powerful critique of the Governor’s coal ash “plan” in this morning’s Weekly Conservation Bulletin (see below). As an aside, how can DENR Secretary Skvarla and the Guv be “adamant that one size probably will not fit all”?

Another Stall on Coal Ash

Gov. Pat McCrory last week proposed legislation which would let the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) direct Duke Energy to ‘close’ its coal ash ponds – an authority which DENR already inherently has through its clean water permitting process – but leave Duke proposing how such ‘closures’ would take place.

Strip away the double-talk and it’s clear that the governor is doing little more than asking for the General Assembly’s blessing on his plan to let Duke continue to call the shots on coal ash.

‘All this is doing is attempting to put into law what Duke wants to do anyway, which is leave in place its ash at different sites where it continues to be a risk and continues to threaten communities,’ said Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) attorney Frank Holleman. More here.

The proposed legislation adds inspectors and compliance employees at DENR – a reversal of the trend under McCrory thus far – but also contains provisions that would effectively nullify the existing court order requiring Duke to immediately act to halt and clean up groundwater pollution from the ponds. More here.

WaterKeeper Alliance attorney Peter Harrison said of the proposal, ‘This approach is unacceptable because it would allow these toxic dumps to continue leaking and poisoning our rivers and groundwater supplies with toxic heavy metals for many years to come.’ (Associated Press, 4/17/14.)

In comments to reporters, DENR Secretary John Skvarla defended the approach of letting Duke leave coal ash ponds in place near at-risk waters: ‘The governor and I are adamant that one size probably will not fit all 33 ash ponds. The engineering and science is going to be a little more complicated than digging them all up and moving them to landfills.’

Environmentalists call foul over this latest rehash of the McCrory Administration’s plan to let Duke tell DENR what to do about coal ash. Governor McCrory needs to come to the realization that he is now the chief executive official of the State of North Carolina, and no longer a career employee of Duke Energy.”

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