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Riverkeepers sound off over weakened coal ash bill

The Riverkeepers for the Cape Fear and the French Broad are among the latest environmentalists to speak out against the coal ash management bill that won final approval in the NC House on Thursday.

The Cape Fear’s Kemp Burdette and the French Broad’s Hartwell Carson say the revised version of the Senate’s coal ash bill gives enormous leeway to Duke Energy and fails to protect North Carolina communities and waterways.

Here’s more from their press release issued by the NC Conservation Network:

Cape Fear Riverkeeper Kemp Burdette (left), and French Broad Riverkeeper Hartwell Carson (right)

Cape Fear Riverkeeper Kemp Burdette (left), and French Broad Riverkeeper Hartwell Carson (right)

The bill would protect Duke Energy from its obligation to eliminate the source of groundwater contamination – leaking, unlined coal ash pits at 14 facilities across North Carolina. A judge’s ruling earlier this year explicitly gave state environmental officials the authority to force Duke to remove sources of groundwater pollution. This bill attempts to undermine that ruling.

Also troubling, the bill gives DENR and the Coal Ash Management Commission complete discretion over the 10 remaining facilities not prioritized for cleanup by Duke Energy and Gov. Pat McCrory. Without specific guidelines from lawmakers, those bodies could allow Duke to cap all of its remaining ponds in place, which would do nothing to stop groundwater pollution or isolate coal ash from our waterways.

“DENR has documented groundwater contamination at all 14 coal ash facilities in North Carolina for years, yet they’ve done nothing to address the problem,” said French Broad Riverkeeper Hartwell Carson. “Now, our legislators want to give them total control over prioritizing sites and setting timelines for cleanup. That’s unacceptable and irresponsible.”

The House took a weak Senate bill and made it even weaker. They also used procedural tricks to avoid debating and voting on several amendments that would have added additional sites to the priority clean-up list.

“By refusing to even vote on several amendments that would have required a full, prioritized cleanup at sites other than those cherry-picked by Duke Energy and Gov. Pat McCrory, the House undermined individual legislators’ legitimate concerns for their constituents and communities,” said Cape Fear Riverkeeper Kemp Burdette. “In short, they chose politics over people.”

 

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