Commentary

Editorial to Duke Energy: Start digging

In case you missed it, the Winston-Salem Journal published an editorial late last week (repeated yesterday in the Greensboro News & Record) lauding the Cooper administration’s Department of Environmental Quality for its decision to make Duke Energy clean up its remaining coal ash pits.

As the editorial reports:

This is “one of the most important steps in the state’s history to protect North Carolina and its citizens from toxic pollution,” said Frank Holleman, a senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center based in Chapel Hill.

“It was obvious that in order to protect clean water and neighboring communities, Duke Energy needed to excavate all the coal ash from all the sites in this state.”

What’s more, the editorial rightfully demands that Duke not be allowed to pass on the costs to ratepayers. Here’s the conclusion:

On Tuesday, state Rep. Pricey Harrison from Greensboro filed several environmentally themed bills in the state legislature, including one that would require Duke Energy to pay all the costs for cleanup.

“I think most ratepayers feel that way,” Harrison told BH Media on Tuesday.

Harrison has filed similar bills for years that have attracted little interest from the legislature. Maybe now someone will pay attention.

Duke Energy has been aware of the problems with coal ash containment since at least 2014, if not earlier. The company has been responsive at times, but it also has fought to deflect its cleanup responsibility. It could still challenge the DEQ’s ruling. But at this point it seems the company would only be delaying the inevitable.

Duke Energy says that removing the ash from storage basins at all of its current and former coal-fired plants “will take decades, stretching well beyond the current state and federal deadlines.”

Better start digging.

Exactly.

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