Duke Energy entered a guilty plea yesterday to misdemeanor violations of the Clean Water Act in connection with coal ash contamination at several of its plants here, but the federal investigation may not be over, according to this report in the Charlotte Business Journal.
U.S. Attorneys involved in the investigation would not confirm whether the investigation is ongoing, but they did admit that no further charges would be lodged against Duke Energy.
As reported in the Journal:
John Cruden, assistant attorney general for the Environmental Crimes Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, confirmed after court Thursday that Duke faces no further criminal charges. But he would not say the investigation is closed. Asked if he knew whether there could be any additional investigation, he said, “Yes, I do know, but I cannot tell you.”
Duke Energy’s attorney Jim Cooney pointed to the state Department of Environment and Natural Resource as a likely target.
“The government is still investigating the DENR side of the house,” Cooney told the Journal. “We have agreed to provide documents and to cooperate with that investigation.”
And DENR did not deny that the investigation is continuing.
“We continue to fully cooperate with the U.S. Attorney’s office and our focus remains protecting the environment and holding Duke Energy accountable for its environmental violations,” the agency said in a statement yesterday.
Lax enforcement of environmental rules and regulations against Duke Energy in recent years is one of the areas the Justice Department intended to explore when it issued grand jury subpoenas last year.