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Friday, July 1, 2016

Duke Energy Sweetheart Deal on Coal Ash Cleanup Heads to McCrory

Posted by on Fri, Jul 1, 2016 at 4:17 PM

click to enlarge Activists demonstrate against Duke Energy's stranglehold on North Carolina politics with "Dukeopoly" game. - GREENPEACE NORTH CAROLINA
  • Greenpeace North Carolina
  • Activists demonstrate against Duke Energy's stranglehold on North Carolina politics with "Dukeopoly" game.
Governor McCrory already vetoed one coal ash bill earlier this session. Now, after Duke Energy's CEO intervened, another one is sitting on his desk that he's likely to approve.

The new bill passed the House 82-32 after thirty minutes of debate Thursday. It lets Duke Energy off the hook for excavating coal ash at seven North Carolina storage sites, though in May, state regulators ordered the utility to clean up coal ash at eight "high-risk" sites and twenty-five "intermediate-risk" sites.

Under the bill Duke Energy will be allowed to re-classify sites to "low-risk" and instead of excavating coal ash, the utility will be allowed to dry it out and cap it in place, provided it gives residents who live near coal ash sites a piped-in drinking water source by October of 2018. The bill puts the kibosh on the Coal Ash Management Commission, which oversaw regulators at DEQ, likely for good and it removes all local control over coal ash storage, disposal and transportation. 

“Duke is not only polluting the air and water in our communities but also our democracy, said Caroline Hansley, an organizer with Greenpeace North Carolina, in a statement. "Furthermore, North Carolinians are forced to pay both for energy that is making them sick and elected leaders that have their ears bent to the interests of the monopoly utility."

This is true. Duke Energy has poured more than $200 thousand into state legislative races in the first quarter of this year alone. Meanwhile, fourteen coal ash dumps have been documented to be leaking across North Carolina and environmentalists say that following the Dan River spill in 2014, ninety percent of leaked coal ash remains in the water. 

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