News | May 31, 2016

Breaking: N.C. General Assembly approves Duke Energy coal ash bailout bill

The following is a statement by Senior Attorney Frank Holleman regarding the Duke Energy coal ash bailout bill, S 71, approved by the North Carolina General Assembly today.

This bill is a political bailout of Duke Energy. At Duke’s bidding, the legislature is changing the law and ignoring the people of North Carolina so politicians can find a way to let Duke Energy off the hook for getting its toxic coal ash out of its leaking, unlined pits sitting in our groundwater and polluting our rivers, lakes and drinking water sources.

This bill re-opens the door for Duke Energy to leave its leaking coal ash in our groundwater, continuing to pollute our rivers, lakes, and drinking water supplies, further jeopardizing the health and homes of families and communities across North Carolina. The bill does nothing to clean up or stop Duke Energy’s coal ash pollution.

Under the existing law, after extensive public participation and comments, DEQ was forced to conclude that Duke Energy must remove its coal ash from its dangerous and leaking pits across the state. Now, after heavy lobbying by Duke Energy, the Raleigh politicians are giving Duke Energy a do-over because it didn’t like the results.

This is a bill designed to bail out Duke Energy, but the legislature is including drinking water provisions as a cover in an election year. If the legislature truly wants to help out the local communities, it could pass a bill that only requires Duke Energy to provide these families a supply of safe, clean, drinking water. Instead, the legislature is passing a wolf in sheep’s clothing, to help out Duke Energy.

Every community and every family living around one of Duke Energy’s leaking coal ash pits deserves a safe and reliable source of clean drinking water at Duke Energy’s expense. However, providing drinking water to nearby communities doesn’t give Duke Energy amnesty for its illegal and dangerous coal ash pollution. Duke Energy is still polluting groundwater, drinking water supplies, rivers, and lakes. The law, common sense, and common decency require Duke Energy to take responsibility for its irresponsible coal ash practices and move its coal ash to safe, dry lined storage. Excavation is what Duke Energy and all other utilities in South Carolina are doing today and levels of arsenic pollution are dropping as a result.

By seeking to leave leaking, unlined coal ash pits in the middle of these communities, Duke Energy will continue to hurt the property values and quality of life of these neighborhoods and the families that live in them.”

SELC represents the following citizens groups in court to clean up Duke Energy’s coal ash pollution from all 14 leaking Duke Energy sites across North Carolina: Appalachian Voices, Cape Fear Riverwatch, Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation, Dan River Basin Association, MountainTrue, Neuse Riverkeeper Foundation, Roanoke River Basin Association, Sierra Club, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Waterkeeper Alliance, Winyah Rivers Foundation, and Yadkin Riverkeeper.