Following extensive collaboration with the McCrory administration, the North Carolina Senate passed a compromise plan Tuesday to manage the cleanup of the state’s coal ash ponds while ensuring residents in surrounding areas have permanent access to clean water.
The new plan:
- Requires Duke Energy to provide a permanent source of safe drinking water by fall 2018 to every residence within a half mile radius of a coal ash pond and any other areas predicted to be affected;
- Requires Duke Energy to ensure that repairs of dams at all coal ash ponds are promptly completed;
- Requires Duke Energy to build recycling centers at three coal ash sites which will allow coal ash to be recycled into products for industry for the first time in North Carolina;
- Requires Duke Energy to excavate three additional sites (Lee, Cape Fear and Weatherspoon) that have been the subject of lawsuits between the utility and environmental activists – bringing the total to seven of 14 sites that will be excavated;
- Gives final authority to determine how the remaining seven coal ash sites are closed to the Secretary of the Department of Environmental Quality instead of the Coal Ash Management Commission, which this compromise bill disbands; and
- Adopts a mutually agreed-to approach with the McCrory administration regarding the location, staffing, supervision, allocation of seats, appointing authority, confirmation and term lengths for the other two citizen commissions impacted by the lawsuit on the Coal Ash Management Commission.
“Two years ago, legislative Republicans passed the strictest regulations on coal ash in the United States and became the first state to force the closure of all coal ash ponds, and I am pleased that we’ve now reached a compromise to safely manage cleanup while ensuring North Carolinians have access to clean drinking water,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Tom Apodaca (R-Henderson).