Duke Energy backs passage of latest coal ash bill in North Carolina

Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) on May 31 issued a statement applauding the passage of Senate Bill 71, which deals with coal ash disposal, by the North Carolina General Assembly. 

Duke Energy said the bill further strengthens North Carolina’s Coal Ash Management Act and ensures the state has the flexibility to make the best decisions to safely close ash basins. The bill also reconstitutes the Coal Ash Management Commission to provide oversight and consider how any closure plan will impact customer power bills in the future.

The legislation had strong bipartisan support from lawmakers, as well as environmental and business communities who recognize the opportunity North Carolina has to continue to lead on this issue, Duke added.

In addition, Senate Bill 71 encourages safe recycling of coal ash and gives ash basin neighbors certainty about their future drinking water quality. Although the science and engineering studies continue to demonstrate that basins are not impacting neighbors’ wells, extending water lines benefits all customers because it preserves the full range of cost-effective ash basin closure options, said Duke.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory on May 31 issued this brief statement regarding the vote that day by the North Carolina House to re-establish the Coal Ash Commission: “This legislative vote is not good for our environment or for the rule of law in North Carolina.”

McCrory issued a more extensive statement on May 25, reiterating his intent to veto legislation that undermines environmental protections, bypasses the state’s ability to enforce the law, and is unconstitutional. Senate Bill 71, which was written in secret and rushed to a vote by House lawmakers, would undermine the environmental protections contained in the state’s coal ash management law, he said.

“It’s disappointing to see legislation of this magnitude drafted behind closed doors,” said McCrory on May 25. “This bill is a blatant attempt to bypass state regulators and seek more favorable treatment from an unaccountable and unneeded bureaucracy that further delays the cleanup process.”

McCrory said that Senate Bill 71 is unconstitutional and ignores the decisive 6-1 North Carolina Supreme Court ruling in McCrory v. Berger that said that governors must have enough control over commissions to perform their constitutional duties. The court also found that governors must have the ability to appoint commissioners, to supervise their day-to-day activities, and to remove them from office. Contrary to misrepresentations by legislators and legislative staff, McCrory v. Berger was not just about appointments. If it were, the Supreme Court would not have addressed removal and supervision in the opinion, McCrory said.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.