Coal Ash Wednesday: Duke Energy plays pre-emptive card, again

Trying to choose its legal opponents:

Duke says the Yadkin Riverkeeper Foundation and the Waterkeeper Alliance are barred from bringing the private suit, filed in September. It argues that the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources has filed suit over coal-ash issues at Buck, located in Rowan County, and taken other enforcement actions. It cites federal law that bars private suits involving the federal Clean Water Act when state agencies have acted.

John Suttles, a lawyer with the Southern Environmental Law Center, says Duke has made similar arguments unsuccessfully in other environmental cases. He says the suit is properly filed and that it addresses violations of the Clean Water Act not addressed by the state suit.

Hopefully the judge will let the suit proceed, because it's important to get the Riverkeepers' testimony on record. DENR is not likely to go into any details on potential environmental damage resulting from the leaks, as they have an unfortunate habit of waiting until there's a crisis before acting.



Duke lucks out.

Too many times Duke has gotten off the hook by that very process--get a court to dismiss a suit from an environmental organization because a governmental agency has 'taken action.' The suit is dismissed, and the agency's actions cease.
Keep an eye on this one.

Yep, and it should send a message

to the voters (if they were paying attention, that is) that Duke Energy would much prefer to be sued by DENR than an advocacy organization. Which is exactly the opposite of what logic tells us. Being sued by a government agency should be the worst possible scenario, because it's hard as hell to challenge their findings.

The only conclusion that can be drawn from this is: Duke Energy is not concerned about what DENR might bring up in court, because the utility itself is exerting some control over that process.