Filing legislation that actually might help matters:
Local Rep. Pricey Harrison and fellow Democrats filed a bill today that proposes a slate of coal ash regulation changes, including prohibiting ash from being put into North Carolina storage ponds after August of this year.
The bill, filed this afternoon, also goes a step beyond the legislation proposed by Senate Republicans and Gov. Pat McCrory and sets a deadline for when coal ash ponds must to be closed. Harrison, D-Guilford, said House Bill 1226 includes much of what Democrats promised earlier this year.
The Republicans' first reaction would probably be to bury this bill in committee, but they would do well to pay attention and (if nothing else) include some of its provisions in whatever bill moves forward. People are not happy about this situation at all. I heard more than one Republican this last weekend complaining about what happened to the Dan River, and lobbing softballs at Duke Energy would not be wise. Here are a few snippets from the bill:
The Commission shall not allow an electric public utility to recover from the retail electric customers of the State any of the following costs:
(1) Costs incurred on or after January 1, 2014, that are related to the management of coal combustion residuals disposed of in coal combustion residuals surface impoundments, including costs associated with complying with the provisions of Part 2I of Article 9 of Chapter 130A of the General Statutes.
(2) Costs incurred on or after January 1, 2014, that are related to an unlawful discharge to the surface waters of the State from a coal combustion residuals surface impoundment, unless the Commission determines the discharge was due to an event of force majeure."
(a) On or after July 1, 2014, the construction of new and expansion of existing coal combustion residuals surface impoundments is prohibited.
(b) On or after August 1, 2014, the disposal of coal combustion residuals into a coal combustion residuals surface impoundment is prohibited.
(c) Coal combustion residuals generated on or after August 1, 2014, shall be either (i) disposed of into a sanitary landfill properly permitted pursuant to this Article and rules adopted thereunder or (ii) put to beneficial use in compliance with the requirements of 15A NCAC 13B .1700 and other rules as applicable.
(a) Method of Closure. – All coal combustion residuals surface impoundments shall be dewatered and the owner of the impoundment shall remove all coal combustion residuals from the impoundment, return the former impoundment to a nonerosive and stable condition, and dispose the coal combustion residuals in a municipal solid waste landfill located on the same property as the impoundment. Municipal solid waste landfills that receive coal combustion residuals pursuant to this subsection shall, in lieu of the liner requirement established by 15A NCAC 13B .0503, include a bottom liner system consisting of three components in accordance with this subsection. Of the required three components of the liner system, the upper two components shall consist of two separate flexible membrane liners, with a leak detection system between the two liners. The third component shall consist of a minimum of two feet of soil underneath the bottom of those liners, with the soil having a maximum permeability of 1 x 10‑7 centimeters per second. The flexible membrane liners shall have a minimum thickness of thirty one‑thousandths of an inch (0.030"), except that liners consisting of high‑density polyethylene shall be at least sixty one‑thousandths of an inch (0.060") thick. The lower flexible membrane liner shall be installed in direct and uniform contact with the compacted soil layer. The Department may approve an alternative to the soil component of the composite liner system if the Department finds, based on modeling, that the alternative liner system will provide an equivalent or greater degree of impermeability.
(b) Schedule of Closure. – Impoundments classified pursuant to G.S. 130A‑309.204 shall be closed according to the following schedule:
(1) High‑risk impoundments shall be closed as soon as practicable but no later than August 1, 2019.
(2) Intermediate‑risk impoundments shall be closed as soon as practicable but no later than August 1, 2024.
(3) Low‑risk impoundments shall be closed as soon as practicable but no later than August 1, 2029.
Not real happy with the closure dates. Considering most of these impoundments are already leaching some pollutants right now, there is bound to be substantial contamination prior to 2024. But it does give Duke Energy the flexibility to focus on the worst ones first.