Coal Ash Wednesday: watering down our water protections

For the NC GOP, crisis = the opportunity to shield polluters even more:

The provision written into the bill says that, for polluters who violate groundwater standards, the N.C. Environmental Management Commission “shall require the permittee to undertake corrective action, without regard to the date that the system was first permitted,” to restore groundwater quality. Polluters would have to survey their contamination, then propose a plan and schedule to clean up groundwater. DENR would then have to approve this plan. A process like that could take years.

By erasing the distinction between older and newer facilities, the bill would strike the requirement that older facilities immediately clean up their pollution, Gerken said. This would apply to Duke’s ash ponds, and seemingly undermine Ridgeway’s order, he said. It would also apply to other polluters with older facilities, those who otherwise would have been required by law to immediately clean up their pollution.

And for those apologists out there, the "good intentions gone wrong" argument simply won't work. They knew exactly what they were doing with this bill, and the idea likely came from Duke Energy itself:

The House bill, unlike the Senate bill, also allows Duke to request an extension for the closure of its sites. Both bills require high-hazard sites to close by the end of 2019. Intermediate-hazard sites would have to close by the end of 2024 and low-hazard sites would have to close by the end of 2029.

Samuelson argued that this sort of flexibility is important.

“We have set deadlines. We feel like deadlines are important, and they drive the process to make sure things get done,” she said. “On the other hand, nobody has done this before.

“We wanted to put the variance language in there so that there was a way to accommodate the unforeseen in a very new system, but also to guarantee that that has a very public process.”

Here's your translation which, in this case, is desperately needed due to Ruth Samuelson's doubletalk: "We wanted to shift the control of this process back into the hands of Duke Energy, so they could limit their costs and protect their shareholders."


No such thing

as "low-hazard" coal ash sites. The House took a pretty lame Senate bill and added indefinite extensions, politicized the appointments to the coal ash commission and stated outright that Duke can get customers to pay for their mistakes.

"I will have a priority on building relationships with the minority caucus. I want to put substance behind those campaign speeches." -- Thom Tillis, Nov. 5, 2014