DAN RIVER: AG Cooper says coal ash must be cleaned up - WRBL

AG Cooper says coal ash must be cleaned up

Posted: Updated:
Tanks used to cleanup coal ash from the Dan River Tanks used to cleanup coal ash from the Dan River
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -

North Carolina's attorney general said Wednesday that Duke Energy's coal ash pits must be cleaned up to protect the state's waterways, but the costs shouldn't be passed along to consumers through higher utility rates.

The state Senate is considering legislation that would require Duke by 2029 to remove its 100 million tons of coal ash now stored in 33 unlined pits across the state or seal it in place.

The legislation proposed by Senate leader Phil Berger and Senate Rules Chairman Tom Apodaca comes four months after a massive spill at a Duke plant in Eden coated 70 miles of the Dan River in gray sludge.

They said their legislation would give North Carolina a solid framework for phasing out the creation and disposal of coal ash in the state.

Duke has expressed concern about the proposed legislation. The nation's largest electric company has said it could take decades and cost up to $10 billion if it's forced to remove the ash, with most of the costs passed along to the company's ratepayers.

But in a letter to lawmakers, Attorney General Roy Cooper said the $50 billion company should pay for the cleanup - not ratepayers. And Cooper said he'd fight any legislation that allowed Duke to pass along those costs.

"Consumers shouldn't foot the bill to clean up coal ash. Many families and businesses are already struggling and simply can't afford to pay more for power while utilities continue to earn high profits," Cooper said. "Coal ash must be cleaned up to protect our water and the utility can afford to pay for it more than consumers can."

This isn't the first time Cooper, a Democrat, has said he'd oppose any effort to pass coal ash clean up to consumers. His office has previously challenged rate increases by the Utilities Commission he's labeled as too high.

Cooper says he's planning a gubernatorial run in 2016 but hasn't announced he's in. If he runs, he'd face Gov. Pat McCrory, a pro-business Republican who worked at Duke for more than 28 years.

McCrory has criticized Cooper for saying the attorney general would fight Duke if the Charlotte-based company tried to charge customers for cleanup.

As Cooper released his statement, word came of more problems with Duke's pits.

The state Division of Energy, Mineral and Land Resources said Wednesday it issued Duke a notice of deficiency for leaky pipes at the company's Weatherspoon plant in Lumberton.

The state environmental agency said it's also requiring Duke to provide an engineer's assessment for piping systems in coal ash dams in Wilmington and Asheville. No major leaks were discovered at those plants.

Meanwhile, two North Carolina congressional leaders released a letter Wednesday urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy for tougher standards regarding storage and disposal of coals ash.

The letter by Democrats U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield and David Price was co-signed by 83 members of Congress. They pressed for stricter standards and enforcement under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act by year's end.

"It appears we are only now beginning to see the alarming truth about coal ash in our communities," they wrote. "It is troubling that it has taken large coal ash spills like those in North Carolina and Tennessee to mobilize stakeholders to engage in a frank dialogue about its dangers and propose changes to mitigate those hazards. Those catastrophes could have been avoided and we owe it to all Americans to put the necessary safeguards in place to ensure similar disasters do not occur in the future."

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

  • North Carolina NewsMore>>

  • Teen dies, 7 others injured after truck crash in Supply

    Teen dies, 7 others injured after truck crash in Supply

    Monday, September 15 2014 11:55 PM EDT2014-09-16 03:55:29 GMT
    Emergency crews were dispatched to the single vehicle accident at 1:35 A.M. on Sunday morning, according to Captain David Robinson with the Coastline Volunteer Rescue Squad. Robinson said several people
    Authorities have released the identities of the teenager who was killed and the seven others who were badly hurt in a violent pick-up truck crash in Brunswick County.
  • Report: NC among states most tied to income tax

    Report: NC among states most tied to income tax

    Monday, September 15 2014 10:38 PM EDT2014-09-16 02:38:29 GMT
    The income gap that's been growing for years increasingly is undermining public treasuries in North Carolina and other states, a new report by the investment rating agency Standard Poor's says.
    The income gap that's been growing for years increasingly is undermining public treasuries in North Carolina and other states, a new report by the investment rating agency Standard Poor's says.
  • NCDOT, environmental group talk on Bonner Bridge

    NCDOT, environmental group talk on Bonner Bridge

    Monday, September 15 2014 6:51 PM EDT2014-09-15 22:51:03 GMT
    File photoFile photo
    The two sides facing off in a dispute over a replacement for the Bonner Bridge says talks are underway to break the impasse.
    The two sides facing off in a dispute over a replacement for the Bonner Bridge says talks are underway to break the impasse.
  • Trending StoriesMore>>

  • Letter found with body of App State student, police say

    Letter found with body of App State student, police say

    Monday, September 15 2014 5:16 PM EDT2014-09-15 21:16:12 GMT
    The body of Anna Smith was discovered in a heavily wooded area in Boone.The body of Anna Smith was discovered in a heavily wooded area in Boone.
    The Boone Police Department said a letter was discovered with the body of an Appalachian State University student, indicating her death may have been a suicide.
    The Boone Police Department said a letter was discovered with the body of an Appalachian State University student, indicating her death may have been a suicide.
  • 'Party mansion' owner convicted of tax and healthcare fraud

    'Party mansion' owner convicted of tax and healthcare fraud

    Friday, September 12 2014 12:38 PM EDT2014-09-12 16:38:35 GMT
    File photoFile photo
    A former Raleigh resident, known for the wild parties held at his “party mansion” in North Raleigh, was sentenced to more than 10 years in prison for tax fraud, healthcare fraud and money laundering crimes, according to a United States Department of Justice release.
    A former Raleigh resident, known for the wild parties held at his “party mansion” in North Raleigh, was sentenced to more than 10 years in prison for tax fraud, healthcare fraud and money laundering crimes, according to a United States Department of Justice release.
  • Urban Outfitters faces backlash for controversial sweatshirt

    Urban Outfitters faces backlash for controversial sweatshirt

    Monday, September 15 2014 12:43 PM EDT2014-09-15 16:43:43 GMT
    The website of clothing outlet Urban Outfitters featured a controversial, one-of-a-kind shirt briefly Monday morning before it sold, but not before causing a stir on the Internet.
    The website of clothing outlet Urban Outfitters featured a controversial, one-of-a-kind shirt briefly Monday morning before it sold, but not before causing a stir on the Internet.
Powered by WorldNow

1350 13th Avenue
Columbus, GA 31901

Telephone: 706.323.3333
Fax: 706.327.6655
Email: news@wrbl.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.