NC Senate coal ash bill similar to McCrory proposal - WSMV Channel 4

NC Senate coal ash bill similar to McCrory proposal

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RALEIGH, N.C. - Two top Senate Republicans introduced a bill in the North Carolina General Assembly Wednesday to cut back on the threat of coal ash pollution, a bill that is based on an earlier proposal from Gov. Pat McCrory.

The threat of coal ash spills has been a major issue in North Carolina since a huge spill at a Duke Energy plant left 70 miles of gray sludge in the Dan Rive.

The bill, sponsored by Senate leader Phil Berger of Eden and Senate Rules Committee Chairman Tom Apodaca, does not Duke to remove all of its coal ash from unlined pits near rivers and lakes. State regulators have said all 33 of Duke's dumps scattered at 14 sites across the state are contaminating groundwater.

Almost all the language in the bill, titled “Governor’s Coal Ash Action Plan,” is the same as what McCrory proposed April 16. There are a few tweaks to the language along the way but almost all the words and lines are the same.

"Addressing the environmental concerns presented by coal ash ponds remains one of the Senate's top priorities for this short session," Apodaca and Berger said in a statement. "It's important to get this conversation started right away, and Gov. McCrory's proposal to handle the Dan River coal ash spill and other coal ash ponds is a good starting point."

In a statement, McCrory said, "I look forward to working with lawmakers to find solutions for this more than 60-year-old problem," said McCrory, who retired from Duke after more than 28 years with the company.

However, the Senate bill – SB 729, filed Wednesday – adds a final part for appropriations that would fund 19 positions at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

McCrory’s original bill was blasted by environmental lawyer Frank Holleman as “a step backward.”

was riddled with problems, essentially in that it asks citizens, and the General Assembly, to trust DENR and Duke Energy to take care of the coal ash problem.

“Unfortunately, the governor and DENR have not opted to take a strong approach to cleaning up coal ash and protecting North Carolina’s communities,” Holleman told WNCN at the time.

Holleman also said the proposal “does not require Duke to clean up its coal ash pollution or move its ash to safe storage.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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