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Coal ash bill causes controversy in NC

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World Coal,

US utility Duke Energy has welcomed a bill to strengthen North Carolina’s Coal Ash Management Act. The Bill – Senate Bill 71 – is currently moving through the North Carolina General Assembly and would, among other things, re-establish the Coal Ash Management Commission.

“We support this bill because it strengthens North Carolina’s Coal Ash Management Act by providing broad safeguards that protect people, pocketbooks and the environment,” the company said.

“Specifically, we support the reconstitution of the Coal Ash Management Commission and the vital role it plats in providing oversight and making recommendation on a variety of safety, environmental and cost factors for the disposal of this non-hazardous material,” the company continued.

The bill has been criticised, however, by those representing communities affected by leaking ash ponds with one lawyer calling it an attempt to “bail out” Duke Energy after North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) ordered the company to clean up its 33 coal ash ponds in the state.

“Under the existing law, after extensive public comments, DEQ was forced to conclude that Duke Energy must remove its coal ash from its dangerous and leaking pits across the state,” said Frank Hollerman, Senior Attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Centre, which is representing 12 citizen groups in lawsuits against Duke Energy.

“Now after heavy lobbying by Duke Energy, the Raleigh politicians want to re-open the process to try to find a way to Duke Energy off the hook,” Hollerman continued.

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