Coal Ash

Coal Ash in North Carolina: DEQ vs. Duke Energy 

In 2013, DEQ filed four lawsuits alleging unlawful discharges and groundwater contamination at all 14 Duke Energy facilities in North Carolina. Two major coal ash spills occurred in North Carolina thereafter, both at coal ash containment sites owned by Duke Energy: tens of thousands of tons spilled into the Dan River in 2014 and again into the Cape Fear River in 2018. These disasters brought national attention to Duke Energy’s mishandling of coal ash ponds. Lawmakers passed the Coal Ash Management Act (CAMA) of 2014 and again in 2016 to establish cleanup protocols and DEQ risk assessments of the 33 ash ponds at Duke Energy’s 14 plants. 

A Win for DEQ 

In April 2019, after a series of settlement proposals, public hearings, and appeals, DEQ ordered Duke Energy to excavate all their remaining coal ash ponds in North Carolina. On December 31, 2019, a state court approved a settlement agreement to move more than 80 million tons of toxic ash to lined landfills, securing the largest coal ash excavation in U.S. history. 

Looking Forward

Under CAMA, Duke submitted closure plans for excavations at the Allen, Belews Creek, Cliffside, Marshall, Mayo, and Roxboro sites in late 2019, and public comments were heard in February 2020. DEQ is currently evaluating revisions from April 2020, and their final action on the closure plans will be due 120 days after deeming each plan complete. Duke Energy must implement these plans within 60 days of DEQ approval. 

In 2019, we advocated against Senate Bill 559, better known as the Duke Energy rate hike bill, which would have increased Duke’s annual profits by at least $100 million, while burdening consumers with the cost of cleaning up coal ash. With the strength of you, our members, we helped block this bill.

More Scorecard

Gov. Cooper’s Report Card
Our governor is fighting to protect our health and climate and to advance clean energy.
Bills NCLCV Acted On, 2019-20 Sessions
Luckily, most of the worst legislation never saw the light of day.
Green Tie Awards 2020
Find out which legislators we honored at this year’s ceremony with Gov. Cooper and Cory Booker!
Cuts to DEQ Funding: Impacts on Water Quality
DEQ’s job is to protect our health but legislators have been slashing its budget for a decade.
PFAS and GenX
These “forever chemicals” are a growing problem that legislators and the EPA are keeping us from solving.
Coal Ash
Gov. Cooper forced Duke Energy to move its coal ash but legislators are trying to let them send us the bill.
Hog Waste and the Farm Act of 2019
Legislators keep doing Smithfield Foods’ bidding, harming our health while protecting pork polluters.
Environmental Justice
Communities of color are disproportionately impacted by pollution and climate change.
Atlantic Coast Pipeline
In a victory for North Carolinians, Duke and Dominion Energy cancelled their pipeline plans.
Clean Energy
Gov. Cooper is leading us toward a clean energy future with good-paying jobs and a healthier climate.
Climate Resilience
Gov. Cooper’s DEQ has released a plan to help us weather the climate storm.

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