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Dig It Up … Dig It All Up

Enough stalling and half-measures: The Cooper Administration says it’s time to dig up all the leaking coal ash pits, and relocate the ash to lined, safely situated landfills.

Last Monday, North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Secretary Michael Regan announced that Duke Energy will be required to remove toxic coal ash from nine impoundments at six coal-fired power plants. Eight impoundments were covered by previous removal rulings.

Reagan said, “DEQ rigorously reviewed the proposals [regarding how to handle the remaining coal ash], and the science points us clearly to excavation as the only way to protect public health and the environment. Today’s action sends another clear message that protecting public health and natural resources is a top priority of the Cooper administration.”

Duke has until August 1 to file its plans for implementing the removal order. The company has not yet indicated how it will respond, and in past filings has claimed that it cannot meet various action timetables. In addition, fights are anticipated over who should pay for the cleanups, Duke’s stockholders or customers.

“We are thrilled that Gov. Cooper has sided with North Carolinians who for years have spoken loud and clear that Duke Energy must clean up its coal ash mess,” said NCLCV Director of Governmental Relations, Dan Crawford. “Moving toxic coal ash away from drinking water sources used by hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians is a common-sense move. That’s why Duke was already required to fully excavate eight of its other coal ash dumps, and there was no reason to not do the same for these nine. It’s what the people wanted, and it’s what science and justice demanded.”

NCLCV encourages conservation advocates to contact Gov. Roy Cooper and thank him for the decision to require Duke to clean up its coal ash mess.

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