• EPA suspends enforcement of environmental laws amid coronavirus

    By: Rebecca Beitsch, The Hill March 26, 2020 The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a sweeping suspension of its enforcement of environmental laws Thursday, telling companies they would not need to meet environmental standards during the coronavirus outbreak. The temporary policy, for which the EPA has set no end date, would allow any number of industries to skirt environmental laws, with the agency saying it will not “seek penalties for noncompliance with routine monitoring and reporting obligations.” Cynthia Giles, who headed the EPA’s Office of Enforcement during the Obama administration, called it a moratorium on enforcing the nation’s environmental laws…


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  • Stopping Rate Hikes for Duke Energy’s Dirty Energy & Climate-Busting Plans!

    The fight for full excavation of Duke Energy’s toxic coal ash pits finally came to a close when the company signed a settlement agreement with DEQ and community groups to remove over 80 million tons of coal ash from unlined pits across the state. While this marks a major victory for impacted community members living near these sites, Duke is trying to slap them with the bill to pay for massive cleanup. Rate cases for both Duke Energy Carolinas (DEC) and Duke Energy Progress (DEP) are currently underway, with Duke seeking to recover costs associated with coal ash cleanup, upgrades…


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  • Consumers shouldn’t pay cleanup costs for coal ash dumping

    Op-Ed by Rachel Velez, Clean Water for North Carolina Published in the Burlington Times-News January 26, 2020 Impacted community members and environmental justice activists won a huge victory earlier this month when the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality, community groups and Duke Energy signed a settlement agreement requiring the utility giant to fully excavate 80 million tons of coal ash from leaking, unlined pits in six sites across the state. This isn’t a complete victory, however, if Duke Energy is allowed to shove the cost of its coal ash cleanup onto customers — and that’s exactly what it’s asking the N.C. Utilities Commission…


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  • Judge’s ruling revokes coal ash landfill permits in Chatham, Lee counties

    By: Jessica Patrick, WRAL December 16, 2019 CHATHAM COUNTY, N.C. — Environmental groups are praising a decision revoking permits for coal ash landfills in Chatham and Lee counties. On Friday, a judge ruled the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) exceeded its authority and failed to use proper procedure by issuing permits for the Brickhaven and Colon mine sites, according to the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL). The ruling comes after environmentalists voiced concerns over groundwater contamination from coal ash, the powdery substance that remains after burning coal. Coal ash ponds located…


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  • Coal ash case: DEQ 2, Duke Energy 0

    By: Lisa Sorg, NC Policy Watch Oct. 29, 2019 An administrative law judge has again ruled against Duke Energy, determining that state environmental regulators acted appropriately in several aspects of requiring the utility to fully excavate its unlined coal ash basins. Judge Selina Malherbe ruled on two motions yesterday: DEQ provided adequate notice to Duke Energy prior to issuing the April 1, 2019 closure election decision; DEQ properly limited Duke Energy to filing a single closure plan for each coal ash impoundment. “The judge’s ruling confirms that DEQ acted openly and transparently as we made an informed decision on the closure of the coal…


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  • Lead Isotopes Provide New Tool for Tracking Coal Ash in Dust, Soil and Sediments

    Featuring: Avner Vengosh, Gary Dwyer, Zhen Wang Oct. 22, 2019 DURHAM, N.C. – Inhaling dust that contains fly ash particles from coal combustion has been linked to lung and heart disease, cancer, nervous system disorders and other ill effects. But tracking the presence of coal ash in dust has been a challenge for scientists. Until now. Researchers at Duke University and the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill have developed a new forensic tracer that uses lead isotopes to detect coal fly ash in dust and other solids, including soil and sediments. Fly ash is a fine particulate produced by burning pulverized coal. Tests…


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  • Coal Ash Is Hazardous. Coal Ash Is Waste. But According to the EPA, Coal Ash Is Not “Hazardous Waste.”

    By: Jeff Turrentine, NRDC September 6, 2019 A memorial to the workers that have become ill or died since they participated in the clean-up of the Kingston Fossil Plant coal ash spill Coal ash, a catchall term for several kinds of waste left over at power plants that burn coal, typically contains a number of substances harmful to human health—arsenic, chromium, lead, and mercury among them. Coal ash is incredibly dangerous. Short-term exposure…


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  • In the House, a major amendment to controversial Duke Energy rate-making bill hands the hot potato back to the Senate

    By: Lisa Sorg, NC Policy Watch August 21, 2019 A key provision in Senate Bill 559 was upended in the House Tuesday afternoon, which made the measure more palatable to opponents but added uncertainty to it future. Colloquially known as the Duke Energy rate-making bill, it contained a controversial section that allowed the utilities commission to approve multi-year rate plans. Utilities could then avoid requesting rate hikes more often. While bill proponents in the legislature said it would add certainty to rate-making, there’s no guarantee that rates would decrease. If they increased, customers could be locked into higher bills for…


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  • BREAKING: Judge rules for DEQ in Round 1 of coal ash cleanup appeal

    By: Lisa Sorg, NC Policy Watch August 2, 2019 State environmental regulators were not wrong in choosing the method of closure — excavation and removal of millions of tons of coal ash — at Duke Energy impoundments, Administrative Law Judge Selina Malherbe has ruled. Duke Energy had contested DEQ’s April 1 decision to require it to excavate all of the coal ash from nine unlined impoundments at its remaining six plants. The ash would then be placed in lined landfills onsite or offsite. Private lawsuits already have compelled Duke Energy to excavate ash from impoundments at eight of its 14 North Carolina plants. Duke…


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  • Controversial Duke Energy ratemaking bill stalls in North Carolina

    By: Elizabeth Ouzts, Energy News Network July 24, 2019 The proposal would allow state regulators to approve multiyear rate increases based on projected spending. A controversial North Carolina bill to allow regulators to approve multiyear rate increases for Duke Energy is stalled in the Republican-controlled General Assembly. Authored by leaders of both parties, Senate Bill 559 cleared the Senate in May and looked poised for passage by the House of Representatives earlier this month.  But it was pulled from the full House calendar July 10, reassigned to committee the following week, and hasn’t been debated or discussed since. The maneuvers are a strong sign…


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