• 70°

Editorial: Getting tough on Duke Energy

It has taken too long and too many questionable developments have occurred, but we are grateful that finally the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources has shown a hint of spine in dealing with Duke Energy.
The record of favorable treatment, winking at violations and lax oversight before and after the energy giant’s coal ash pond spill have been troubling, to say the least. Evidence suggests that the insistence on loosening regulations and getting bureaucratic oversight out of the way of “creating jobs” might have gone too far, to say the least.
But last week, DENR officials rebuffed Duke’s plan to clean up 33 ash ponds at 14 plants. DENR Secretary John Skvaria — who has heretofore done verbal gyrations to defend his agency’s mild treatment of Duke — labeled the plan inadequate, according to the News & Observer of Raleigh. The agency told Duke to produce by Saturday a more comprehensive plan to remove the coal ash.
The agency’s new firmness comes as the N. C. Utilities Commission wades into the fray, legislators are preparing legislation to introduce in the session that begins in May, many assail the utility’s assertion that customers, not investors, will pay the costs to clean up the spill — and an advocacy group releases internal emails that seem to indicate the DENR staff and Duke representatives were in closer collaboration than would seem appropriate.
As Michael Biesecker and Mitch Weiss of The Associated Press reported, the emails “suggest state regulators were coordinating with Duke Energy before intervening in efforts by citizens groups trying to sue the company over groundwater pollution leeching from its coal-ash dumps.”
Complained Frank Holleman, a senior attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center: “Duke is the lawbreaker. DENR is the law enforcement agency. They are supposed to be protecting the people. Instead, they are working with the lawbreaker to find a way to limit the participation of citizens groups in the law enforcement proceedings.”
Duke has charged that the law center displayed “a reckless disregard for the facts” and the exchanges may have been fairly routine in negotiations between the state agency and businesses it regulates. Still, the emails raise questions about the nature of the relationship.
The legislation Democrats are drafting would among other things require Duke to close and move all of its coal ash ponds in safe storage away from water sources, the N&O reported. It would prevent Duke from passing clean-up costs to its customers.
It is important legislation the legislature should pass.
We hope, as this process unfolds, DENR will continue to find the tenacity to enforce rigorously the state’s laws designed to protect our waterways and water supplies.

Comments

Comments closed.

Local

Light installation could delay Bell Tower Green opening, but formal event still set for Sept. 10

Kannapolis

Kannapolis restroom listed among top 10 in the country, vying for top spot

Business

Mixed-use development planned near Atrium Health Ballpark

Local

Little League softball: Rowan plays for regional championship, qualifies for World Series

Nation/World

CDC changes course on indoor masks in some parts of the US

Nation/World

Racism of rioters takes center stage in Jan. 6 hearing

News

State briefs: Woman accused of taking baby to break-in

Nation/World

Man pleads guilty to 4 Asian spa killings, sentenced to life

Coronavirus

Rowan health director says COVID-19 deaths preventable as county reports No. 315

Local

Rowan County Planning Board denies Reaper’s Realm rezoning request after opposition from neighbors

College

Catawba College’s Newman Park renovations grow more extensive

Local

David Freeze begins cross-country cycling journey in San Diego

Local

Community remembrance events to focus on lynchings of the past, need for justice today

Local

August issue of Salisbury the Magazine is now available

Local

After 10 days, three hospitals, one diagnosis, Kassidy Sechler will return home

News

COVID-19 surging as North Carolina set to ease restrictions

Crime

Blotter: Police ask for help finding robbery suspect

Local

Three Rivers Land Trust finalizes deal to double size of nature preserve in Spencer

Local

Spin Doctors announced as headlining band for 2021 Cheerwine Festival

Ask Us

Ask Us: Readers ask about Hoffner murder case, ‘Fame’ location

Local

Cornhole tournament at New Sarum Brewery brings out Panthers fans, raises money for charity

Crime

Blotter: Salisbury man charged for breaking and entering, burglary tools

Nation/World

Senators race to overcome final snags in infrastructure deal

Crime

Child killed in Monroe drive-by shooting; 1 arrested