RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - North Carolina legislators have given final approval to a new process to allow Duke Energy to use less expensive alternatives to clean up coal ash pits at seven sites while ensuring drinking water is piped to residents near the ponds in about two years.
The House voted late Thursday for legislation developed after Gov. Pat McCrory vetoed another bill that also would have reinstated a state Coal Ash Management Commission that he never supported and sued over.
That commission is gone in the bill that surfaced this week and already cleared the Senate. The bill now goes to McCrory's desk.
The new legislation allows alternatives to closing pits at the seven sites without removing ash if Duke makes some repairs. Excavations will still continue at seven other sites.
Catawba Riverkeeper response to Coal Ash Bill:
The NC House of Representatives just voted to concur and pass H630, a dangerously bad coal ash bill that will allow Duke to leave these unlined, leaking sites propped high on the banks of our drinking water reservoirs. Please take a look at your representative.
If they're not red, you should be concerned that they would support such a bill. Thank you to all those who opposed this concurrence.
This is not over. A veto is not likely from the governor given that their office helped craft the bill. This is why we are in court fighting for cleanups -- so that science, engineering and the public are not dismissed. This is not over.
Duke Energy statement:
We appreciate the legislature and administration working together to craft a bipartisan solution that protects the environment and local communities, while preserving the full range of options to safely close ash basins in ways that also protect customer bills.
This legislation strengthens the Coal Ash Management Act, provides peace of mind through a permanent water supply to plant neighbors and promotes the beneficial reuse of coal ash.
The flexibility that this law provides will help ensure that science, not special interests, can provide the right closure solution for each of our sites. We are committed to meeting the requirements of the law and to being a leader in the safe closure of ash basins across the state.