RALEIGH, N.C. -- North Carolina lawmakers have approved legislation they say makes the state the nation's first to address decades of toxic water pollution from residue left behind by coal-burning electricity plants.
The General Assembly on Wednesday approved legislation addressing the problem unmasked six months ago when a coal ash spill from a Duke Energy plant coated 70 miles of the Dan River in gray sludge. The measure goes to Gov. Pat McCrory before becoming law.
Environmentalists said the legislation improved on earlier efforts, but didn't go far enough.
Lawmakers said the measure would reverse a Superior Court judge's ruling that Duke must take "immediate action" to eliminate groundwater contamination that crosses onto a neighboring property. Environmental attorney Frank Holleman says that will allow Duke to study the problem indefinitely before starting cleanup.
Duke Energy's CEO, Lynn Good issued this statement in response:
"The comprehensive action by North Carolina lawmakers gives Duke Energy direction to move forward with a stronger standard for the management of coal ash at our facilities. We will immediately begin adapting our strategy to meet the requirements in the 2014 Coal Ash Management Act."