Tuesday, March 11, 2014

McCrory: N.C. Utilities Commission (the one feds just subpoenaed) should decide who pays for coal-ash cleanup

Posted By on Tue, Mar 11, 2014 at 4:07 PM

During a press conference in Raleigh today, Gov. Pat McCrory said he was going to stay out of the debate over who should foot the bill for coal-ash cleanups around the state. The N.C. Utilities Commission should decide, he said.

A judge recently required Duke Energy to clean up the various coal-ash ponds it owns around the state after the toxic sludge spilled from an old pipe into the Dan River. Duke CEO Lynn Good has said customers should foot the $1 billion bill.

The site of the Dan River spill.
  • Flickr, Waterkeeper Alliance/Rick Dove
  • The site of the Dan River spill.

The governor told reporters Tuesday he wants to keep politics out of the decision-making on financial aspects of handling more than 30 ponds at 14 Duke Energy power plants. He says that's best left to the state Utilities Commission.

Also breaking today is news that, as part of its investigation into the recent Dan River coal-ash spill, the federal government has subpoenaed a decade's worth of records from the Utilities Commission.

It's been widely reported that prosecutors subpoenaed documents in their probe from Duke and the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

But the inclusion of the utilities commission adds a new wrinkle to what's known publicly about the inquiry by a federal grand jury scheduled to convene next week in Raleigh.

"An official criminal investigation of a suspected felony is being conducted by an agency of the United States and a federal grand jury," Assistant U.S. Attorney Banumathi Rangarajan wrote in the subpoena to the utilities commission.

Prosecutors have declined comment on that investigation, so the full extent of their probe is unclear.

The feds are mum about what exactly they're looking for, but there's a good chance it will involve the history of coal-ash handling by the state.

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