Thursday, April 3, 2014

Duke Energy Attempts to Block Citizens' Groups in Coal Ash Case

'Instead of cleaning up, what they’ve done is lawyer up'

Lauren McCauley
A North Carolina resident holds sediment covered in fine, gray coal ash following the February spill into the Dan River. (Photo: Eric Chance / Appalachian Voices)Duke Energy is attempting to block citizens' groups from taking part in regulatory action against the company's 14 polluting coal ash dumps across North Carolina.
According to the Associated Press, Duke filed a motion on Monday to remove the citizens’ groups from the case, arguing that the groups ought to be “prohibited from expanding this enforcement action beyond the claims asserted and relief sought by” the state environmental agency.

The energy giant is hoping to block local and environmental organizations from having "any role in the case," leaving litigation and enforcement to state regulators—who have a long history of giving preferential treatment to Duke.

"Duke fears that we would seek to strongly enforce the law against Duke's illegal coal ash pollution and dangerous storage on North Carolina rivers," said Frank Holleman, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center, in an interview with Common Dreams. "Well, they're right. That's exactly what we will do and what we have done."

As AP explains:

The state enforcement case began last year when the environmental law group, working on behalf of a coalition of citizens groups, tried to use the U.S. Clean Water Act to sue Duke in federal court over groundwater pollution leeching from its coal ash dumps.

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