The Senate voted unanimously today in support of S 729, the Senate’s coal ash bill. The measure will be back on the floor for a third and final vote by the Senate tomorrow and then the bill will go to the House for consideration next week.
A number of amendments were offered on the floor. Two modest but good amendments passed (one to encourage reuse of coal ash and one to require longer monitoring of coal ash structural fill sites). A third positive amendment offered by Senator Josh Stein (D – Wake) was withdrawn for further reworking but may be back on the floor tomorrow. And Senator Mike Woodard (D – Durham, Caswell, Person) offered an amendment to require Duke to pay for the full cost of all coal ash cleanup at all sites; his amendment was blocked by a procedural move and thus failed.
The real focus of the debate today, though, was on amendments offered by a number of senators seeking to have the coal ash sites in or near their districts added to the bill as priorities for full and clean closure. Currently, of the 14 sites, only Asheville, Dan River, Sutton (Wilmington) and Riverbend (Charlotte) are listed by name in the bill as priorities for full and clean closure (excavation of ash and removal to lined storage).
All of the proposed amendments to add sites to the high priority list failed along party lines, but may drive further changes in the bill by focusing public attention on the sites not identified as priorities.
Please thank these Senators for offering amendments to have the coal ash sites in or near their districts named in the legislation as priority sites for clean-up and for their powerful words on the Senate floor:
Sen. Valerie Foushee (D- Orange, Chatham): Cape Fear (Moncure)
Sen. Gene McLaurin (D-Anson, Richmond, Rowan): Buck
Sen. Gene Jackson (D-Mecklenburg): Marshall
Sen. Terry Van Dyne (D-Buncombe): Cliffside
The coal ash bill may see more amendments tomorrow in the Senate during third reading, then the House will have its chance to debate the bill in committees. The bill is slated to go to House Environment and then House Public Utilities Committees before it reaches the House floor – the bill could be finalized next week.
Cassie Gavin, Director of Government Relations
Sierra Club – NC Chapter