The Senate cast a final vote today in support of S 729, the Coal Ash Management Act of 2014. Some good amendments passed, including two by Senate Rules Chair Tom Apodaca, who repeatedly credited Sierra Club for our input. A particularly important amendment was offered by Sen. Josh Stein (D-Wake) to limit the impact of a concession gained in the legislature last session by Duke Energy that amended the statute regulating sources of water pollution by extending the compliance boundary for groundwater quality standards all the way out to a facility’s property line, abandoning the previous 500-foot limit. Automatically placing a compliance boundary at a property line removes any obligation for polluters to address groundwater contamination until after it has contaminated neighboring property and could allow a polluter to buy up neighboring properties to expand the area in which they could legally pollute. Sen. Stein’s amendment removes the assumption that a compliance boundary is at the property boundary; a step in the right direction.
But our work is by no means over yet. Next the bill goes to the House. Of particular concern is that the House make changes to better protect communities near coal ash sites designated “low risk” that are not appropriate for capping in place because of the proximity of coal ash to the water table. Please contact your House representative and ask them to ensure that the coal ash bill protects groundwater by requiring that ash be separate from the water table.
We will be back in touch with more on what you can do as this legislation heads into the final stretch, but for now, please know that your voices have been heard.
Thank you, Cassie
Cassie Gavin, Director of Government Relations
Sierra Club – NC Chapter