McCrory won't sign, veto coal ash bill

Posted September 9, 2014
Updated September 10, 2014

— Gov. Pat McCrory announced Tuesday afternoon he'll allow legislation to clean up coal ash in North Carolina to become law without his signature.

The proposal was the topic of tense debate last month between House and Senate leaders, who sent the governor a compromise plan in the final hours of the 2014 legislative session. 

According to a statement released by McCrory's office late Tuesday, the governor supports "continued action" on the clean up, but he has concerns about the constitutionality of the oversight commission created by the legislation. The majority of members on that independent panel will be appointed by state lawmakers, not the governor. 

"While there are great pieces to this legislation, there are major deficiencies that need to be corrected,” McCrory said in the statement.

“One of the major shortcomings is the formation of another unchecked, non-judicial commission that reports to no one, has no accountability and adds another level of unneeded bureaucracy. That’s no way to run an efficient government. The Legislature’s duty is to draft and pass laws, not execute them. That is the executive branch’s duty,” he continued.   

McCrory said he will seek an advisory opinion from the North Carolina Supreme Court to "clarify the constitutional issue" but wishes to "avoid a prolonged legal challenge." If the court doesn't provide guidance, however, the statement says, his administration will pursue a lawsuit. 

The governor also cited other operational and funding problems with the proposal.

Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger expressed irritation at McCrory's position but said he was glad the proposal would soon become law.

"The governor’s primary concern appears to be a desire to control the coal ash commission and avoid an independent barrier between his administration and former employer," Berger said in a statement.

McCrory worked for Duke Energy, which owns the ash ponds, for nearly 30 years before he was elected governor.

"Keeping the commission separate from the agency that regulates coal ash is not only constitutional, it is a wise policy choice," Berger said. "For nearly 150 years, North Carolina’s state constitution has given the General Assembly the right to make appointments to independent commissions. That right has been affirmed by our state Supreme Court since the 1800s and has long been the basis for legislative appointments and elections to a variety of boards and commissions."

Earlier in 2014, McCrory unveiled his own coal ash clean up proposal, but lawmakers initially said it was too weak.

“Most of the plan that passed the Legislature last month mirrored our plan closely, and there are numerous good points to the legislation, including closing loopholes made by the actions of previous legislatures and governors," the statement reads. "It makes North Carolina the national leader in acknowledging and attacking the coal ash problem that has been building for more than half a century. I will let this bill become law because the positive parts of the legislation need to be implemented as soon as possible.”

Late last month, McCrory told NCSpin he was likely to sign the bill, despite his constitutional concerns.

The bill arrived on the governor's desk on Aug. 20. Under state law, the governor has 30 days from the date the legislature adjourns to decide whether to sign or veto a bill. It will become law Sept. 19 if he takes no action in it.

North Carolina's gubernatorial veto power is different from that of the U.S. president. If the president doesn't sign a bill, it does not become law. That's known as a pocket veto. North Carolina's governor doesn't have a pocket veto. If he or she doesn't sign a bill within the time allotted by statute, it becomes law anyway.


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  • miseem Sep 12, 2014

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    And how would she know about the problems with the VA in Arizona, the site that started the investigation? As for Obamacare, three cheers for her support. Not raising the debt ceiling? We already had a drop in credit ratings due to the do nothing US House trying to stop government by tying the budget to raising the debt ceiling. Are you in favor of not paying debts? And how do you propose she keeps companies from out sourcing? The GOP is famous for it's stand on corporate rights, but now they want government meddling into company practices? And as far as illegals, more have been deported over the last 6 years than any similar period in decades. But there is no way to really "seal' the border without armed guards told to shoot to kill, minefields and walls. Like East Germany. Even the border between Israel and Gaza is not completely sealed, and that is much more heavily defended and much shorter than the US Mexico border.

  • bmac813 Sep 12, 2014

    This story has been up for over a week now, WHY?? Oh I know its election Time. Make the GOP look Bad.
    Where are all the Stories about what Kay Hagan didn't do for the VA that she Promised she would do, and about how she stood up for Obama care. How she Voted to Raise the Debt Ceiling, How the Jobs are going to China and not here in America. OR About how nothing is being done about the Illegals. OH, I forgot she's a Democrat.

  • miseem Sep 11, 2014

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    McCrory's logic is politics and to protect his turf. He wants to make sure commission members are appointed by his office, not the General Assembly. It really has nothing to do with any concern about the coal ash ponds. And by not signing it, it still becomes law but he can claim (and probably pull the wool over many voters eyes) that he wanted harsher requirements and time lines than the legislation. And it also gives him the cover that he basically recused himself from the decision when his past work with Duke Power comes up.

  • Edward Levy Sep 11, 2014
    user avatar

    Go going Gov Pat. You have sound logic for not signing and no veto. The negative comments are coming from the other "party". NJ Supreme Court says that you are CORRECT and so do I.

  • oakcity Sep 11, 2014

    pats making a stand by not doing anything.

    yeah that makes sense.

  • Larry Lynch Sep 10, 2014
    user avatar

    tween perdue Easley and mccrory nc just cant get a break

  • katgotyertongue Sep 10, 2014

    Of course he won't sign it....

  • Inter Alios Sep 10, 2014

    Pityful excuse for a governor.

  • George Herbert Sep 10, 2014
    user avatar

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    Actually the N.C. Supreme Court has provided advisory opinions to governors and the General Assembly. It's not something Gov. McCrory dreamed up.

  • tomfoolery Sep 10, 2014

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    Exactly! If DENR had been doing their job in the first place, then there wouldn't have been a coal ash spill to talk about...