Raleigh, N.C. — A state lawmaker said Friday that he wants to reconstitute the panel to oversee the cleanup of unlined coal ash pits across the state.
Gov. Pat McCrory shut down the Coal Ash Management Commission in March following a state Supreme Court ruling that the General Assembly set the panel up wrong. The court determined that creating a commission controlled by appointments from top lawmakers to carry out executive branch functions violated constitutional separation of powers rules.
The state Division of Environmental Quality, an agency overseen directly by McCrory, has been handling the coal ash situation since then.
"The Coal Ash Management Commission is needed to review the recommendations of DEQ," Rep. Chuck McGrady, R-Henderson, said in a statement. "The legislature wanted an independent body to consider DEQ's decisions on which coal ash ponds must be cleaned up first and how they would be cleaned up. I am working closely with Senate leadership to move the legislation in advance of DEQ issuing its initial decisions so the newly reconstituted commission will have the ability to review them."
Coal ash is the material left over after coal is burned for fuel. The ash has been dumped into lagoons near power plants for years, and one of those lagoons spilled tons of the toxic material into the Dan River in February 2014.
That prompted lawmakers to lay down rules for cleaning up the environmental hazard, and they created the Coal Ash Management Commission to dictate which of the more than 30 lagoons got cleaned up first and to ensure the entire process was completed.
McGrady said his bill also would address appointments to two other state commissions affected by the Supreme Court ruling.