McCrory: 'Keep politics out' of coal ash decision

Posted March 10, 2014

A coal ash pond at the former Lee Steam Station near Goldsboro sits along the Neuse River.

— Gov. Pat McCrory said Monday that he wants to "keep the politics out" of the decision of who pays for cleaning up coal ash sites across North Carolina.

Attorney General Roy Cooper, who is expected to challenge McCrory for governor in 2016, said earlier in the day that he's opposed to allowing Duke Energy to charge utility customers for the removal of its coal ash ponds.

On Friday, Duke Chief Executive Lynn Good said the utility will foot the cleanup bill for last month's ash spill in the Dan River, but the company will seek to "recover" costs from consumers if it's required to remove or relocate coal ash from 14 sites around the state.

"We've got to go through the process and understand that the Utilities Commission is the commission that needs to make these very difficult decisions, and one of the things we are going to do is keep the politics out of this very serious environmental problem," McCrory said.

The North Carolina Utilities Commission, a seven-member regulatory board, would have to approve any requested surcharge or rate increases to recover cleanup costs. Duke Chief Financial Officer Steve Young noted on a Feb. 18 earnings call with stock analysts that the state tends to approve recovery for environmental remediation. 

Three of the seven current members were appointed by McCrory, and another three were appointed by former Govs. Mike Easley and Bev Perdue. The chairman, Ed Finley, was originally appointed by Easley and then reappointed as chairman by McCrory last July.    

Cooper, said he doesn't believe Duke should be allowed to recover any costs for removing its coal ash ponds.

"Duke Energy should clean up the coal ash at its own expense, and we will fight for consumers if the company tries to charge them,” Cooper said in a statement.

McCrory said the cleanup cost is only one step in the process for dealing with the toxic ash.

"We are going to deal with it, we are going to clean it up and we are going to have a long-term policy to make sure that it doesn't happen again," he said. "Then I will have the commission that is responsible for figuring out who pays for it make the tough decision that they need to make."


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  • raleighboy524 Mar 12, 2014

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    If you think Duke should not pay for removal of ponds that it created and owns is common sense, then I plead guilty to not understanding what common sense is. If a truck spilled paint in your front yard, should you pay for cleanup, or should the truck company? From what you say, it sounds like you would happily pay for that cleanup.

  • notexactly Mar 12, 2014

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    My way of thinking is the common sense way. Tired of hearing its the gops fault when the problems were around many years ago when the state was 100% controlled by dems. Duke already said they were paying for the spills. If the ponds were built per state regulations at the time and now the state said they have to be moved or upgraded then we as consumers logically will pay for it. This is no different than any other state mandate that puts more regs on any business. They will pass it along to the consumer. This is like Obama care. This don't seem to bother you guys that many of us are paying more for less. I don't like either one and don't agree with either one, but to say Duke should have to pay for pond removal that were legal at one time is insane. If you don't like it go off the grid. I would if I could afford it. That is my opinion, you are free have yours.

  • Wacky_dood Mar 11, 2014

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    Fine, you drink it.

    I'll take my water without coal ash.

  • David Collins Mar 11, 2014
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    Duke should be totally be held responsible for cleaning up their mess and should not be able to recover their cost through rate increases.

  • Mike Welsch Mar 11, 2014
    user avatar

    McCrory can't be serious "Keep politics out of coal ash decision?!?! If he was on the opposite side of the issue he would be one of the first to use the problem as a political "black eye" for the opposition. This guy is going to be a 1-term governer - at least I'm hoping and praying that he is - as is the Republican legislative majority.

  • raleighboy524 Mar 11, 2014

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    I thought the GOP/McCrory crowd ran on a platform of doing things differently from the way the Dems did them....Maybe they meant differently the same.

  • bmac813 Mar 11, 2014

    Come on Now , This couldn't have been happening when Perdue was in Office.
    No these things just happen when Republican are in Office.
    My Question is ,WHY didn't Perdue Run for Re-Election????????? If she was doing such a Great Job, Than she should have run Again.

  • hd5605hd2 Mar 11, 2014

    This is the cost of doing business in an slight of hands manner and just another way for the BIG DEEP pockets of Duke Power to cost responsibility to those who don't have those deep pockets. Let it dip into your bottom line profits and effect the BIG guys bonuses.

  • recontwice Mar 11, 2014

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    There are no republican deadbeat dads?

  • raleighboy524 Mar 11, 2014

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    I like the way you think. My facts are opinions. And your opinions are facts. Thank goodness we're not discussing whether the Earth is flat.