State lawmakers consider new laws in coal ash hearing

RALEIGH

One environmental advocate told ABC11 that it was the most substantive committee meeting she had been to on any environmental hearing in the past three years. No votes were taken, but a lot of questions were asked and potential lines in the sand seem to be taking shape.

It was lawmakers' last chance to learn about Duke Energy's coal ash operations in North Carolina, and the clean-up of the Dan River after a massive spill of ash back in February.

They asked about how it might work if the state made Duke move all of its coal ash from its 33 ponds into lined landfills, and it turns out, there is much more ash than existing landfills can handle. One possible solution is to make Duke build new landfills on existing sites.

Lawmakers heard from the head of Duke Energy North Carolina, who took responsibility for the spill on the Dan River back in early February, but said any solution going forward will take time and careful review.

They also heard from critics, many of the same people who have been making the most noise since the spill that started it all.

It seems almost guaranteed; lawmakers will come up with some kind of legislation this summer. The big question is whether it will have any teeth and what the timeline will look like.

On Tuesday, Duke laid out an action plan that could leave many of the ponds untouched for five to six years. Critics and lawmakers alike say that is too long.

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