Coal Ash takes over North Carolina

Since my last post, there are 2 MAJOR things that have happened in North Carolina: Fracking and Coal Ash.

Sierra Club volunteers meet with Rep. Queen on Coal Ash Lobby Day

A couple of weeks ago, the North Carolina General Assembly lifted the moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as “fracking”. I followed the bill throughout the lengthy and heated debates, from the committee stages to the House and Senate Floor. In the end, legislators decided to move forward and lift the moratorium on fracking before the rules and regulations are in place. During the final readings, many groups were at the legislature protesting the bill, but the House and Senate still passed the bill. Later that week, the Governor signed the bill and it became law.

Now, the General Assembly is focused on coal ash. You may remember in February that there was a huge coal ash spill in North Carolina at the Dan River from one of Duke Energy’s coal ash plants. Since then, legislators and the Governor have been working on getting a coal ash bill in place. The Governor put forth a solid proposal, but it did not go far enough to protect our state and clean up the  14 Coal Ash plants in the state (there are 33 coal ash ponds throughout the state). After the Governor came out with his bill, the Sierra Club had a lobby day where volunteers from across the state came to talk to their legislators to get the coal ash plants in their district cleaned up.

 

The Senate now has a bill that was debated on the floor this week! The Senate bill is another step forward from the Governor’s– putting hard timelines for coal ash pond clean up in the bill, but it still does not cover clean up of ALL 14 of the Coal Ash Plants. (Currently, it is only listing 4 as high priority sites to be completely cleaned up). The bill will go to the House next week to debate, first in committee and then to the floor. At the Sierra Club, we have been working to get the strongest bill that we can in order to protect our lovely state.

It hasnt all been coal ash and fracking, although a lot of the time it seems like that. A couple weeks ago, I attended an event the Sierra Club put on in Raleigh to celebrate the wilderness. It was to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the passage of the NC wilderness Act–landmark legislation. At the event, I was able to meet a lot of our volunteers and many other people involved in the Sierra Club.

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