The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Opinion & Letters to the Editor

May 9, 2014

Coal ash fix proposed by Gov., Skvarla

Thursday, May 8, 2014 — RALEIGH – The state’s chief environmental regulator may well be correct that a one-size-fits-all approach to coal ash cleanup may not work.

John Skvarla, who heads the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources, recently joined Gov. Pat McCrory to outline a proposal to clean up Duke Energy’s 33 coal ash pits in the aftermath of the massive spill in the Dan River.

“The engineering and science is going to be a little more complicated than digging them all up and moving them to landfills,” Skvarla said.

The proposal from McCrory would give the department that Skvarla heads authority over how the cleanup proceeds. It would establish priorities and timeframes and let Duke propose how each should be closed.

That has environmental groups worried, especially because the governor has yet to produce specific legislation.

What McCrory and Skvarla are saying now is that the approach will be data-driven, that criteria will be set up to help determine how each ash pond is addressed.

Part of that criteria, no doubt, will be the proximity of the ash ponds to rivers, drinking water supplies and drinking water wells.

That’s fine.

But any criteria cannot be confined to the immediate risks posed by coal ash to what we humans may drink today. Allowing poisons to continue to leach into the ground and water, particularly at levels that are known to damage life over the long-term, is not acceptable.

A solution that allows that to occur will only have to be remedied again by another governor, another environmental regulator and another utility CEO at some future date.

Whether existing drinking water wells are endangered today does not mean that they won’t be tomorrow.

So, Skvarla may be right. Digging up the coal ash ponds and moving all the ash to lined landfills may not be the best solution in every case. But if the goal is not to end the complete environmental threat posed by the ash pits, he and McCrory have adopted the wrong goal.

The McCrory administration also cannot ignore what has happened in South Carolina. The cleanup there, which came at the prompting of the same environmental groups who were pushing for the ash ponds to be cleaned up here before the Dan River spill, has focused on removing the ash and contaminated soil to lined landfills.

Meanwhile, Duke Energy has already said it will remove ash from two ponds at the Riverbend plant site on the Catawba River north of Charlotte and from those at the Dan River site. The company plans to continue removing ash from an Asheville plant.

What should now be obvious to regulator, regulated, environmental advocates and the larger public is that the cleanup is not going to happen overnight. It will be a decade before all the ash sites are closed or made safe.

The massive spill on the Dan River demands action from our elected officials.

But those actions, whether taken today, tomorrow or next year, need to be the start of a lasting fix.

Scott Mooneyham is a syndicated columnist for Capitol Press Association and covers activities of the N.C. Legislature.

 

1
Text Only
Opinion & Letters to the Editor
  • cleaning supplies Don't judge mothers with messy homes

    I was building shelves in my garage when a neighbor girl, one of my 4-year-old daughter's friends, approached me and said, "I just saw in your house. It's pretty dirty. Norah's mommy needs to clean more."

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • We need your help

    Hurray for the Albemarle City Council. Council plans to battle N.C. Department of Transportation’s ranking of all 13 projects in Stanly County to the bottom of their priority list. Council is setting up petitions in various city buildings for citizens to sign.

    July 28, 2014

  • Council asks veterans to seek office

    The terms of office for the leaders of the Stanly County Veterans Council ended June 30. A call is being sent to veterans council members requesting candidates for the four elective offices of the council. A meeting has been set for 6:30 p.m. Aug. 12 at the DAV building. All council members are urged to attend.

    July 28, 2014

  • Mike Walden The gains and gaps in our economy

    Twice a year, I pull out my cloudy crystal ball and attempt to make some predictions about the direction and pace of the North Carolina economy. I just finished my latest effort and, as usual, the results are a combination of pluses and minuses.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jason O. Boyd Yellow journalism takes on new form, people are dumber for it

    Time to get on the soapbox for a few minutes.
    Let me clear my throat. Eh ... hem!
    People are dumb.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Brent Laurenz Special election adds to the mix

    RALEIGH – A busy slate of judicial elections this November got even busier recently when Judge John Martin of the N.C. Court of Appeals announced his retirement.
    A special statewide election to fill Martin’s seat will be added to the general election ballot, joining the four N.C. Supreme Court seats and three N.C. Court of Appeals races already slated for this fall.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Patrick Gannon Fake news or sign of some more trouble?

    RALEIGH – Of the three situations I can recall where agencies receiving large sums of taxpayer dollars wouldn’t divulge employees’ salaries, two of them ended badly. The third – involving a group of charter schools in Southeastern North Carolina – is playing out right now.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Almost half of America's obese youth don't know they're obese

    WASHINGTON - The good news is that after decades of furious growth, obesity rates finally seem to be leveling off in the U.S.. The bad news is that America's youth still appear to be dangerously unaware of the problem.

    July 23, 2014

  • Darth Vader is polling higher than all potential 2016 presidential candidates

    On the other hand, with a net favorability of -8, Jar Jar is considerably more popular than the U.S. Congress, which currently enjoys a net favorability rating of -65.

    July 23, 2014

  • D.G. Martin Where did all these new voters in North Carolina come from?

    “Voters born elsewhere make up nearly half of N.C. electorate.”
    So begins the latest DataNet report from the UNC Program on Public Life, directed by former journalist Ferrel Guillory.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads
Seasonal Content