Office of the Speaker
Rep. Thom Tillis
Speaker of the House
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, July 3, 2014
House Passes Comprehensive Plan for Coal Ash Management
Raleigh, NC – The NC House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 729, “The Coal Ash Management Act of 2014”, on Thursday in a 94 to 16 bipartisan vote, which requires all coal ash ponds to be cleaned by 2029.
Like the Senate version, the House bill creates a Coal Ash Management Commission to oversee the assessment, planning and clean-up of all coal ash ponds across the state.
Ponds will be assessed and grouped into one of three classifications based upon risk to surrounding water supply. High-risk ponds will be required to be cleaned by 2019.
“We have a responsibility to safeguard North Carolina’s greatest natural resource, our water,” said Speaker Thom Tillis (R – Mecklenburg). “I am proud of our members who crafted this comprehensive bill, and I am confident that this plan will create a framework to protect North Carolinians now and in future generations.”
Other key components of the House coal ash bill include:
- Requires an emergency action plan in the event of a future spill
- Requires every pond in NC to be classified in one of three clean-up prioritization categories
- Mandates a quarterly written report to the Environmental Review Commission and Coal Ash Management Commission on the status of coal ash clean-up
“This coal ash plan is the result of collaboration between the House, Senate and Administration to provide a permanent solution for handling the coal ash that has been generated in our state over the past 80 years,” said bill sponsors, Rep. Ruth Samuelson (R – Mecklenburg), Rep. Chuck McGrady (R – Henderson) and Rep. Mike Hager (R – Rutherford). “This comprehensive plan we developed for North Carolina will be the foundation of coal ash management across the nation.”
The bill will also encourage the development of creative and innovative solutions for coal ash use statewide while creating parameters that ensure safe beneficial use.
Several changes were made to the Senate version of the bill including:
- Moves the proposed Coal Ash Management Commission to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)
- Extends the moratorium for rate cases related to coal ash clean-up to the end of 2016
- Requires DENR to study deadlines listed in the Act and report the findings back to the Environmental Review Commission by the end of 2014
- Shortens the required response time from 30 days to 24 hours to provide potable drinking water in the event of drinking water contamination
Coal ash cleanup was a legislative priority of the House and Senate for the short session. The bill now heads to the Senate for concurrence.