Coal ash is the topic of the first bill filed in the North Carolina Senate on May 14, 2014 as the General Assembly opened for the short session. The bill is backed by the Governor and is expected to be taken up during the short session. Reports are the Chair of the Senate Rules Committee will soon file a coal ash bill along similar lines and the two bills will be debated during the short session.
Coal ash has been a pressing topic in North Carolina since February 2014 because of a large spill from a utility company coal ash impoundment. The spill has been widely covered in the media and has placed coal ash on the top of the North Carolina political agenda during this election year.
Closure of coal ash impoundments is the initial focus of the bill. It will affect the North Carolina economy and utility companies in particular. The costs for impoundment closures are estimated to be immense and popular debate is raging about how these costs will be allocated to investors and/or utility customers. How soon and in what sequence these coal ash impoundments will be closed are additional topics.
The bill backed by the Governor also proposes to add about 19 new positions to the North Carolina agency which oversees environmental issues, the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Another provision would require annual inspections of the coal ash impoundments.