|Champions of the public good,|
Sen. Dan Soucek and
Rep. Jonathan Jordan
Duke Energy led the new Republican majority in the North Carolina General Assembly by their noses to insert 330 little words into a bill regulating water quality (among other things), altering "a provision that had been on the books for decades, requiring Duke to halt the source of contamination if its subterranean plumes of pollution crept more than 500 feet from its ash dumps."
But even before Duke's lobbyists began whispering in legislators' ears, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) had not been enforcing the law (under either Democratic or Republican administrations)
A "compliance boundary" is like an early warning system. If groundwater contamination inside the line exceeds state environmental standards, a company is supposed to take corrective action. The goal is to stop the spread of pollution to neighboring properties, as well as rivers and streams.
But that wasn’t happening. Instead of enforcing the limit, state officials were letting Duke continue to pollute groundwater inside its compliance boundaries around old ash pits without taking any action to stop the contamination. At some plants, regulators even let Duke redraw its compliance boundaries when it looked like contamination might cross the line — a stalling tactic to avoid the cost of cleanup.
After environmental groups began attempting to sue DENR and Duke Energy to enforce water pollution laws, Duke's lobbyists and their blank checks went into action in 2013:
Working closely with lawmakers, the lobbyists helped craft a provision to conform to the way state regulators had been interpreting the law. The change would allow Duke to contaminate groundwater until it crossed onto a neighbor’s property.
The fact that the general public is just now learning how corrupted state government has become via the largest and most powerful corporate bully in the state does not lessen the outrage. Don't forget either that Gov. Squishy, a 29-year employee of Duke Energy, signed that abomination into law.