John Skvarla: McCrory took swift action on coal ash

March 25, 2014 

Thank you for pointing out in your March 23 editorial “ Before coal ash spill, GOP was bashing environmental rules, groups” that the spill into the Dan River from Duke Energy’s 1968 coal ash pond was not the fault of the McCrory administration. How gracious.

While the McCrory administration, the EPA and others work to solve this longstanding problem, you have used it in your ongoing efforts to attack the governor. It is unfortunate for you that you must include the inconvenient fact that, while nothing was done about coal ash for decades under Democratic leadership, the McCrory administration took swift action, suing the utility over groundwater contamination and illegal discharges within 45 days of taking office.

Also unfortunate for you is your reliance on the Associated Press for information about almost anything related to coal ash. Your statement that recent legislation “extended the compliance line for groundwater violations” was incorrectly reported by the AP, even though reporters were given ample time and information to write an accurate story. You will need to ask them why they chose to ignore it.

The truth is that the 2013 Regulatory Reform Act did not extend any compliance boundaries. It was merely a codification of an existing rule, which is why the administration took no position on it. The bill language, while not easy to understand, does include this sentence: “Nothing in this subsection shall be interpreted to require a revision to an existing compliance boundary.” In the future, please ask us for more information so you do not mislead your readers.

John Skvarla

Secretary, N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Raleigh

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