Since I wrote about Duke's proposal to build new power plants at Cliffside in early 2007, I've kind of fallen out of the loop. Last spring, the utilities commission approved one new unit, but denied the second.
That wasn't the end of it. Bureaucracy being what it is, Duke now has to secure an air permit from another set of state regulators to get this thing cranking. Jim Warren of NC WARN has been on the front-end of efforts to stop the Cliffside project. The following is his latest sally:
Feds urged to take control of pollution case at Cliffside plant
State has failed to heed EPA; feds should deny the permit, NC WARN says
DURHAM, NC – The US Environmental Protection Agency should withdraw state authority over a contentious and long-delayed air permit for a coal-fired power plant planned by Duke Energy. That’s the thrust of a letter sent to EPA today by watchdog group NC WARN, which explained that the state has failed to address multiple technical and legal deficiencies identified by two federal agencies and others.
EPA allows states to implement and oversee sections of the federal Clean Air Act, and has in the past withdrawn authority when states failed their duty.
In the letter, NC WARN attorney John Runkle detailed that the state has not responded to problems raised by EPA and the National Park Service regarding the draft permit. One issue of considerable concern is that Duke Energy must evaluate the cumulative impacts the proposed 800 megawatt plant would have on regional air quality.
“We agree with your agency’s assessment that the EPA regulations ... disallow this,” he wrote.
“The EPA must demand – not ask – the state to correct the serious flaws in Duke Energy’s pollution permit,” said Jim Warren, director of NC WARN today.
The EPA already has a separate lawsuit against Duke for inadequate controls over mercury pollution, and NC WARN has a legal action underway against the state and Duke regarding Cliffside’s water permit.
“We’re in a good-ole boy state where utilities exert pervasive influence over politicians and regulators,” Warren added. “The federal government must now step in and deny the Cliffside permit, or at least demand that Duke stop cutting corners and produce the work required under federal law.”