(Raleigh, N.C.) – Duke Energy claims a 2014 coal ash spill in Eden that polluted the Dan River in Danville didn’t necessarily result in legislation designed to prevent future environmental catastrophes.

Duke state President David Fountain testified during a rate hike hearing that federal coal ash rules were already being drafted at the time, and it’s possible that the North Carolina legislature would have passed the requirements without the spill.

Fountain was asked twice by Sierra Club attorney Matthew Quinn whether the law was motivated by a spill that turned parts of the river gray. Fountain replied that he really could not admit that.
The issue is crucial because part of Duke Energy Progress’ rate hike request centers on whether shareholders or rate payers should foot the cost of cleaning up coal ash ponds as now required under North Carolina law. At issue is whether those costs were prudently incurred. The Sierra Club argues that storing hundreds of tons of toxic coal ash in unlined pits near water was not prudent.