NC Governor Won't Block Coal Ash Bill... But He Won't Sign It Either

Sep 10, 2014

On Feb. 2, about 39,000 tons of coal ash spilled from a Duke Energy facility into the Dan River, north of Eden, N.C.
Credit Steven Alexander / USFWS

Governor Pat McCrory says he'll allow a coal ash management plan to become law without his signature.

The governor says Duke Energy needs to take action as soon as possible. It needs to take care of the coal ash that's in ponds across the state. But that doesn't mean the governor is happy with the plan.

"I am letting the bill become law without signing it because there are major deficiencies that need to be corrected," he said in a recorded statement.

McCrory says there are funding and logistical problems with the legislature's plan. What he emphasizes, though, is that coal ash management will be overseen by a commission appointed mostly by the Senate and the House of Representatives -- not by him.

"It is the legislators' duty to draft and pass laws, but not to execute them, which is the executive branch's authority," he added.

McCrory says he'll consult the Supreme Court on whether or not the bill is constitutional.

In response, Senate President Pro-Tem Phil Berger argued that the state constitution has given the General Assembly the right to make appointments to independent commissions.

"Keeping the commission separate from the agency that regulates coal ash is not only constitutional, it is a wise policy choice," he said.