Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Duke to retire old coal burners in return for new ones; landmark deal still doesn't please critics

North Carolina yesterday "became the first state to force a utility to retire old power plants to offset the carbon emissions of a new one," requiring Duke Energy to retire old coal-burning units in return for approval of new, more modern units at Cliffside on the Catwaba River, reports The Charlotte Observer. (Encarta map)

Bruce Henderson writes that the deal between Duke and the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources marks the start of a new era in North Carolina: "controlling the planet-warming carbon dioxide that coal plants pump out by the millions of tons a year." Opponents of the permit application, however, criticized the action.

"The Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation said it will fight the plant," Henderson reports. "The Carolinas Clean Air Coalition vowed the permit 'will not go unchallenged.' Duke says it will start construction immediately," but opponents have 60 days to take action blocking the permit. Henderson adds: "The state still hasn't made Duke assess the impact of Cliffside's nitrogen and sulfur releases on wilderness areas such as Great Smoky Mountains National Park, north of Cliffside, said Gudrun Thompson of the Southern Environmental Law Center. The National Park Service has predicted 'severe impacts' to the Smokies." (Read more)

UPDATE, March 20: An appeal was filed by the N.C. Waste Awareness & Reduction Network. (Read more)

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