N.C. fights TVA pollution yet OKs Duke coal plant?

From Ulla Reeves of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and June Blotnick of the Carolinas Clean Air Coalition:

Do as I say, not as I do. Those might as well be the words of the State of North Carolina to the Tennessee Valley Authority when it comes to air quality and power plant pollution.

Despite hearings this month between N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper and the Tennessee-based utility, Duke Energy has won state permission to build a coal-fired power plant at Cliffside in the N.C. foothills.

The question in court was whether TVA's air pollution from coal plants has created a public nuisance by fouling North Carolina's air. But the State of North Carolina is creating its own public nuisance by allowing the new coal plant. The hypocrisy of state government abounds.

The coal plant is already being challenged in court because construction began without proper mercury control analyses.

Duke Energy seems to have convinced state air quality officials that the coal unit will be clean. Actually, it will emit dangerous pollutants, including mercury, particulates, arsenic, dioxins and other heavy metals. Those pollutants can cause serious health problems such as cancer, heart disease, stroke and neurological damage, especially to women and unborn babies.

Cliffside would greatly contribute to global warming. Duke plans to use outdated technology that would not allow for carbon dioxide capture. Over its lifetime the plant would pump as much global warming pollution into the atmosphere as 54 million new cars on the road.

The lawsuit against TVA was a smart move on the state's part and is holding the federal behemoth accountable for years of running outdated facilities lacking proper controls to reduce air pollution.

Yet, the irony remains. We point the finger at our neighbors while fouling our own backyard. North Carolina must be consistent and say no to coal power – across the board.