On June 25, Duke Energy announced plans to excavate and close 12 additional coal ash ponds across the state.

Duke Energy’s announcement does not impact its Asheville site, where all the ash is already mandated to be moved, but it does include excavation of one of the three coal ash ponds at the Cliffside power plant in Rutherford County. We know that all three ponds are leaching contaminants into the groundwater and the river so, while it is a step forward that Duke is committing to excavate ash in one of those ponds, we believe they can and should do better. They have not yet decided what to do with the coal ash in the other ponds, nor has the state mandated a cleanup strategy there.

With this announcement, Duke has now committed to excavate coal ash at 7 of 14 sites (20 of 32 ash ponds) in NC. Again, while this is a good step, seven communities across the state still don’t know the extent to which they will be protected from ongoing coal ash contamination going forward. We will press on with our litigation in the Cliffside case until we reach a resolution that will protect the people of that region and the Broad River.

Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.