The Latest: Judge wants to review Duke Energy pollution deal

AP News
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Posted: Feb 12, 2016 5:27 PM

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The Latest on a judge reviewing a $7 million settlement over groundwater pollution at one coal-burning power plant that was expanded to end disputes at all 14 Duke Energy sites in North Carolina (all times local):

5:20 p.m.

A North Carolina judge wants to review a surprise deal over groundwater pollution at Duke Energy's coal ash pits because he questions the motives behind the company's settlement with Gov. Pat McCrory's environmental regulators.

Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway said Friday the settlement went too far by seeming to close lawsuits involving environmental groups over groundwater pollution at other Duke Energy ash pits.

The settlement cut the $25 million fine at a Wilmington plant that regulators said would have been the largest environmental penalty in state history to $7 million. The agreement also expanded to settle pollution claims at not one, but all 14 power plants storing coal ash.

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4:50 a.m.

Environmentalists are challenging in court a surprise deal in which North Carolina regulators settle decades of suspected groundwater pollution at Duke Energy's coal ash pits for $7 million.

A state Superior Court judge is scheduled to hear arguments Friday as opponents seek to overturn the deal between Gov. Pat McCrory's former employer and the state Department of Environmental Quality.

The deal cut the $25 million fine over groundwater pollution at a Wilmington plant that regulators had promoted as the largest penalty for environmental damage in state history. The agreement also claimed to settle groundwater pollution claims at not one, but all 14 power plants storing coal ash.

Duke Energy and environmental regulators pointed to a 2011 policy that favored correcting groundwater problems over fines as prompting the settlement.