N. C. Environmental Defense Praises Clean Smokestacks Bill

September 4, 2001
North Carolina Environmental Defense today praised members of the N.C. General Assembly for reaching a compromise on the N.C. Clean Smokestacks Bill, legislation that will require utility companies to protect public health and the environment by reducing harmful emissions from the state’s 14 coal-fired power plants. Revisions to the proposed bill, which had been stalled in the House Utilities Committee, were announced today by the bill’s sponsors, Sen. Steve Metcalf and Rep. Martin Nesbitt. These revisions cut the costs of action by about 50% for businesses and families, while still achieving significant reductions in smokestack emissions.

“The revised bill is a balanced, fair solution to North Carolina’s worsening air pollution problem,” said Michael Shore, Southeast air quality manager for North Carolina Environmental Defense. “Senator Metcalf, Representative Nesbitt, and Governor Mike Easley deserve credit for their leadership in cleaning up North Carolina’s dirty air. Now the House of Representatives must act responsibly and give the Clean Smokestacks Bill its full vote of confidence.”

“The broad coalition of organizations working to pass the Clean Smokestacks Bill include health, tourism, energy generating utilities, environmentalists, fish farmers, and many local governments,” said Shore. “But manufacturers and their powerful lobbyists are fighting the bill.”

The bill is based on the N.C. Clean Smokestacks Plan that was developed by a statewide environmental coalition. The bill will require emission cuts in year-round nitrogen oxides by 72% and sulfur dioxide by 73% from 1998 levels. Controlling these pollutants will also substantially reduce toxic mercury emissions. The reductions will occur over the next 12 years.