Editorial: Hot air in Raleigh of no help

Aug. 31, 2014 @ 11:40 PM

Gov. Pat McCrory, through a prepared statement Feb. 6, said his staff and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources provided a thorough and comprehensive response to the coal ash spill four days earlier in Rockingham County.

It was the third-largest in our nation’s history.

He also said, “We need to make sure this never happens again in North Carolina.”

Six months later, the governor and the General Assembly hailed the Coal Ash Management Act as the best law on coal ash in the nation. That spoke volumes, disappointingly, on other states. Our state gave a spineless, shameful bow to corporate America, namely McCrory’s former employer Duke Energy. Our state’s residents were sent a clear message about their environment and sources for drinking water.

The song and dance since Feb. 2 has been the worst reality show around. It never materialized as a top priority like we were told before the short session began, which was three months after the awful spill. Legitimate concerns always took a backseat to costs.

We’re still perplexed as to why the governor had to tell DENR to assess coal ash ponds and remove water from four leaking ponds. Ditto for Reps. Chuck McGrady, Ruth Samuelson and Rick Glazier going AWOL from conferees of the two chambers on the last day of July.

Rep. Thom Tillis, the House speaker and dueling with U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan for her Washington seat this fall, said our state was “moving more quickly to remediate coal ash problems than any other state by virtue of the actions we’ve already taken.” Just before the new law was hammered out, he said, “We just need to work on that in January.”

Doing it in August instead didn’t suddenly show it was a top priority.

Comprehensive response? Action? What basis for thought do we have that it won’t happen again in North Carolina?

The difference in six months is North Carolinians are more aware, not better protected. And for each of these branches of lawmakers, that’s not good enough.