Sun August 18, 2013
N.C. Files More Suits Over Coal-Ash Runoff
The state of North Carolina has filed more lawsuits against Duke Energy seeking to force the utility to clean up water pollution from coal ash at 12 power plants. The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources filed two lawsuits Friday in Wake and Mecklenburg counties. Those suits expand the state's litigation to all 14 of North Carolina's coal-fired plants. Water tests at the 12 sites covered in the new suits showed chemical levels above what’s considered safe. State inspectors also have seen seeping liquid that’s not allowed under Duke’s permits. Duke Energy spokeswoman Erin says the lawsuits don't indicate that water quality has changed dramatically over decades of the plants' operation. She says seven of North Carolina's coal plants will close by year's end, and that will ultimately resolve many questions. LAWMAKERS READY TO DEFEND LEGISLATION IN COURT North Carolina's Republican-led General Assembly passed plenty of bills this year that lawmakers knew would be challenged in court. In a last-minute move, legislators are giving their leaders the authority to defend the laws in court, in case the state won’t. Before adjourning last month, lawmakers inserted two sentences into unrelated hospital billing legislation that would give state House and Senate leaders the option to defend a state statute or a provision of North Carolina's constitution. That means lawmakers wouldn't have to rely on Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democrat. Republican Governor Pat has until Aug. 25 to veto the measure. Cooper hasn't refused to defend the state in any case, though his counterparts in California, Illinois, and Pennsylvania said they would not defend their states' same-sex marriage bans. MORAL MONDAY PROTEST COMES TO CHARLOTTE Among those speaking out about the recent North Carolina legislative session are leaders at the North Carolina NAACP and organizers of the so-called Moral Mondays protests at the legislature. Tomorrow, they’ll take their campaign beyond Raleigh, with protests planned in Charlotte, Burnsville in the North Carolina Mountains, and Manteo at the Coast. Speakers at the three afternoon rallies are expected to raise concerns over bills on voting rights and abortion, and those that affect the environment and workers. The Charlotte rally begins at 5 o’clock at Marshall Park. [Tune in to Charlotte Talks Monday morning at 9 on WFAE where we’ll meet a key leader of the Moral Monday protests and hear what organizers hope to achieve by bringing the protest movement to Charlotte.] BUS MAKER DESIGNLINE FILES CHAPTER 11 Hybrid and electric bus maker DesignLine has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The company where former Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx once worked before becoming US Transportation Secretary has been in financial trouble this year. Federal Court documents show it has assets of $14 million and debts of $37.5 million. The company's largest creditor is New Jersey Transit, which paid $3.6 million for buses it hasn't received. The company employed about 250 people here earlier this year, but recently had suspended operations and furloughed workers. DesignLine was founded in New Zealand but moved its headquarters to Charlotte in 2006. POLICE CRACK DOWN ON DWI Police took to highways across North Carolina this weekend as part of a state campaign to catch drunken drivers. The state Department of Transportation says the Labor Day "Booze It & Lose It" runs through Sept. 2. New public service announcements are running on television and social media. The DOT says there were nearly 11,000 alcohol-related crashes in North Carolina last year. More than half involved drivers between 18 and 34 years old. PARENTS OF MISSING TEEN IN CUSTODY FIGHT The parents of a missing Salisbury teenager will go to court over the custody of their youngest children. The Rowan County Sheriff's Office says Sandy and Casey Parsons are being summoned to juvenile court by the Department of Social Services. The family’s lawyer says the dispute involves the Parsons' two youngest children. The kids were temporarily placed with their maternal grandmother after their 20-year-old brother filed a missing persons report two weeks ago for Erica Parsons. Erica was 13 when she was last seen by anyone outside the family in 2011. The Parsons have said that's when their adopted daughter went to live with her biological grandmother in Asheville, but authorities say that hasn't checked out. Investigators seized items from the Parsons' home after issuing a search warrant Wednesday.