Bill Summary for S 744 (2019-2020)

Summary date: 

May 14 2020

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2019-2020 Session
Senate Bill 744 (Public) Filed Thursday, May 14, 2020
AN ACT TO MAKE PERSONS CAUSING OR CONTRIBUTING TO CONTAMINATION RESPONSIBLE FOR COSTS OF CLEANUP AND PROVISION OF ALTERNATIVE WATER SUPPLIES TO PERSONS WITH WATER SUPPLIES AFFECTED BY SUCH CONTAMINATION AND TO PROHIBIT AN ELECTRIC PUBLIC UTILITY FROM RECOVERING COSTS RELATED TO THE MANAGEMENT OF COAL COMBUSTION ASH AND UNLAWFUL DISCHARGES FROM COAL ASH PONDS.
Intro. by Garrett, Marcus.

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Bill summary

Identical to S 651, filed 4/3/19.

Amends GS 143-215.3, which establishes the general and auxiliary powers of the Environmental Management Commission (Commission) and the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). Authorizes the Secretary of DEQ (Secretary) to order persons causing or contributing to water or air pollution that is causing danger to the health or safety of the public, revealed by an investigation pursuant to Article 21 (Water and Air Resources) or Article 21B (Air Pollution Control) of GS Chapter 143, to immediately reduce or discontinue the emission or discharge, or take other necessary measures or omissions, within a period of time specified at the discretion of the Secretary. Permits the Secretary to order the person to provide alternate water supplies or to establish a permanent replacement water supply to persons with water supplies damaged by the water or air pollution in question at the discretion of the Secretary. Specifies that the establishment of a permanent replacement water supply must be by connection to a public water supply, unless an affected household opts for a whole house filtration system that the responsible person will be required to install and maintain. Additionally, the Secretary is authorized to assess the person causing or contributing to the pollution in question for any actual and necessary costs incurred by the State in removing, correcting, or abating any adverse effects upon the water or air resulting from the pollution for which the person is responsible. Authorizes the Secretary to file a civil action in superior court in the county where the pollution in question occurred or where the person resides or has its principal place of business to recover sums assessed if a person refuses or fails to pay within a reasonable time. 

Amends GS 143-215.2, which authorizes the Commission to issue a special order or other instrument to any person responsible for causing or contributing to any pollution of state waters within an area for which standards have been adopted pursuant to GS 143-214.1 or GS 143-215. Adds to the Commission's authority to issue special orders by specifying that a special order can include a requirement that the responsible person provide temporary alternate or permanent replacement water supplies to persons with supplies damaged by the water pollution in question. 

Amends GS 62-133.13, adding a new provision prohibiting electric public utilities from recovering from the retail electric customers of the state costs incurred on or after January 1, 2014, that are related to the management of coal combustion residuals disposed of in coal combustion residuals surface impoundments, including costs associated with complying with the coal ash management provisions of Part 2I of Article 9 of GS Chapter 130A. Modifies existing language to now prohibit electric public utilities from recovering from the retail electric customers of the state costs incurred on or after January 1, 2014, that are related to an unlawful discharge to the surface waters of the state from a coal combustion residuals surface impoundment, unless the Commission determines the discharge was due to an event of force majure (currently, this provision is not limited to costs incurred on or after a certain date). Specifies that "costs related to unlawful discharges to the surface waters of the state" includes any corrective actions required of the electric public utility under state or federal law. Removes the provision providing that "unlawful discharge" is the discharge that results in a violation of state or federal surface water quality standards. Makes organizational changes. 

Appropriates $75,000 from the General Fund to DEQ to implement the act.

Exempts the act from the provisions of GS 143C-5-2, concerning the order of appropriations bills. 

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