It can be costly to go to court.
While some lawyers, admirably, work pro bono cases, in general the higher up the societal food chain you go – cases that delve into the world of powerful interest groups, the uber-wealthy and well-heeled corporations – the higher your legal fees.
But there’s always the assumption you can have your day in court.
That assumption has received a jarring wakeup call in North Carolina in a case revolving around Duke Energy’s plans to rebuild its Lake Julian power plant.
In 2015 the General Assembly passed a special law under which Duke can avoid spending $100 million to change how it handles coal ash if it gets the new plant, which will switch from burning coal to natural gas, online by 2020.
Environmental groups who think the plant is larger than necessary were pressing for more consideration of alternatives to the plant such as other power sources, renewable energy and energy efficiency measures.
The Climate Times, based in Watauga County, and Durham-based NC WARN brought a case seeking to overturn the NC Utilities Commission’s approval of Duke’s plans.
In May the Utilities Commission ruled the environmental groups would be on the hook for $10 million to continue their case.