Court should assert authority, not allow regulators’ $98 million bond to block access to court
Statement by NC WARN executive director Jim Warren:
Durham, NC – Today, attorneys for NC WARN and The Climate Times again urged the NC Court of Appeals to take charge of a convoluted case involving an unneeded $1 billion power plant, and to not allow state regulators to block our access to the court. Most recently in this nine-month legal fight, the NC Utilities Commission ruled that we cannot appeal its approval of Duke Energy’s Asheville plant because we didn’t post the $98 million bond the commissioners said we must file in order to go to court.
Surely the Appeals Court won’t cede its authority by allowing the Commission to have the last word. No other state allows its regulators to invoke a bond to block a power plant appeal. The Commission’s actions are unconstitutional. We’re urging the court to require that this unprecedented case gets the open airing – with expert witnesses fully heard and cross-examination of Duke Officials – that’s required by law.
In a separate lawsuit filed last week against the State of North Carolina and the utility regulators by the Duke Environmental Law & Policy Clinic, NC WARN is asking a NC Superior Court panel to deem unconstitutional the two laws allowing shortcut approvals and court-blocking bonds in power plant cases. That suit is intended to prevent Duke Energy from using similar, unconstitutional processes for the 15-20 unneeded, climate-busting, fracked-gas plants it plans to build in the Carolinas by 2030.
Both cases could wind up at the NC Supreme Court.
Duke Energy is among several utilities seeking a huge increase in the burning of fracked gas. That’s despite burgeoning evidence that gas supplies are far lower than industry projections, and as concerns mount that the natural gas industry has become the leading driver of US greenhouse emissions due to super-potent methane spewing into the air from equipment throughout the system.