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All quiet on the Richmond front

December 19, 2013

The state of North Carolina has gone to court to prevent entities such as the Tennessee Valley Authority from unlawfully polluting North Carolina air.


Now, the state has a chance to address another potential increase in air pollution as the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources Division of Air Quality considers a permit application from Duke Energy to emit higher levels of air pollution to allow the plant to operate to its full capacity at the utility’s electric power generating facility near Hamlet.


The plant currently operates under a regular permit; the desired production levels require a Title V permit, which bring additional record-keeping and reporting requirements.


So far, little has been said about the issue and by very few people. Only the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, based in Glendale Springs, submitted comment on the project during the first public comment period that ended Sept. 9.


Donald R. van der Varrt, the N.C. DAQ’s environmental program manager, said in a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that this project would result in significant increases in the emissions of toxins such as nitrogen dioxide.


Lisa Hoffman, of the Duke Energy Progress media relations team, has told The Daily Journal that this is merely a stepping stone —a natural part of the process to build, operate and expand such a plant.


She also argues that natural gas-generated power is cleaner than coal- or fuel oil-powered plants.


What’s right? We’re not sure, but it seems apparent — based on the lack of public comment submitted to state agencies or the turnout Tuesday at an informational session in Hamlet — that very few Richmond County residents are concerned about the issue.


On that note, something doesn’t feel right at all.


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