Cliffside air quality permit contested at Forest City Hearing

January 20, 2009 at 7:11 pm 2 comments

Inside the auditorium there were maybe 200 of “them” and maybe 20 of “us”. Virtually all of “them” either worked for Duke, for Shaw Construction, or were local chamber or economic “development” types and politicians who read three versions of the same talking points over and over.

N.C. Division of Air Quality held a hearing tonight on a proposed air quality permit revision for the new coal-fired boiler (unit 6) that Duke Energy is building at its Cliffside plant in Rutherford County.Duke is asking the agency to revise its permit to classify the 800-megawatt addition as a “minor” source of hazardous air pollutants and set limits based on those emissions.

The proposed revisions and hearing are a partial response to a recent court decision that directed Duke to undergo a review to ensure it was using the best-available clean air technology at its Cliffside Steam Station. Facilities that are a minor source of pollution do not have to go through a review to ensure it is using the maximum achievable technology to control emissions.

The issue is far from cut and dry. Many local residence were far more interested in the 1,600 temporary jobs the plants construction will bring about. Apparently the moving testimonies and facts that concerned citizens, legal representatives, scientists, and professional environmental organizations did little to stifle the opinions of Duke employees as they have been fed a series of “magic numbers” by Duke Power that the new unit will remove virtually 90% of all pollutants and will even be….get this…..Carbon Free (for your non-science types coal is carbon). Duke created their new series of numbers after the unit was going to be classified as a “Major source of hazardous pollution”. Without changing 1 single thing to the design or technology of the unit Duke reduced the numbers of toxins/pollutants, emissions, and impact of the unit. The N.C. Division of air quality took those numbers and ran with Duke’s new numbers.

Duke Energy holds the power and they have their people firmly in their pockets, but the fact remains that they are severely lying about the impact of this unit and people need to realize that its not what Duke can do for them in the short term, but what they need to be doing to lead the way in a better future for North Carolina: Cleaning up their act, Creating a Green Jobs infrastructure, and putting peoples health before profit and shortcuts!

You can hear Jill Rios of interfaith power and light give her press statement and Russ Anderson give his testimony at

You can also read more about the efforts here:


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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Anna  |  January 31, 2009 at 11:15 pm

    The thing that Duke doesn’t tell the local residents is that only a fraction of those 1,600 new jobs will actually be filled by people in the immediate community, let alone Rutherford County. I live about 20 minutes away from Cliffside, so I hear about the issue often.

  • 2. Brian  |  May 18, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    The previous commenter is accurate. The 1600 jobs are temporary, and most likely would be experienced workers brought in, not local people seeking employment! Just last week I saw someone posting on Craigslist seeking to move into the area and searching for a place to live because they would be heading part of the Cliffside project.

    I dont think the locals realize this new unit doesn’t necessarily mean new jobs for them.


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