Editorial: Enforcement agency shirks its duty

Apr. 13, 2014 @ 01:44 AM

Imagine a police chief insisting his officers don’t have the authority to stop a robbery while it is going on.

Or a health inspector saying that the presence of live rats on a food counter doesn’t mean he can close that restaurant.

That essentially is the position being taken by the state Environmental Management Commission, which filed papers in court on Monday saying that a judge was wrong to say that the agency has the authority to require Duke Energy to immediately stop pollution at its coal ash ponds, like the one that recently polluted the Dan River.

A Wake Superior Court judge ruled on March 6 that the EMC could order a halt to the pollution, and the EMC has come back and said, “No we can’t.”

This isn’t a case of bloated bureaucracy and layers of regulation that serve only to increase business costs. It’s a case of known and ongoing pollution that only gets worse every day it continues. That the state of North Carolina insists it is powerless to do anything about it is astounding.