Legal action against coal ash headlines 2016 RiverKeeper meeting

WINSTON-SALEM — The topic of coal ash ponds, and legal actions to protect North Carolina’s waters, will headline the Yadkin Riverkeeper’s upcoming 2016 Annual Meeting on Jan. 21, at Old Salem Museums & Gardens Gray Auditorium at 5:30 p.m. Featured speaker, Senior Attorney Frank Holleman, was recently featured on CBS’ 60 Minutes as the leader of the legal work at the Southeastern Environmental Law Center (SELC) and is now representing citizen groups in all pending coal ash enforcement actions across the state.

In North Carolina, the quest to clean up over 100 million of tons of toxic ash stored at 14 Duke Energy plants began with legal action to enforce North Carolina’s groundwater laws and to clean up Duke facilities near Asheville, Charlotte, and Wilmington. The action forced the State to undertake statewide enforcement actions against the utility. After a spill at a Duke plant on the banks of the Dan River in early 2014, the company agreed to clean up all three of these facilities—along with Dan River. SELC ‘s pending coal ash enforcement are aimed at giving citizens the same rights as Duke Energy and the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources. These enforcement actions brought Duke Energy’s illegal pollution to light, and now a federal criminal grand jury is investigating the coal ash activities of the company and the state agency that is supposed to regulate it. Within the past months, SELC has taken the coal ash campaign to Virginia and Tennessee.

Holleman received his Bachelor of Arts from Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina. He graduated from Harvard Law School and served as a law clerk for Judge Harrison Lee Winter of the Fourth Circuit and Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun. He then worked as a partner at Wyche, Burgess, Freeman and Parham in Greenville, South Carolina. In 1994, he was appointed by President Bill Clinton to serve in the Justice Department as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General,and later served as Chief of Staff for Secretary of Education Richard Riley. In 1999, Clinton recess appointed Holleman to serve as Deputy Secretary of Education, a post which he held until the end of the Clinton presidency. Today, Holleman is a Senior Attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center, where he has led the effort to litigate against power utilities over the disposal of coal ash.

The Annual Meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. with a reception. The presentation is at 6 p.m. Old Salem is located at 600 S. Main St., Winston-Salem, NC 27101. Contact Yadkin Riverkeeper at 336-722-4949.

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