For Immediate Release, June 27, 2019


Perrin de Jong, (828) 595-1862,

Petition Seeks Enforcement of Clean Air Act in North Carolina

State Has Failed For Years to Assess Permit for UNC’s Coal-fired Power Plant

CHAPEL HILL, N.C.— The Center for Biological Diversity petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency today to enforce Clean Air Act requirements for oversight of the University of North Carolina’s coal-fired power plant.

The petition seeks EPA enforcement of the Clean Air Act provision that requires the North Carolina Division of Air Quality to grant or deny an air permit application within 18 months.

The state agency has failed to act on a clean air permit filed nearly four years ago for the coal-burning power plant located on UNC’s Chapel Hill campus.

“By putting this permit application in the deep freeze, state officials have denied the public the opportunity to voice their concerns at a public hearing,” said Perrin de Jong, a staff attorney in the Center’s North Carolina office. “Even more troubling, this indefinite delay has prevented the public from determining whether UNC is complying with the Clean Air Act’s updated air pollution control standards.”

More than 180 requests for a public hearing on UNC’s air permit have been submitted to the state agency by members of the public. Agency officials say they have been considering whether to grant a public hearing since October 2018.

On May 20, 2019, a new pollution-control rule went into effect that limits emissions of brain damaging mercury, nose and throat irritating hydrochloric acid, and other dangerous air pollutants such as particulate matter and carbon monoxide from facilities like UNC’s coal plant.

Due to the delay in the review of UNC’s permit application, state officials have yet to approve modifications at UNC’s facility that are required to comply with the new pollution controls. As a result, the public has no way to determine if UNC has complied with the new rule.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.