by Joel Porter
North Carolina’s air got a little cleaner this week. Thanks to Clean Air Carolina’s advocacy, CPI Roxboro in Person County and CPI Southport in Brunswick County will cease operations after years of emissions violations. These two power plants burned waste (tires, train ties, etc.) and coal to generate energy, then turned around and called it renewable energy to claim credits from the state.
Clean Air Carolina, along with our partners from Sierra Club North Carolina and attorneys from the Southern Environmental Law Center, pushed the North Carolina Division of Air Quality (DAQ) to investigate Roxboro and Southport for failure to obtain proper air permits and excess pollution. Both power plants were found to be in violation, far exceeding their permitted emission levels of sulphur dioxide.
In 2020, CPI Roxboro and Southport were notified of their violations, fined, and instructed to adopt and install improved technologies to prevent excessive emissions. The company was also required to enter into Special Orders by Consent; these are essentially legally-binding agreements to fix permitting violations.
The company opted to close the plants on March 31, 2021. Reporting indicates that they now plan to start producing real renewable energy, by entering North Carolina’s booming solar energy industry. This is a major win for the health of these impacted communities and the environment.
We hope this is a turning point for this company, and that they can serve as an example of how businesses can change to help protect our health and the environment while achieving economic success.