RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Environmentalists are challenging in court a surprise deal in which North Carolina regulators settle decades of suspected groundwater pollution at Duke Energy's coal ash pits for $7 million.
A state Superior Court judge is scheduled to hear arguments Friday as opponents seek to overturn the deal between Gov. Pat McCrory's former employer and the state Department of Environmental Quality.
The deal cut the $25 million fine over groundwater pollution at a Wilmington plant that regulators had promoted as the largest penalty for environmental damage in state history. The agreement also claimed to settle groundwater pollution claims at not one, but all 14 power plants storing coal ash.
Duke Energy and environmental regulators pointed to a 2011 policy that favored correcting groundwater problems over fines as prompting the settlement.