WILMINGTON, NC -- On Monday, September 23, Judge Beecher Gray signed a decision granting summary judgment in favor of Titan America and the NC Division of Air Quality (DAQ) and against the petitioners - NC Coastal Federation, Cape Fear River Watch, Pender Watch and Conservancy Sierra Club. The summary judgment states that DAQ did not “substantially prejudice the petitioners’ rights” by issuing Carolinas Cement Company LLC an air permit in February 2011 for a proposed cement plant in Castle Hayne, NC. The petitioners had alleged that DAQ “substantially prejudiced petitioners’ rights and exceeded its authority” in issuing Titan America its air permit. The summary judgment motions by all parties were brought before Judge Gray on August 7, 2013.
Carolinas Cement’s air permit from DAQ was issued after four years and two rounds of extensive technical reviews.
“The state’s handling of the air permitting process was comprehensive, transparent and exhaustive in its attention to detail,” said Bob Odom, General Manager of Carolinas Cement Company. “It may well be the most carefully examined permit application ever issued by North Carolina. We commend Judge Gray for his ruling and the State for all of the hard work they have put into this process. Carolinas Cement will have the most advanced combination of pollution controls of any cement plant in the world. We look forward to moving beyond this lawsuit so we can bring much-needed, good jobs to New Hanover County.”
Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) filed the lawsuit against DAQ on behalf of the petitioners on April 27, 2012. Prehearing statements were filed on June 6, 2012 and both sides engaged in extensive discovery, which included the exchange of thousands of documents, dozens of interrogatories and requests for admission, and the depositions of six witnesses, including SELC’s expert witnesses.
Judge Gray’s decision will not be finalized until it is reviewed by the NC Environmental Management Commission. Each party in this case can file exceptions to Judge Gray’s summary judgment and present written arguments to the Commission. The Environmental Management Commission is a 15-member Commission appointed by the Governor, the Senate Pro Tempore and the Speaker of the House. The Commission is responsible for adopting rules for the protection, preservation and enhancement of the state's air and water resources.