Northam signs coal ash cleanup bill

Ralph Northam_1553179469120

STERLING, VA – NOVEMBER 03: Virginia Democratic candidate for governor, Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, campaigns at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society following Friday prayers November 3, 2017 in Sterling, Virginia. Virginia will elect the next governor of the state next Tuesday, November 7. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has signed legislation to require the state’s largest electric utility to excavate and clean up unlined coal ash pits.

Northam announced Wednesday that he’d approved bills that require Dominion Energy to recycle or store in lined landfills 27 million cubic yards of coal ash currently located at sites around the state.

The Democratic governor and a bipartisan group of lawmakers announced a compromise on the issue earlier this year.

Dominion said it also supported the plan. The company had argued for years that leaving coal ash in unlined pits was safe and the best alternative.

Coal ash is waste left from burning the fossil fuel to produce electricity.

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