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Gov. McCrory denies Duke coal ash deal involvement

By The Associated Press

This article was published February 15, 2014 at 3:59 p.m.

RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory denied Friday he had any talks with Duke Energy executives or lobbyists about his administration's scuttled deal to settle environmental violations at two of the $50 billion company's coal ash dumps for $99,000.

McCrory was asked about the agreement at a public event after his office had not responded to questions from The Associated Press.

Federal prosecutors on Monday served the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources and Duke with grand jury subpoenas demanding records as part of a federal investigation into the spill, which contaminated the river so badly the state has advised against prolonged contact with the water or eating fish.

"I have had no conversations with Duke Energy about the lawsuits or about the federal action," McCrory said.

Lawyers for the state environmental agency pulled the deal from consideration after last week's massive coal ash spill into the Dan River. Environmentalists opposed the proposed agreement, which they described as a sweetheart deal that would have done nothing to require the nation's largest electricity provider to clean up its toxic dumps.

McCrory worked at Duke 28 years before retiring to make his first run for governor in 2008. In that time, campaign finance reports show Duke Energy, its political action committee, executives and their immediate families have donated at least $1.1 million to McCrory's campaign and affiliated groups that spent on TV ads, mailings and events to support him.

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