Half the coal burned by Progress Energy's and Duke Energy's power plants would become illegal in North Carolina under legislation proposed Tuesday by state Rep. Pricey Harrison.
The Guilford County Democrat wants to outlaw importation of coal that has been extracted by a controversial form of strip mining known as mountaintop removal. The process involves blowing up several hundred feet of mountaintop to expose embedded veins of coal.
The state's power companies say Harrison's proposal would force utilities to buy more expensive coal and raise the cost of electricity for consumers. Coal mined from mountaintops is the cheapest coal available to Raleigh-based Progress and Charlotte-based Duke. North Carolina relies on coal for about 60 percent of its electricity.
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