Race called for Cooper, retains AG position in N.C.

John O'Brien Nov. 4, 2008, 9:44pm


RALEIGH, N.C. (Legal Newsline) - The people of North Carolina have elected Roy Cooper to be their attorney general for a third time.

The democrat will defeat Republican Bob Crumley, The Associated Press reports. The AP called the race based on an analysis of voter interviews, conducted for the AP by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International.

With 50 percent of precincts reporting, Cooper led the challenger by 22 percentage points.

Cooper's most public moment came when he took over the prosecution of Duke University lacrosse players accused of rape. He dropped the case after taking over for Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong.

Recently, his public nuisance case against Tennessee Valley Authority, the largest public power provider in the country, went to trial in federal court.

A bench trial was held in July in the case, filed by Cooper and a group of private law firms. They claim the company's coal-fired power plants are polluting North Carolina's air.

Cooper claims pollution from 11 plants in Tennessee, Kentucky and Alabama are emitting large amounts of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and mercury into the air, and they are being carried to his state.

"TVA's pollutants harm human health, safety, comfort, the environment and the economy, including but not limited to natural resources in North Carolina," says the complaint, filed in Jan. 2006.

"TVA's pollutants also contribute to loss of revenue for the State and a substantial increase in expenditures for the State to combat and remedy the effects of the nuisance, as well as increased costs to the citizens of the State from increased hospital visits and other medical costs and from absence from work."

A federal judge ruled earlier this year that Cooper had the authority to bring the suit. Helping him craft it were Ayres Law Group of Washington, D.C., and Resolution Law Group.

Cooper blames TVA's smokestacks for more than 15,000 illnesses a year, adding it damages forests, lakes and streams.

Cooper wants TVA's emissions to be reduced to a level that would comply with North Carolina law -- the Clean Smokestacks Act, passed in 2002. That law reduced emissions in the state's 14 largest coal-fired power plants.

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at john@legalnewsline.com.

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