- Associated Press - Monday, September 28, 2015

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - A North Carolina judge is giving state environmental regulators 30 days to decide on a water quality clearance crucial to Alcoa Inc. getting a new federal license of up to 50 years to operate hydropower dams on the Yadkin River.

Superior Court Judge Bryan Collins ruled last week that Gov. Pat McCrory’s aides in 2013 pressured the Department of Environment and Natural Resources against approving the certification just days before that was likely to happen.

His decision upholds an earlier ruling by an administrative law judge. She ruled DENR acted arbitrarily when Alcoa’s certificate was denied the same day the McCrory administration sued the company over riverbed ownership. A federal judge is deciding whether to dismiss that lawsuit.

A spokeswoman would not say whether the state planned to appeal.

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