Recent editorials from North Carolina newspapers:


May 19

The Fayetteville Observer says bills filed over GenX and other related chemicals contaminating Cape Fear River are welcome, but their timing looks political:

It’s been nearly a year since we learned about the GenX and other related chemicals that have contaminated the Cape Fear River and the water supplies that serve hundreds of thousands of people.

Since then, we have gotten wave after wave of continuing and escalating bad news. The chemicals, part of the waste stream from the Chemours plant south of Fayetteville, have contaminated far more than just the river. Hundreds of private wells have been polluted, as have several public wells. The contamination is airborne too - tons of GenX and related chemicals pumped into the air around the plant and then scattered by the winds onto land and water. It’s even in the rain.

The chemicals cause serious health problems, including cancer, in animals. It’s reasonable to expect that they have the same effect on people. Underfunded and overburdened state regulators have struggled to keep up with the growing threat and we still have no studies showing whether or not there are patterns of health problems in the population that’s been exposed to the chemicals - in some cases for generations.

Until now, state lawmakers have been unable to agree on the simplest of strategies - to increase funding for the state departments of Environmental Quality and Health and Human Services, the two agencies with statutory responsibility to protect human health and the environment.

Fortunately, both Democratic and Republican legislators have now filed bills in both the House and Senate that respond in some meaningful way to the crisis. Similar efforts during a brief January session of the General Assembly collapsed when Senate leaders refused to act. Fortunately, this is an election year and some of our politicians are smart enough to recognize that GenX could be politically toxic for them if they don’t act - or at least appear to....

The Republican-backed bills - the ones more likely to be enacted, given the party’s veto-proof grip on both legislative chambers - are a considerable improvement, requiring Chemours to provide an alternate permanent water supply for homes served by contaminated private wells and providing $2 million in grant funding to help county governments extend public water mains to affected households. They also would fund a mass spectrometer for analyzing pollution samples and money to hire additional DEQ staff for water monitoring and to address the agency’s permitting backlog. It adds $8 million for university research on GenX and other emerging contaminants. It also would empower the governor to order Chemours to shut down if it doesn’t stop further unauthorized discharges.Environmental groups are suspicious of that provision and call it a political ruse. The legislation, says Southern Environmental Law Center state Director Derb Carter, “imposes multiple requirements on the governor before he can order a facility that

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