September 28, 2017/Press

ICYMI Star News: GenX partisanship descends to county level

Star News: GenX partisanship descends to county level
By the Editorial Board
September 28, 2017

One day after a StarNews editorial expressed our disappointment at the role politics in Raleigh is playing in the responses to the GenX issue, the New Hanover County commissioners entered the partisan fray with a pair of dueling press releases.

On Monday, the Republican majority on the county board called on the GOP-dominated legislature to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of House Bill 56, which would have provided $435,000 to local organizations for GenX research but ignored the Cooper administration’s request for $2.6 million to bolster the agencies that monitor water quality across the state.

The two Democratic commissioners replied a few hours later with a statement saying H.B. 56 doesn’t do enough to protect drinking water. We agree.

So New Hanover County’s response to the problem of polluted drinking water becomes yet another example of officials putting party loyalty over their obligation to work for all of the people.

We’re happy that the bill would provide money for Cape Fear Public Utility Authority and the University of North Carolina Wilmington to research our drinking water issues.

But GenX isn’t the only pollutant in the water, and the Wilmington area isn’t the only area where drinking water may contain hazardous contaminants.

GenX has been found in private wells around the Chemours plant that was, until this summer, dumping GenX into the Cape Fear River.

And the state has been unable to pinpoint the origin of carcinogenic 1,4-dioxane in the Cape Fear. It may be coming from the Greensboro area.

Elsewhere in the state, contaminants have been found in wells near coal ash plants. And North Carolina sites have joined Flint, Michigan, in having unsafe levels of lead in the drinking water.

Commissioners Chairman Woody White says he’s not opposed to the Democratic governor’s request of $2.6 million for additional water quality regulators.

Good for him, but that’s not what his party’s statement said.

We appreciate funds for local research on GenX. But safe drinking water is a statewide issue that demands a statewide response.

It’s disheartening that the Republican supermajorities in the N.C. House and Senate won’t provide funds needed by the Department of Environmental Quality to ensure drinking water is safe across the state, and that they’ve frozen out of the conversation a Democrat from New Hanover County – Rep. Deb Butler — who wants a seat at the table.

And it’s doubly disheartening to see our county commissioners duly lining up with their super-partisan supermajorities on the state level.

Read the full editorial here.