Raleigh – In a shameless move, the unconstitutionally-elected Republican caucus slipped in at the 11th hour changes to a bill that would tie a small amount of funding for GenX, a serious public health issue, to repealing the coastal plastic bag ban, an unpopular, far-right issue.
This is a shocking move for three main reasons:
- The NC GOP is playing politics with people’s health by tying money for a serious public health issue to an unpopular, far-right, anti-environment pet issue.
GenX is a serious public health issue that deserves a serious response from the General Assembly. This bill is the exact opposite, and makes addressing a pressing public health issue contingent on passing a far-right pet issue. Cleaning up our water systems and bringing relief to Cape Fear-area citizens should not rest on repealing a wildly popular, highly effective environmental law.
- $435,000 is a drop in the bucket compared to what is needed.
Governor Cooper requested $2.6 million to adequately address this issue, and the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) outlined in detail how the funds would be allocated.
Since 2010, DEQ has seen drastic cuts to its budget that have shrunk its staff by more than half and kneecapped its ability to fight environmental issues like GenX; this year’s budget alone cut about $1.8 million from DEQ.
- Before money is given to local utilities to study GenX, NCGA needs to fund Governor Cooper’s request for additional DEQ and DHHS funding. But NC GOP would rather ding Governor Cooper and DEQ than honestly address this issue.
The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) failed to alert the public about Gen X in their water treatment system, only doing so after public outcry. At a recent ERC hearing in Wilmington, residents overwhelmingly said they would rather the General Assembly fund Gov. Cooper’s proposal than give funding for GenX to CFPUA. The GOP is not giving CFPUA money because they’re best suited to handle the issue – they’re doing it because DEQ is part of the Executive Branch.
“The GOP is playing politics with people’s health, and are so bent on undermining Governor Cooper that they’re willing to threaten public safety,” NCDP Executive Director Kimberly Reynolds said. “People deserve clean drinking water, regardless of politics. The GOP should be ashamed for even trotting out something so nakedly political on an issue of this importance.”