Commentary

Editorials laud Cooper’s action against GenX pollution

Two of the major newspapers in the region impacted by the GenX water pollution mess in the Cape Fear River are praising Governor Cooper for his latest action attacking the problem.

Here’s the Wilmington StarNews in an editorial entitled “Cooper brings needed firepower to GenX response”:

“A sign displayed at the governor’s appearance at the New Hanover County Government Complex read, ‘Super Cooper to the Rescue.’ Cooper certainly has no ‘superhero’ political powers. But he does — more than anyone else in the state — have the administrative power and the responsibility to protect the quarter of a million North Carolinians affected by GenX.

The presence of GenX in the water supply has united local leaders more than any issue we can recall. But as local leaders have made clear, they need help from Raleigh, including the departments the governor ultimately oversees.

The most important point Cooper made is simple — Chemours Co. currently needs a new permit to discharge water into the Cape Fear; any new permit must explicitly ban the discharge of GenX….

With Gov. Cooper now clearly engaged with this issue, we hope answers to the many critical questions we all have are more forthcoming.”

Meanwhile, this is from a new Fayetteville Observer editorial entitled “A big boost for safer water” in which it praises Cooper for announcing “several significant developments in reaction to the chemical discharge” — including involving state law enforcement officials,  the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the federal EPA, directing his Department of Environmental Quality to deny Chemours’ request for a permit to discharge any amount of GenX into the river, and requiring companies to disclose more information about the unregulated chemicals like GenX that they release into the environment:

“We’re especially pleased to see that Cooper and his cabinet recognize that this isn’t just a single problem limited to discharge from one chemical plant on one of the state’s rivers. As state regulators well know, the Cape Fear alone has other pollution problems, including the long-term release of the cancer-causing chemical 1,4-dioxane from somewhere in the Triad. That carcinogen is entering the water supply of every community that draws its water from the Cape Fear and Haw basins, from Greensboro down to Wilmington.

‘I think this is something that is not just a Cape Fear issue,’ Cooper said Monday. ‘This is a statewide issue and we must address it.’

We hope lawmakers, whose leaders are often at odds with Cooper, will see this as a nonpartisan issue, and a no-brainer. Keeping our water clean and safe is as basic a government function as there is. Keeping cancer-causing compounds out of our water supply has to be a core mission for our regulators and our public-health initiatives. Anything less is dangerously irresponsible.”

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