As expected, the General Assembly overrode Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of House Bill 56. As Lisa Sorg explained last month, the new law contains a hodgepodge of cynical and politically-motivated anti-environmental protection provisions masquerading as the opposite.
“House Bill 56 is the junk drawer of environmental laws. Buried beneath the assorted mundane provisions are three that harm the environment and one that pretends to protect the public health.
• repealing the plastic bag ban on the Outer Banks;
• allowing law enforcement to cut back riparian buffers to supposedly root out crime;
• relaxing regulations on landfills;
• and, in a late and controversial addition, appropriating $185,000 to the Cape Fear River public utility and $250,000 to UNC Wilmington to address the GenX contamination in the river and drinking water supplies downstream. It also requires DEQ to issue a notice of violation to Chemours, the company responsible for discharging GenX and other contaminants into the river, by Sept. 8 or provide a report to lawmakers explaining why it hasn’t.”
As Chris Fitzsimon explained yesterday, this charade of a bill is made even worse by the underhanded way in which it was birthed and made law:
“But that’s what happens when it is about politics and ideology first, from secretly planned special sessions to gross distortion of the facts to convenient and situational born-again environmentalism.
Anything to win, to punish political opponents and deceive the people they are supposed to represent to mask the devastating effects of their ideological crusade.
That’s the House and Senate these days and why it’s so worrisome that they are coming back to town.”
Not surprisingly, the override was approved on almost exclusively partisan lines with Republicans voting “yes” and Democrats “no.” One happy exception to this rule, however, involved GOP Rep. Chuck McGrady of Henderson County. McGrady spoke and voted against the override and, in a discussion of language loosening regulation of solid waste disposal, used an extremely apt word to describe a “fact sheet” produced by the North Carolina Chamber defending the deregulation. As he debunked the contents of the Chamber document, McGrady called it “garbage.”
Good for McGrady. Too bad he and others didn’t loudly apply that description to the entire bill as it would have been completely accurate.