In his attempt to undermine a deal brokered among the court, state and Chemours, Francis X. De Luca offered the Environmental Management Commission some weak legal sauce.
De Luca, president of the conservative think tank Civitas, asked the EMC today to issue a declaratory ruling that ultimately could have voided a partial consent order between Chemours and the NC Department of Environmental Quality over GenX contamination in the Cape Fear River.
But the EMC voted unanimously that it would not meddle in an issue that, its members agreed, was outside their purview. “I don’t see our value in adding to that,” said Richard Whisnant, EMC member and former DEQ general counsel.
De Luca had argued that he had been denied the right to comment on the state’s deal with Chemours. Under that partial consent order, approved by a Bladen County Superior Court judge, DEQ agreed not to seek damages from Chemours as long as the company stopped discharging GenX and other perfluorinated compounds.
The consent order also requires Chemours to allow the EPA to turn over confidential information about these chemicals to DEQ, and to quickly provide the state with information, as requested.
De Luca was also upset that the consent order foiled his ability to pursue a citizen lawsuit against DEQ. He alleged that the order “appears to be a conspiracy between DEQ and Chemours specifically designed” to deny him a hearing in federal court.
Whisnant and other EMC members agreed that De Luca could still ask the court to designate him as an intervenor in the case. Otherwise, though, such an EMC decision could set a bad precedent.
“I dread the idea that anyone could file a petition who disagrees with a DEQ enforcement action,” Whisnant said. “That risks swamping the EMC’s time.”