- The Progressive Pulse - http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org -

The best editorial of the weekend: State Senate guilty of “felony-level fraud”

The Fayetteville Observer let loose with some real, on-the-mark haymakers this weekend in a scathing takedown of last week’s inadequate effort by North Carolina Senate leaders to respond to the GenX water pollution crisis. This is from “Senate GenX response is a dangerous fraud” [1]:

“At first we thought we were witnessing a miracle. Imagine: N.C. Senate leader Phil Berger, barely a month after refusing to consider a bipartisan, unanimously passed House bill funding a stepped-up response to GenX pollution, turns around and pushes a Senate version of the bill that allocates even more money to the project. A stunning turnabout for the state’s champion of deregulating just about everything.

And then we looked at what’s in the bill. Turns out it’s felony-level fraud. It’s also yet another assault on the state Department of Environmental Quality and a plan to further abdicate responsibility for the health and safety of the North Carolina residents who get their drinking water from the Cape Fear River or from wells in polluted countryside around the Chemours plant on the Cumberland-Bladen county line.”

After noting that the Senate bill basically told DEQ officials to get lost on key aspects of responding to the crisis (by, for instance, failing to fund adequate equipment to test for GenX and other emerging contaminants, pushing a bunch of cash to a crony of Senate leader Phil Berger who spent years fighting environmental protection before being been installed at UNC-Chapel Hill and making the money that is in the bill a “one-time” expenditure), the editorial concludes this way:

“And then the grand frosting on the cake: In the next fiscal year, the Senate wants to cut another $1 million out of the DEQ’s already inadequate budget.

This constitutes political fraud on a grand scale and is the most blatant statement we’ve yet seen from the Senate and its powerful leader that they have no real interest in protecting the health and safety of their constituents. The Senate GenX bill makes it clear that Berger and the rest of his Senate leadership are out to protect the interests of big business — and big contributors — and that they really don’t see any problem with the dumping of dangerous wastes into rivers, streams and groundwater that are the source of drinking water for millions of North Carolina residents.

For decades, this state’s voters have shrugged away concerns about pollution, as have our lawmakers. But now they’re confronting something that may be dangerous in even minuscule amounts, something that can’t readily be filtered out of the water supply. The public response to GenX is new and different for North Carolina. Residents of this region want the state to be on their side, to protect them from this threat. The Senate’s cynical response is deeply disappointing. And if the Senate doesn’t get serious, it may come back to haunt Senate Republicans on Election Day.”