Commentary

Editorial: “Shame” on senators for GenX legislation that endangers public safety

Sen. Michael Lee

Sen. Bill Rabon

Sen. Wesley Meredith

In case you missed it on Memorial Day, an editorial from the paper of record in one of the communities most affected by the GenX water pollution disaster offered a scathing take on the state Senate’s latest plan of action on the matter — the so-called “Water Safety Act.” This from the Fayetteville Observer editorial “Water Safety Act is nothing of the kind”:

“The state Senate’s Water Safety Act belies its own name and only will make it more difficult to clean up GenX and a host of other dangerous emerging contaminants that are found in varying degrees of abundance in the Cape Fear River — and in the kitchen and bathroom faucets of homes that depend on the river for their drinking water.

The measure’s primary sponsors — Sens. Wesley Meredith, Michael Lee and Bill Rabon — represent most of the communities around or downstream from the Chemours plant on the Cumberland-Bladen county line, the primary source of the chemicals that have fouled the air, groundwater and the river. If they know how badly their legislation can frustrate efforts to stop the pollution, determine its health effects and clean it up, shame on them. If they don’t understand what they’re doing, shame on them too.”

After explaining how the legislation would actually make it harder for the Department of Environmental Quality to do its job of protecting public health by, among other things, continuing to under-fund the agency, the editorial concludes this way:

“What Sens. Meredith, Lee and Rabon propose to do, in other words, is to continue the wholesale destruction of the state’s own regulatory systems and departments, a process that has proceeded steadily and with considerable vengeance since the Republican takeover of the General Assembly. In truth, the Democrats who preceded them weren’t all that enthusiastic about environmental protection, but the GOP has taken laissez-faire to a whole new level. If the Water Safety Act — Senate Bill 724 — somehow becomes law, our state’s already-polluted water systems will become increasingly unsafe and efforts to find and stop the emissions of GenX and related chemicals, along with other likely carcinogens like 1,4-dioxane, will all but grind to a halt.

The Senate has once again put its deregulation mania ahead of public safety. We hope the voters are taking note in this election year.”

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