Commentary

Editorial: Why is Senator Berger ignoring a serious public-safety concern?

The StarNews Editorial Board bluntly asks in its Tuesday paper: Does Berger even care about GenX?

The newspaper that first broke the story of the emerging contaminant in the Cape Fear last year notes that it is long past due for Senate leadership to act.

Here’s an excerpt from the paper:

With voter outcry growing and crossing traditional partisan lines (a toxic chemical in your drinking water has a way of doing that), the House recently passed a bill that provides a much-needed boost to DEQ, enabling the overburdened and underfunded agency to respond more effectively to the GenX contamination, which has widened in both scope and geography.

But [Senate leader Phil ] Berger — the state’s most powerful political leader — is having none of it. We don’t know what his motives are, but we suspect they are simply political, related to the larger effort to make our traditionally moderate state a testing ground for laissez-faire government and faith that the invisible hand of the market will balance any corporate excesses like, say, contaminating the drinking water of a good chunk of the state’s population with a toxic chemical that, by design, pretty much never decomposes.

The good news is, the House now seems committed to better funding for DEQ, at least for the GenX response. In the Senate, Berger rules with an iron fist. So we have no doubt that he could turn the switch in an instant and have the chamber take up the House bill, quickly get it approved, and give DEQ the resources it needs to do its job.

Meanwhile, we are thinking about the folks we see with shopping carts full of nothing but bottled water; the kids who come over to play with our children, instructed not to drink the water; those affected by the economic uncertainty GenX has caused, including possible lost job opportunities after new companies nixed Wilmington as a location, or existing businesses opted not to expand here.

We are thinking, too, about those who now can’t help but look back at cancers and other illnesses — even deaths — with new questions; there’s no proof of any connection with little-studied GenX, we know; but we understand the questions and the fear.

What we don’t understand is Berger’s callous response to the very legitimate concerns of the good people of Southeastern North Carolina. Come down here and meet some of them, Sen. Berger. Maybe that would persuade you to act.

For now, we guess we’re supposed to believe Berger and Chemours have got our backs.

We have, however, spotted the “invisible hand” that’s supposed to help protect us. It’s flying high in Raleigh — symbolically, of course — directed toward Southeastern North Carolina, and with a certain finger extended upward.

Without a change of heart by Senator Berger, the earliest the General Assembly might revisit the GenX issue would be mid-May when they reconvene.

Read the Star News full editorial here.

Check Also

ECU’s Chancellor announces plans to step down

East Carolina University will soon be searching for ...

Top Stories from NCPW

  • News
  • Commentary

Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett) will secure his place in history if for no other reason than uttering t [...]

In 2016 the battle over HB2 cast an international spotlight on the struggles of transgender people i [...]

Something is changing the genetic code in the cells of young girls in Iredell County. Duke Universit [...]

The American Bar Association (ABA) issued a scathing report Wednesday that notes U.S. Immigration co [...]

The post ‘Board of Governors’ appeared first on NC Policy Watch. [...]

Everyone’s taking a powder in the UNC system these days. Everyone, it seems, but the powerful indivi [...]

A new release from NC Child highlights the plight of many who work in early childhood education: no [...]

A new and promising push to raise North Carolina’s minimum wage gets underway today. Lawmakers and a [...]