NC House passes bill to address Gen-X fears

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Democratic Rep. Deb Butler said "this is a public health hazard that requires immediate attention."

The NC House unanimously passed a bill Wednesday that would provide funding to look into water contamination.

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House Bill 189 was filed during the special session and provides funding to protect water source and air quality that could be lace with Gen-X, a cancer-causing chemical.

The measure also got support from Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's administration. Almost half of the $2.3 million would go to purchase, maintain and operate a spectrometer that would help state officials find chemicals in waters.

The measure now goes to the Senate, which adjourned essentially until next week even before the House approved the measure. Bill sponsor Rep. Ted Davis of Wilmington said he's disappointed by that move but remains hopeful it will become law.

This short legislative work session is expected to remain open until at least the end of next week, but no additional votes are currently planned.

State officials started investigating the chemical after it leaked into the Cape Fear River from a nearby plant.

"This is a public health hazard that requires immediate attention. We're seven months in and nothing of substance has occurred. Nothing," said Rep. Deb Butler, a Democrat who represents District 18 (Brunswick, New Hanover).

Senate leader Phil Berger released a statement following the vote:

"Senate Republicans have already shown we are serious about finding real solutions that will actually improve water quality in the Cape Fear River and hold violators accountable for dumping GenX into the region's water supply. That's why several months ago we passed legislation to immediately and directly address the problem of GenX contamination in the lower Cape Fear region. We provided funding to local public utilities to begin removing GenX from public water supplies. And we commissioned studies to quantify the amount of GenX in the Cape Fear River and determine the impact it could have on public health and safety. The first round of data is due this spring.

"What the House passed today unfortunately does nothing to prevent GenX from going into the water supply. It leaves North Carolina taxpayers holding the bag for expenditures that should be paid for by the company responsible for the pollution, fails to give DEQ authority to do anything they can't already do, and authorizes the purchase of expensive equipment that the state can already access for free.

"We are waiting for the data we required in October so we can take meaningful action to address this problem in the short session."


The North Carolina NAACP and about a hundred of its supporters arrived at the General Assembly for the special session ready to fight for fair courts.

The pushback comes less than 24 hours after a panel of federal judges struck down the state's congressional district maps calling it illegal gerrymandering.

"Last night's decision is a mammoth decision," said North Carolina NAACP President Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman. "I am infuriated that we are having to exert so much energy into this day when we have to confront folk that ought not be in their seats anyhow."

Petitions were dropped off urging Republicans not to appeal.

House Speaker Tim Moore said GOP leaders are ready to fight.

"We obviously disagree with the ruling," said Moore. "We're still conferring with our attorneys. This was a decision over 200 pages and we're still going through it and reading it, frankly, to understand exactly why the court is ruling the way it is."

The House will be in session Thursday. The Senate is in recess until Friday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report
Related Topics:
politicsstate politicsgeneral assemblycontaminated waterRaleighWake County
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