North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said Thursday he will veto legislation that would have funded local efforts to research and remove the chemical GenX from the Cape Fear River on the basis of underfunding.
House Bill 56 allocated $250,000 to UNC-Wilmington for research of GenX, and a total of $185,000 to the Cape Fear River Public Utility Authority to treat and monitor the water supply. The bill also included 19 changes to environmental law, including the repeal of the ban of plastic bags in the Outer Banks.
Cooper said in a statement his decision to veto was due to the lack of funding for the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services and the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality. Together, the agencies requested $2.6 million to hire new experts to address pollutants.
“(House Bill 56) gives the impression of action while allowing the long-term problem to fester,” Cooper said. “And it unnecessarily rolls back other environmental protections for landfills, river basins and our beaches.”
Molly Diggins, the state director of the North Carolina chapter of the Sierra Club, said GenX is an emerging contaminant, meaning it is not well studied or well regulated. Diggins said funding for state agencies is crucial since water supplies across North Carolina are susceptible to emerging contaminants.