RALEIGH — Governor Roy Cooper vetoed House Bill 56 today, in the latest development of a partisan struggle over funding for and authority over the GenX issue.
HB56 was filed in February to amend and restructure a number of environmental laws; the bill was derailed over controversial provisions to ease landfill restrictions and repeal a ban on plastic bags in the Outer Banks.
Recently, Republicans amended the bill to provide funding to the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority for the specific task of researching and filtering GenX. Spearheaded by State Senator Michael Lee, the amendment was added as Republicans worked to deny Governor Cooper’s request for addition funding for state-level regulation and study of GenX and other contaminants.
In an open letter defending the veto, Cooper wrote:
“The legislation passed by the General Assembly, House Bill 56, provides no resources to the state agencies charged with protecting drinking water and preventing illegal chemicals from being discharged into our rivers. It gives the impression of action while allowing the long-term problem to fester. And it unnecessarily rolls back other environmental protections for landfills, river basins, and our beaches.
“This cynical legislation fails to address the concerns of families in the Cape Fear region and does nothing to protect drinking water statewide going forward,” Cooper wrote.
State Senator Michael Lee was quick to respond.
“He is now on record for rejecting the only proposal that will actually help clean our drinking water in the lower Cape Fear region.” “I am troubled that the governor would place politics ahead of public safety, and prioritize bureaucracy over results,” Lee said.
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