The General Assembly voted to override Governor Cooper’s Veto of House Bill 56 yesterday, the environmental omnibus passed last month that appropriates only local funding for GenX testing on the Cape Fear River, weakens stormwater and solid waste regulations and repeals the Outer Banks’ plastic bag ban.
When the Governor vetoed this bill, he stated, “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,” Cooper wrote in an explanation for the veto posted at Medium.com. “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.”
Your Upper Neuse Riverkeeper, Matthew Starr, noted, “Lawmakers on Jones Street are patting themselves on the back for funding a small study on GenX in the Cape Fear. But the money they’ve appropriated with H56 is inadequate and does nothing to prevent a similar situation in a different watershed. Nor does it do anything to address the presence of the numerous other dangerous contaminants that researchers have shown for months exist alongside GenX in the Cape Fear. What we need is for the Department of Environmental Quality to have the funding it needs to reduce permit backlogs and adequately enforce the law.”
In addition to providing inadequate funds for the state to adequately address pollution to drinking water supplies the bill unnecessarily weakens clean water protections for streams. Included in the bill is a short provision that would allow for cutting of tree line banks for the purposes of “public safety”. Tree lined river banks are important filters of pollution.