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General Assembly Overrides Governor's Veto of Bill Containing GenX Funding

[Added Oct. 6, 2017]

The North Carolina General Assembly voted Oct. 4, 2017 to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of House Bill 56 (Amend Environmental Laws). The bill among other provisions provides water treatment funding to local utilities in Southeastern North Carolina to address the discharge of the chemical compound GenX into the Cape Fear River.

The vote to override the veto was 70-44 in the House and 30-9 in the Senate with no debate in favor of the override.

HB 56, now Session Law 2017-209, does the following with respect to the poly-fluoroalkyl chemical known as "GenX" (CAS registry number 62037-80-3 or 13252-13-6)

- $250,000 to the University of North Carolina at Wilmington to identify and quantify GenX and measure the concentration of the chemicals in the sediments of the Cape Fear River, the extent to which the chemical biodegrades over time or bioaccumulates within local ecosystems, and what risk the contaminant poses to human health.

- Provides $185,000 to the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority and other local public utilities to develop treatment technologies to remove GenX from public water supplies, and to make sure that treatment is working through ongoing monitoring.

- Require the North Carolina Policy Collaboratory at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to develop a proposal for the creation of an online database to provide National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) and other water quality permits, permit applications, and relevant supporting documents to the public in a searchable and user friendly format, as well as creation of a system for electronic filing of applications for such permits and relevant supporting documents.

Governor Cooper issued the following response to the legislature’s vote to override the veto of HB 56: “When it comes to drinking water, legislators should put politics aside and listen to experts. This legislation does not solve the problem and fails to fund the agencies responsible for protecting drinking water and holding polluters accountable. It also unnecessarily rolls back other environmental protections and overturns a local plastic bag ban protecting beaches and water. Protecting drinking water from emerging contaminants will require a statewide solution and families shouldn’t suffer under the illusion that this legislation starts fixing the problem.”

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