NC House committee to hear bill on emerging contaminants
Rep. Ted Davis says legislation represents a necessary ‘first step’ to deal with chemicals like toxic GenX RALEIGH — Legislation scheduled to appear before a N.C. House committee Thursday would, the committee’s chair said, set the table for broader water quality proposals in the short session later this year.
Designed to implement short-term measures addressing emerging contaminants, the bill directs the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to share details about new health standards for emerging contaminants with the Secretaries’ Science Advisory Board; directs the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to share water quality information with nearby states; and directs DEQ to review its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting.
“This is something that is the foundation, it’s just the first step,” said state Rep. Ted Davis, R-New Hanover, the senior chair of the House’s Select Committee on N.C. River Quality.
We realize it’s not even close to everything that people might want, but we’re going to have something be heard that is otherwise not eligible to be heard.” An appropriation could, Davis said, be included in the legislation when it appears before the House and the Senate during the Jan. 10 special session, but he was hesitant to share details about the proposal.
Conversation doesn’t turn the gears much,” said Rep. Deb Butler, D-New Hanover, who has repeatedly asked to be appointed to the river quality committee.
Butler said she has recently had discussions with DEQ about an appropriations proposal that would effectively be a scaled down version of the $2.6 million advanced by Gov.
Roy Cooper last summer that would have reversed some recent budget cuts at the environmental agency and added a water safety unit at DHHS.
“They’re already understaffed and overworked and underfunded.” Burdette also expressed concerns that directing DHHS to consult with the SAB could, in future administrations, result in industry friendly appointees slowing up or dismantling science-backed health goals.
Davis has said he is hopeful it can continue its work in future sessions, including crafting the proposals that could come in the short session.
Reporter Adam Wagner can be reached at 910-343-2389 or Adam.Wagner@GateHouseMedia.com.