Budget Proposal for GenX and Other Contaminants

Protecting our clean air and drinking water is critical, and Governor Cooper is working to give state agencies and experts the tools they need to protect North Carolina families. It’s clear that legislators’ long-term cuts and patchwork solutions put clean air and drinking water at risk.

In order to protect the health of North Carolinians, Governor Cooper’s budget will recommend $14.5 million for the Department of Environmental Quality and the Department of Health and Human Services to address the safety and quality of North Carolina’s water and environment.

The discovery of GenX in the Cape Fear River has highlighted our state and nation’s ongoing challenges with emerging contaminants. While DEQ and DHHS were able to quickly respond, set a health goal, and monitor the water to bring the levels down, it is clear that the agencies responsible for protecting our water need more resources.

  • In recent years, legislators have cut millions in funding from DEQ, particularly in the area of water quality.
  • Since 2013, DEQ has seen 77 positions eliminated from the water quality and water resources staff, a 45 percent reduction.
  • Years of cuts have left waterways unprotected and water permit reviews backlogged.
  • North Carolina has more than 60 more water discharge facilities than South Carolina, and yet SC has twice as many permit writers.

While DEQ and DHHS made initial requests to address these contaminants last year, they were clear that a larger effort is required to protect our environment and drinking water statewide. The recommendations in Governor Cooper’s budget are clear and necessary and legislators should stop dragging their feet and get serious about protecting North Carolina families and resources.

Recommendations include:

  • Additional Staff and Equipment for Water Quality and Sampling – $7 Million
  • New Scientific Equipment for Laboratory Analysis – $1 Million
  • Investments and Technology Upgrades in DEQ’s Permitting Process – $4.4 Million
  • Funding Planning for Long-Term Needed Facility Upgrades – $1.5 Million
  • Additional Environmental Epidemiology Health Experts at DHHS – $536,000

The Cooper Administration has taken strong actions to hold polluters accountable and protect our air and drinking water. Protecting the health and safety of North Carolinians should be a top priority and these resources would give state experts vital tools they need to protect families. It is time for legislators to take the health of North Carolinians seriously and support these recommendations.