Editorial: Cooper must make safe water top priority
Tuesday, July 18, 2017 -- The problems left with the inadequate and inappropriate storage of coal ash aren't a punching bag for politicians to spar with during a campaign. The campaign is done. Citizens deserve to know their government sets their health and safety as the top priority.Posted — Updated
Gov. Roy Cooper didn’t inherit a very high standard from former Gov. Pat McCrory when it comes to dealing with citizens about possible threats to their health – like a dangerous level of cancer-causing chemicals in the drinking water of homeowners with wells near coal ash dumps.
While the Cooper administration may have cleared that pathetic standard so far, it recently fell short of what the public deserves when rolling out health and safety standards for private wells near coal ash ponds.
Haven’t we seen this bad movie before? This latest difference of opinion is being portrayed as an honest disagreement.
Still, if the goal was to: 1. Make sure that people weren’t drinking water that would make them sick and; 2. Be sure citizens had confidence in that assessment – state officials missed their mark.
Regan had directed the advisory board to review scientific and health data as well as conduct public forums to address the issues and hear concerns of the public. The goal is to have consensus around a standard by the end of the year.
Even amid the General Assembly’s efforts to shrink and minimize the regulatory authority of state agencies, it remains a basic function of government to assure the safety of its citizens – in this case that the water they drink won’t kill them. The Cooper administration needs to remain vigilant and be sure the advisory board fulfills its mandate.
Regan and Secretary Mandy Cohen, his counterpart in the Department of Health and Human Services, need to work together, openly, so citizens are assured the rules and regulations are established in an open and transparent matter.
Further, the first priority is public safety not the political posture of any public officials or the financial interests of powerful companies.
The problems left with the inadequate and inappropriate storage of coal ash aren’t merely a punching bag for politicians to spar with during a campaign.
The campaign is done. Citizens deserve to know their government sets their health and safety as the top priority.
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