North Carolina v. Chemours: Early Reflections on an Ongoing State Environmental Enforcement Case

by Joel Mintz | November 27, 2017

The Trump EPA's shrinking commitment to enforcement of the nation's environmental laws has focused new attention on state-level enforcement and the extent to which it does or does not address problems of environmental pollution and threats to public health. One recent – and ongoing – controversy, involving toxic chemical contamination of a river in North Carolina by a large and profitable corporation, provides some insights into both the promise and the shortcomings of state environmental law enforcement. It also sheds light on some aspects of contemporary corporate culture and the salutary role that careful investigative journalism and public opinion can sometimes play in prodding state regulators to respond effectively to corporate pollution.

In 2012, a group of scientific researchers discovered that GenX, a fluorinated compound, was present in North Carolina's Cape Fear River – a finding that was confirmed the following year by a second team of scientists. While the health effects of GenX are still being studied by EPA, a number of researchers within the United States and abroad suspect that the chemical is a human carcinogen.

GenX and other fluorinated contaminants were also soon found in a downstream public drinking water system – the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) – that supplies drinking water to the residents of Wilmington, North Carolina. The CFPUA's plant has no capacity to filter out any GenX drawn into its equipment from raw river ...

Ignoring Climate Change Can Be Deadly: State Edition

by Victor Flatt | November 07, 2016
During the U.S. presidential race, much ink has been spilled on how important the election is. But one of the most important issues of all – climate change – has made little appearance in the election discourse, even though it is one of many issues on which the candidates have sharp divisions. But those divisions are not just important at the federal level. Climate change and environmental risk have also been politically divisive at the state level. Many state governments have ...

CPR's Shapiro Takes on the Politicization of Science in North Carolina

by Brian Gumm | August 18, 2016
In a new op-ed published in the Raleigh News & Observer, Center for Progressive Reform Member Scholar and Board Member Sidney Shapiro examines two recent examples of politics getting in the way of protecting people and the environment in North Carolina. As he explains, the politicization of science by state officials has serious ramifications for the ability of agencies and scientists to safeguard residents from toxic chemicals, rising sea levels, and more.  The following is an excerpt from the op-ed: ...

Good News for North Carolina Coasts

by Eric Panicco | April 18, 2016
Eric Panicco, a candidate for Master of Arts in Sustainability at Wake Forest University, is undertaking an independent study for CPR Member Scholar Sidney Shapiro. On August 3 of last year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the Clean Power Plan. It was a historic moment for President Obama, one he commemorated by observing, "We're the first generation to feel climate change, and the last one that can do something about it." Should it survive the inevitable court challenge launched ...

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