— A lobbying group that includes GenX manufacturer Chemours asked for three changes to legislation targeting the company’s chemical emissions, and it got all three during a complex back-and-forth that saw the bill morph significantly between rollout and inclusion in the new state budget.

Among the changes: No longer would North Carolina test drinking water supplies for pharmaceuticals and an array of chemicals called emerging contaminants as part of a wide-ranging search for what’s in the water. The focus is narrower under legislation about to pass this General Assembly, keying on GenX and related chemicals that have captured most of the public attention since their presence was revealed in Wilmington’s drinking water one year ago.

The legislation also provides for a different spectrometer than the one requested by the state Department of Environmental Quality – one able to identify chemicals it’s told to look for, not one that can identify a wider spectrum of compounds.

The broader testing would have put North Carolina out of step with the rest of the country, dissuading manufacturers who might consider relocating to, or expanding in, the state, according to Preston Howard…

Howard is president of the North Carolina Manufacturers Alliance and a former director of the state Division of Water Quality. Those broader tests ‘will almost assuredly reveal that there are many, many chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and other consumer products in those water supplies,’ Howard wrote state legislators last week, warning them not to ‘open a Pandora’s Box.’

‘Most will be detected at very low levels,’ he wrote. ‘But just as was the case with GenX, there will be very little information about the toxicity of those substances, resulting in the same or similar controversies over whether the concentrations pose any significant risk to public health or the environment.’

Neither legislators involved in the bill nor environmental attorneys who also worked to change the bill in other ways said the Manufacturers Alliance had undue input over the final language. Howard and the manufacturers were “part of a diverse coalition that included environmentalists and manufacturers that had major problems with the bills,” according to state Rep. Chuck McGrady, a Republican budget chairman in the House and a former Sierra Club national president.”

Read the full article by Travis Fain