The government of the North Carolina has a constitutional responsibility to protect the air, water and land for all future generations. It’s that plain and simple. Yet it appears to this observer the Republican-controlled legislature is violating the state constitution on a weekly basis by not protecting our environment.

The agency we have, the Department of Environmental Quality, whose charge is protecting the environment, is being underfunded more and more each budget cycle.

Science is important. The best way to deal with the pollution of our drinking water is to deal with the source point. That means it might impact real estate developers and other industries. If the legislature doesn’t want to hold them responsible for polluting our drinking water, then we need to step up and take care of it. Instead of cutting the Department of Environmental Quality over the past few years, we need to come up with tools to figure out where the problems are and find solutions immediately. That requires resources.

As an example, we have communities in North Carolina where people live within a half a mile of an unlined coal-ash pond. Their well water is compromised by the proximity of that ash. Duke Energy is required by law to provide a water supply to those residents by October. It’s been 1,000 days – three years that the people in these communities are living off of bottled water. This is not the way we take care of our citizens. This is not the way we assure recruiting companies and industry that if you move your business to North Carolina, your employees will have a high quality of life.

At a press conference with other legislators and residents who have been living on bottled water for three years because of coal ash leaking into their water supplies, John called for action: “I urge the leadership in the legislature and DEQ to demand that Duke Energy remove all of its coal ash from unlined pits and safely recycle it or dispose of it above ground on Duke’s property, and to support groundwater standards for emerging contaminants, such as hexavalent chromium, that are protective of the public’s health.”