CIB 10/24/2016: Governor office involved in misleading polluted well users

They tried to dodge, but finally had to admit, that the Governor’s Office had its hand directly in sending misleading information to polluted well users. This week in CIB:

Executive Watch: Governor’s Office Directly Involved in Misleading Polluted Well Users

Under cross-examination during a court deposition, the communications director for the state health department admitted that the Governor’s office had dictated specific language to be included in a letter to the owners of wells that had been found to be contaminated with a cancer-causing form of chromium.

The language given provided reassurance that the water contamination did not exceed federal drinking water standards, an assurance that experts have called misleading. State Toxicologist Ken Rudo resisted including the reference to federal drinking water standards for total chromium, because he knew that the risk threshold was much lower for the specific type of chromium found in the contaminated wells used by the owners being warned.

The testimony reluctantly given under oath, under cross-examination, by one of the McCrory officials directly involved in preparation of the warning letters stands in apparent contradiction of previous claims from McCrory that he was not involved in the controversial decision on what to tell people about the safety of their polluted well water.

Fighting against standards adequate to protect families’ health. Misleading them about the dangers. Trying to cover up your role in this sorry story of deliberately putting the health of children and families at heightened risk. Is this the kind of leadership we want for our state?

Campaign Watch: McCrory Can’t Keep His Dates Straight; NCLCV Releases Updated Endorsements

We’re two weeks out from the conclusion of campaign 2016, and the environmentally relevant news keeps coming.

McCrory Can’t Keep His Dates Straight: In the final NC gubernatorial debate of 2016, Gov. Pat McCrory was hit with a tough question on coal ash and his cozy relationship with his long-time employer Duke Energy. In his answer, McCrory was caught fudging the timeline of events, raising doubts about the veracity of his explanation.

The debate moderator pressed McCrory on the question of what was discussed during a private dinner between McCrory, top environmental aides, and high-ranking Duke Energy representatives in summer 2015. The meeting had taken place during a time when the state’s regulatory treatment of Duke, its handling of coal ash problems, and relevant water pollution issues were being debated in public as well as inside agencies run by McCrory political appointees. When knowledge that the meeting had taken place first became public, McCrory declined to respond directly to questions about the subject matter discussed there.

Under questioning during last week’s debate, McCrory had an answer ready. He claimed that he had discussed with Duke representatives his intent to veto legislation Duke wanted, which (among other things) set up a special commission to evaluate coal ash cleanup problems and priorities.

There’s one big problem with McCrory’s story. At the time of his secret meeting with Duke representatives, the bill he’s talking about was not pending in the state legislature. A bill setting up such a commission had been passed by the legislature the year before and became law without McCrory’s signature or his veto. He later sued to get the law overturned, but the appeal of that case was still pending in the state courts at the time of the meeting.

A fact-check of debate claims, made after the debate by reporters for WRAL news, lays out these contradictions.

Attorney General Roy Cooper’s campaign called attention to the dubious account as well. A Cooper campaign spokesperson told WRAL, “When asked about his private meetings with Duke Energy executives tonight, Governor McCrory gave an answer that couldn’t possibly be true. So the question remains: Why was Governor McCrory meeting with his former employer, and why won’t he be honest with North Carolina families?”

NCLCV Releases Updated Endorsements: Interested in the comprehensive updated list of NCLCV’s recommendations for state and legislative elections this year? Here’s where you can find it.

Climate Change Update: Treaty Update Will Control Powerful Greenhouse Gas

Last week nearly 200 nations signed on to an amendment to the 1987 treaty (the Montreal Protocol) that saved the upper atmospheric “ozone layer” which helps protect our planet from high doses of ultraviolet radiation. That treaty phased out use of the chemicals (chlorofluorocarbons) that were destroying the ozone.

Unfortunately, one of the replacement chemicals which were introduced afterwards, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), has a serious problem of its own. It’s a powerful greenhouse gas, many times more powerful ton for ton than the carbon dioxide which helps trap solar heat in the atmosphere, pushing climate change. Analysts are concerned that a major expansion in the global use of air conditioning which relies on HFCs as a refrigerant will add enough to the atmosphere to keep global warming growing out of control.

The amendment to the Montreal Protocol which was adopted last week will phase out the use of HFCs. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called the agreement “likely the single most important step we could take at this moment to limit the warming of our planet.” Click here for more details and information links.

Education & Resources: Early Voting Underway Now

Early voting is underway now in North Carolina’s critical 2016 elections. NCLCV recommends that concerned NC citizens make a plan to vote early, so as to ensure that your vote will count. (You never know what emergencies may pop up to call you elsewhere on election day.)

To help with your plan, here’s where you can find information on early voting site locations and schedules in your county.

There’s no excuse for forgetting to vote—and please vote with the environment in mind! The future of our planet and our people depends on it. Remember, you can find how your elected officials voted on key environmental issues in 2016 (and find their lifetime environmental voting score) here.

That’s our report for this week.

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