For the first time in my memory, Cumberland County residents are coming face to face with the environmental impacts of industrial expansion. The two making headlines are the GenEx disaster and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
The Atlantic Coast Pipeline has drawn major criticism in this County, which prompted industry leaders to change to route of the pipe further to the east across the river. Presumably, this would cause fewer interactions with residential areas. Still, the pipe is on its way, angry landowners are losing property to make way for the pipe, and environmental groups are holding demonstrations. Governor Cooper is taking heat for his apparent support, among other things.
GenEx is a major problem that is not going anywhere. The harmful chemical compound is in our air and water and does not break down naturally. Dozens of residential wells in southern Cumberland County are permanently contaminated. City water cannot get to these people fast enough, and it seems the process has started, but it is certain to last a long time, and the outraged will remain outraged that their leaders allowed this to happen in the 21st Century.
I believe these issues, GenEx and water quality in particular, will become hot topics this spring and fall in local and state elections. Democratic candidates are likely to lead the charge against the polluters. The question, and the gamble for republican incumbents, like Wesley Meredith (R – NC Senate) or John Szoka (R – NC House), is whether the issue matters. Should they buck their party’s leadership and take a stand against industry, or should they sit back and play it safe? In short, will the issue actually change the way people vote, and if so, how many people?
I think it’s an important question to ask. Those running for office are asking it as we speak.
I welcome anyone’s comments. Click on the comment button to contribute.