Gov. Cooper says he will veto a controversial bill that would amend several environmental laws. It includes funding for local efforts to cleanup pollution in the Cape Fear River.

The wide-ranging environmental measure contained more than $400,000 to cleanup and monitor the chemical known as GenX. Until recently, a plant upstream from Wilmington discharged the chemical into the Cape Fear River.

Gov. Cooper says the proposal doesn't go far enough to protect water quality statewide.

Two departments in the Democratic governor's administration had wanted $2.6 million to hire more water quality monitors and scientists. Cooper says repeated budget cuts have left resources stretched thin for state regulators. He says nearly 70 positions have been cut from the Water Quality Division of the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) alone since 2013.

But GOP leaders accuse the governor of playing politics and say the legislation would provide immediate action for local cleanup of the chemical. House speaker Tim Moore of Cleveland County says the GenX crisis is the failure of state regulators that spans multiple decades and not recent budget cuts.

Now Republican legislators returning in early October must decide whether to try to override the veto — Cooper's 12th since taking office in January.

The bill also contains several other measures, including lifting the ban on plastic bags at stores in the Outer Banks.

*Follow WFDD's Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news

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