On June 12, 2017, Congressman Rouzer sent the following email to his constituents, regarding the announcement of GenX in our drinking water. Below is an open letter I sent to him in response to the email.
June 12, 2017
I wanted to provide you with an update regarding contamination reports of a chemical compound, commercially referred to as “Gen X,” in the drinking water system of the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA).
As many of you have probably read, this chemical is used to make Teflon and is made by Chemours at Fayetteville Works, about 100 miles upstream from Wilmington. My office has been in contact with the EPA in Washington to make sure they are on top of this—and to ensure all the facts are made plain and transparent to the public.
We will continue to post updates on Facebook and our website as we learn more.
Dear Congressman Rouzer,
I received the email to your constituency regarding the announcement of the contamination in our water supply. As I hope you realize, this has been forefront in my mind since it became public knowledge last week. I hoped you would weigh in on this issue, as you are our elected voice, and your attention to specific matters carries weight.
So when I read this email, I admit I was baffled—baffled because you stood on a stage in the Odell Williamson Auditorium in Brunswick County in March and told me you believed less government regulation would be better for all of us. That gutting the Environmental Protection Agency—the very agency you have referred this matter to—would make all our lives safer and better. You assured us less government oversight was in our best interest, and we should want less taxes and less regulation to allow businesses to care for us.
That was on March 6, 2017.
Now, your answer to the news that a quarter million people have contaminated water is to tell me your office is in communication with the Environmental Protection Agency? I read that email carefully. You did not demand this must stop, immediately.
But you are our voice. And, just so you know, we are screaming for this to stop. Can you not hear us?
You tell us you want to make sure the facts are plain and transparent to the public. Yet, the press was effectively muzzled from the meeting between New Hanover, Pender and Brunswick County officials, the CFPUA and Chemours; allowed one local pool reporter—with no audio or visual recording equipment permitted—to take notes that would be distributed to the rest of the media outlets? That hardly qualifies as transparent. Even allowing said reporter an audio recording device would have been an improvement. How is our access to information communicated to public officials about our health not protected by freedom of the press? Why are you not demanding actual transparency on behalf of your constituents?
You sent me this email on July 7, 2015:
Over the last six months, House Republicans have worked to protect small businesses and American taxpayers from the onerous rules and regulations coming out of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Supreme Court’s decision requiring the EPA to consider the costs of the regulations it imposes on American families further validates our actions.
The EPA is out of control and must be reined in!
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Earlier this year, the House passed the Regulatory Accountability Act (H.R. 185) that would help rein in economically-harmful regulations by requiring bureaucrats to institute regulations based on sound data and at the lowest possible cost to taxpayers. Most recently, the House passed the Ratepayer Protection Act (H.R. 2042) that would help shield families and small businesses from double-digit energy price hikes, by delaying new rules on power producers that pose a significant threat to the economy. Additionally, we’ve fought tooth and nail against rule changes to “Waters of the U.S.” that would greatly expand the EPA’s jurisdiction to include nearly any body of water—including that water puddled in your ditch after a rain storm.
We’re listening to the American people and fighting to get the federal government out of your business.
June 16, 2017
Dear Congressman Rouzer,
Clearly, the Environmental Protection Agency has been in your sights for a while.
Many people have grudge matches in their lives—professional or personal lives. But, perhaps, picking the agency responsible for the safety of the water your constituents and their children and pets drink and bathe in might not be the best target.
It can be tough to learn to say, “I’m sorry. I was a jerk.” Or “I was wrong.” That learning process is actually the theme of the bulk of children’s and young adult literature—there are some excellent books I could recommend, if you are interested—because, clearly, if you are going to work carefully with the Environmental Protection Agency to put your constituents’ health first and foremost as your priority, you are going to have to apologize to some people. Or you are not going to get anything accomplished. Here are some opening suggestions:
“I’m sorry I voted to gut your budget and make it almost impossible for you to do your job and keep my constituents safe. Please, forgive me. I realize how important the work you do is to the daily lives of the people I represent”
“I’m sorry I supported a new boss for you who wants to destroy the very organization he is appointed to direct. I realize you have dedicated your professional lives to keeping people like those I represent in North Carolina safe. Please, forgive me, because we need to move forward and solve this problem.
“I acknowledge I am quoted as saying you are ‘stifling this economy.’ At the time I didn’t understand you were (and are) trying to protect the health of my constituents. I am sorry I failed to understand that. Please, forgive me and help me protect the people who depend upon me put their safety and needs first.”
Or, if you prefer a more personal approach, Congressman. Rouzer, you can try: “I’m sorry I have been trash-talking you. I believed what my buddies said, and I didn’t take the time to get to know you. Now that I need you; it would be awesome if you could continue to make the world a better place and forgive me for trying to destroy everything you have worked for. I am so sorry.”
I know it is hard, but I believe you can do it. Because I really do believe you do care about the people you represent. You made a vow to us when you were sworn into office, and we need you now more than ever to put us ahead of big business.
Please, don’t tell me your office is talking to the Environmental Protection Agency and then do nothing. That is cowardice, and we deserve better than hastily drafted email that says nothing and a congressman who does less. We deserve answers—but, more, we deserve action. Be our man of action and come out swinging for us. It is not going to be easy, and it will require some fence-mending and bridge-building, but you have both of those skills. We need you to use them on our behalf because right now the people you represent are scared. We are terrified to brush our teeth, wash produce, hydrate our pets, bathe our children, or make a cup of coffee. That’s not what you want for us. Please, as a registered voter, concerned citizen and human who is dependent upon water for daily survival, I ask you to demand that Chemours cease releasing GenX into our water immediately. Please, don’t tell me you’re monitoring it or in close discussions. Please, tell me you have taken a stand on behalf of your constituents. Please, make this your top priority. Please, put us and our children ahead of campaign contributions and big business.