From Cabarrus County to Cumberland County, our region is a special place with unique challenges and opportunities. Last week, I was honored to welcome two of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet officials to highlight some of these important issues for our community and state.
On Tuesday, I invited Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler to come to Fayetteville to discuss ways we are addressing PFAS chemicals like GenX in our water. When it comes to GenX, people in our community are angry, they are afraid, and we want answers. I first invited the EPA to Fayetteville in 2018 so they could hear directly from our community on this issue. Last week’s bipartisan roundtable discussion continued that dialogue and allowed our local representatives to engage directly with the EPA administrator.
I urged the EPA to complete a final toxicity assessment of GenX and discussed my most recent efforts to combat PFAS chemicals, including GenX, through two amendments I secured in the latest appropriations bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. These amendments would study the relationship between PFAS exposure and COVID-19, and provide $2.4 million for the EPA to develop regulations to control discharge of PFAS in surface waters.
Also at the roundtable, Administrator Wheeler announced the new Innovative Ways to Destroy PFAS Challenge, a partnership between federal and state agencies seeking detailed plans for a non-incineration method to destroy PFAS in firefighting foam. I am happy to see the EPA pursuing this initiative as part of the PFAS Action Plan — the most comprehensive cross-agency plan ever to address an emerging chemical of concern. It was great to have Administrator Wheeler in Fayetteville to discuss how we can continue to combat GenX and clean up the Cape Fear River.
Also last week, I invited HUD Secretary Ben Carson, a champion of efforts to make housing more affordable, to Kannapolis to talk about how we can improve housing in our community. Secretary Carson leads the Trump Administration’s White House Council of Eliminating Barriers to Affordable Housing, which was created by an executive order signed by President Trump to engage with state, local and tribal leaders across the country to identify and remove obstacles that impede production of affordable homes. I also discussed legislation I am working on to modernize the low-income housing tax credit to make it more flexible and easier to use.
Secretary Carson has also done a lot of work on Opportunity Zones, a program I supported in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. North Carolina has 252 approved Opportunity Zones, with 18 of them right here in our region. These zones incentivize economic growth in economically distressed communities, with an expected $100 billion in investment throughout the country.
I sincerely appreciate both Administrator Wheeler and Secretary Carson making the time to visit our community at my invitation. I hope these visits will continue the great partnerships I have forged with the Trump Administration to tackle issues affecting our communities, and I look forward to continuing to work together.
Richard Hudson represents North Carolina’s 8th District, which covers Cabarrus and other counties.