GOVERNOR COOPER JOINS ENVIRONMENTALISTS IN CRITICIZING EPA GENX PLAN: Environmental groups roundly criticized a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plan on toxic chemicals like GenX on Thursday, saying it doesn't go nearly far or fast enough to address threats to health and water. Gov. Roy Cooper complained about the plan as well, saying the U.S. government's ballyhooed action plan lacked important detail and a commitment to setting standards on chemicals made in North Carolina and found in drinking water along the Cape Fear River. The EPA's plan, Cooper said in a statement, "seems to ignore the urgency of the problem." Environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, the Southern Environmental Law Center and Food & Water Watch, agreed. The Environmental Working Group said the plan would allow more pollution, not less, and called President Donald Trump "the nation's first pro-cancer president."
NC MAYORS SOUND OFF ON ICE RAIDS: In a letter written by Durham Mayor Steve Schewel and signed by six other mayors, they called for the end to Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids. “The ICE raids have struck terror in the hearts of many of our valued community members. They have broken apart families, separating parents from their children,” the letter says. Along with Schewel, others who signed the letter are Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer, Burlington Mayor Ian Baltutis, Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle, Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger, Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan and Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin. “We cannot stop ICE from operating in our cities, but we can and must speak out against these raids which destabilize neighborhoods, traumatize children, hurt many innocent people, and create distrust of law enforcement. The negative collateral consequences of these raids on our cities is enormous,” the letter says.
ON PARKLAND ANNIVERSARY, NC HOUSE DEMS FILE GUN CONTROL OMNIBUS: Gun-control advocates in the North Carolina legislature are pressing again for weapon restrictions they say will reduce the risk of mass shootings and other firearm violence. Several House Democrats filed omnibus gun-safety legislation on Thursday, the one-year anniversary of the school shootings in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead. The measure would require background checks for all gun sales, beef up the safe-storage law and prohibit people under 21 from owning assault-style weapons. It also would ban high-capacity magazines, let local governments set their own gun regulations and require gun owners to carry firearm liability insurance. First-term Democratic Rep. Christy Clark of Mecklenburg County, a former state leader for the Moms Demand Action gun-control group and a primary bill co-sponsor, said the legislation is a first step toward addressing gun violence she calls a "public health crisis."
SHUTDOWN AVERTED, BUT TRUMP WILL DECLARE NATIONAL EMERGENCY TO BUILD WALL: President Trump will declare a national emergency as early as Friday to bypass Congress and build his long-promised wall along the nation’s southwestern border even as he agreed to sign a spending package that does not finance it, White House officials said Thursday. The announcement came just minutes before voting began on the spending measure, which then cleared both houses, ending a two-month war of attrition that closed much of the federal government for 35 days and threatened a second shutdown on Friday. The Senate passed it 83 to 16, and the House followed later in the evening, 300 to 128. But if he declares a national emergency to access billions of dollars for his wall, Mr. Trump could instigate a constitutional clash over who controls the federal purse and test the bounds of presidential authority in a time of divided government. Democrats and some Republicans instantly condemned the move, with some vowing to challenge it through legislation and lawsuits.
TRUMP ON THE VERGE OF LEVYING TARIFFS ON IMPORTED AUTOMOBILES AND PARTS: By Sunday, Trump's Commerce Department is expected to issue an opinion on whether auto imports endanger U.S. national security enough to justify such import taxes. Trump would then have 90 days to decide whether to impose them. The department could decide to postpone its conclusion. Or it could just hand its recommendations to Trump without making them public. The tariffs could have far-reaching consequences — on the companies that make cars, often with imported parts; on the dealerships that sell them; and on the consumers who buy them. U.S. imports of passenger vehicles and auto parts amounted to $340 billion in 2017. If 25 percent tariffs were imposed on imported parts and vehicles, including from Canada and Mexico, the price of imported vehicles would jump more than 17 percent, or an average of around $5,000 each, according to IHS Markit. Even the prices of vehicles made in the U.S. would rise by about 5 percent, or $1,800, because all use some imported parts.