Cooper stops in Wilmington, talks coal ash & GOP decision-making - WNCN: News, Weather

Cooper stops in Wilmington, talks coal ash & GOP decision-making

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Attorney General Roy Cooper spoke in Wilmington Wednesday night about environmental issues threatening North Carolina's clean air and water Attorney General Roy Cooper spoke in Wilmington Wednesday night about environmental issues threatening North Carolina's clean air and water
WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) -

Roy Cooper has not yet officially announced that he plans to run for Governor of North Carolina in 2016. But, he sounded like a candidate during a stop in Wilmington on Wednesday night. The four-term Attorney General talked to local leaders at an event hosted by local members of the North Carolina League of Conservation Voters.

Cooper said he expects his office to deal with litigation regarding cleanup of the coal ash that spilled into the Dan River from a Duke Energy plant in Eden. Cooper warned that decisions made by the Republican-led General Assembly and Governor Pat McCrory could lead to similar incidents.

"What you saw this Governor and this General Assembly do last session was essentially eliminate many safeguards that protect our water, reduce the number of people that do those inspections, change the environmental and management commission," said Cooper during an interview before he addressed the group in Downtown Wilmington. "These kind of things we can expect more of in the future, if we don't go back and take another look at those decisions and make sure we're making the right ones for the people of North Carolina."

When pressed to clarify whether he was blaming GOP leaders for the coal ash spill, Cooper offered an explanation. "That may have happened, but what I am saying is these are the kinds of things that potentially we can expect down the road if we don't have the safe guards in place," Cooper said. "I think it's a perfect example of what can happen if you aren't diligent, if you don't have the safeguards in place, and if you don't have the people who make sure they inspect and keep our water safe."

Cooper told reporters he is still talking with people across North Carolina about making a run for Governor in 2016. He did not put any timetable on the possibility of any announcement. Cooper insisted he can still be an effective Attorney General, even though he has made many appearances across the state talking about issues such as the environment and raising teacher salaries. Cooper has also been critical of McCrory and the General Assembly, when they have passed and signed new laws he sees as detrimental to the state.

"It's true that the North Carolina Legislature and the Governor have signed legislation that I disagree with," Cooper said when addressing the issue of being able to effectively defend the state against lawsuits, even if he personally opposes the law. "There are a number of areas where we've made changes in our laws that I don't think are good for North Carolina. But it is the duty of the Attorney General of North Carolina to defend the state when it gets sued in court. I'm going to continue to do my job. But, I'm also a policy maker, and I will continue to urge that changes be made and I'm going to advocate for legislation. But our attorneys are going to continue to do their job in court, and they have done that and done it well."

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