SELC Op-ed: Clean water is big business for western North Carolina

This week SELC Attorney Patrick Hunter reminded Asheville-area residents of the important connections between the region's vast, beloved outdoor playground and the clean water that flows through it, with an op-ed in the Asheville Citizen-Times. That clean water is protected by the Clean Water Act, a key federal law the Trump administration is looking to undermine. Soon, a public comment period on the proposal to dismantle important Clean Water Act protections will open, providing citizens the opportunity to tell federal officials how crucial clean water is to our communities. 

Below is an excerpt of the piece. Read the full op-ed here.

The Clean Water Act has held polluters accountable for more than 40 years. It rightfully ensured that pollution control costs were borne by the polluter, at the point where pollution enters the water. The Trump administration’s proposal would shift the cost of that pollution downstream. Polluters might save some money by avoiding pollution controls in streams no longer protected by the Clean Water Act, but the cost of more polluted water would ultimately fall on the public. Poorer water quality requires more expensive treatment at water treatment plants, with the cost passed on to customers through their utility bills; makes rivers less safe for swimming and paddling; leaves fewer streams supporting trout populations, fewer anglers pursuing those trout, reduced economic benefits, and fewer jobs created.

Get out on our lakes and rivers this summer and enjoy the opportunities afforded by our abundance of clean water. But let’s not forget where we came from — that our water wasn’t always so clean. We cannot sacrifice the benefits the Clean Water Act has given us for the last four decades so that big-time polluters can boost profits by eliminating pollution controls.

When the public comment period opens on the Trump administration’s plans to dismantle the Clean Water Act, citizens will have a chance to tell the administration that clean water matters, so speak up on behalf of these fundamental protections to safeguard the streams, wetlands, rivers and lakes we depend on for drinking water, fishing, hunting and recreation. Then, crack open a Pisgah Pale Ale and remember that when it comes to protecting headwater streams and wetlands, “we all drink downstream.”

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