Conservation Insider Bulletin, April 11

Conservation Insider Bulletin

Published weekly for the Conservation Council of North Carolina
Conservation News to Peruse & Use
Editor: Dan Besse, cib@conservationcouncilnc.org

April 11, 2008

Track "muddy water watch" enforcement examples, consider key clean water legislation, and explore the sinister plot of "greenways", this week in CIB:

--Enforcement Update: Muddy Water Case Study
--Washington Watch: Clean Water Restoration Act
--The Other Side: Greenways, the Communist Plot
Enforcement Update: Muddy Water Case Study

As a part of ongoing citizen enforcement training efforts, the Neuse River Foundation (NRF) and other groups have released "case studies" which show examples of the kinds of problems which occur when sedimentation control laws are not enforced. Recently, this enforcement training effort has looked hard at examples in Cary. Discussion and photos can be found at http://www.muddywaterwatch.org/casestudies.html.

Washington Watch: Clean Water Restoration Act

Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court (in 2001 and 2006) veered away from its earlier broad interpretations of the Clean Water Act, federal protections for critical waters and wetlands have been narrowing. In response, pro-environmental leaders in the U.S. Congress are trying to re-clarify the law to include the earlier broad definition of protected waters.

The resulting legislation is called the Clean Water Restoration Act (S. 1870 and H.R. 2421). Earlier this week, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing on the bill, and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is scheduled to take up the issue next week. In the view of many environmentalists, this is the most important clean water issue to come before Congress in years.

Among the North Carolina Congressional delegation, Reps. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC1), David Price (D-NC4), Mel Watt (D-NC12) and Brad Miller (D-NC13) are co-sponsors of the House version of the bill. (CIB commends these members for their clean water leadership.)

Alas, not all the N.C. representatives are so foresighted. In particular, Rep. Robin Hayes (R-NC8), a member of the House Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, has criticized it. Hayes claims that the bill would compromise the rights of property owners, especially farmers. Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC5) has also been visibly critical of the bill, again citing the usual "property rights" arguments.

As always, the "property rights" arguments elevate the rights of some to dump into public waters, and dismiss the rights of downstream and other impacted neighbors to clean water. Butterfield makes that point in support of the bill when he notes that it only limits actions that adversely impact a neighbor's water.

(Information taken from various published reports.)

The Other Side: Greenways, the Communist Plot

Sometimes the anti-environmentalists' train completely jumps the track of reality. This month the John Lockies are treating us to one of their most bizarre examples: greenways as a communist plot to steal our property rights. (Cue the "Outer Limits" theme music now.)

The Locke Foundation is pushing a "report" attacking the new Neuse River Greenway under development in Raleigh, as an uncompensated invasion of private property rights. Set aside the fact that the neighborhood supposedly "invaded" was advertised as a "greenways community". They assert, without evidence, that greenways devalue property. Odd conclusion, that—especially when a group as "property rights" oriented as the National Association of Realtors has found precisely to the contrary. In fact, proximity to greenways boosts property sale values.

The Lockies' paper is revealed as no more than an ideological tract when it asserts the sweeping claim, also without evidence, "Since greenways are commonly owned public property, they are more susceptible to crime, litter, and degradation than privately owned property." They talk of the alternative benefits of "private greenways" which would be open only to paying customers.

And there we have the truth. This is an outfit of ideologues so extreme that they reject the very premise of public parkland.

So sell off Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Yellowstone, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, and the rest of those publicly-owned eyesores. Who could possibly want to live next to such a set of dumps?

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