Last week the Sound Rivers Board sent a join letter to the Governor, NC DEQ Secretary Michael Regan, and Attorney General Josh Stein:
February 21 2020
Dear Governor Cooper, Secretary Regan, and Attorney General Stein:
Sound Rivers (SRI) is a non-profit organization that works to guard the health and natural beauty of both the Neuse and Tar-Pamlico River Basins. As one of the oldest conservation organizations in the state, we represent more than 2500 members, many of whom work, live, recreate, fish, swim in and obtain their drinking water from the Neuse and Tar-Pamlico River basins. SRI partners with concerned citizens to monitor, protect, restore, and preserve these watersheds, which cover 23% or 12,000 square miles of North Carolina, in order to provide clean water to our communities for consumption, recreation, nature preservation, economic, and agricultural use.
We are grateful for your administration’s support in fighting for strong clean water protections, including your actions taken last April to provide strong, science based comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers (COE) regarding the Waters of the US rule. We also applaud your leadership on tackling the negative impacts of a changing climate.
In light of the EPA and COE recently announced plan to strip protections for thousands of miles of streams and more than a million acres of wetlands in North Carolina, we urge you to take legal action; an action that you noted in your attached April 18, 2019 response letter you were willing to take.
The new “waters of the United States” definition takes away protections that have been in place for more than 40 years; protections that help keep our water clean, protect public health and reduce the risk of flooding. The rule removes protections for many wetlands that are vital to the safety of Eastern Carolina communities, as threats from flooding and severe storms worsen with climate change. At a time when our rivers are threatened from pollution and development, we need more protection, not less.
Our Board of Directors includes 14 individuals that live in central and eastern North Carolina communities. We come from varied professional and cultural backgrounds and political views, but we all agree that protection of our state’s wetlands and water resources is of upmost priority for the current and future health of North Carolina’s people and the economy. Many ofus, including our family and friends, were directly impacted by flooding caused by HurricanesMatthew and Florence. We all recognize that EPA’s proposal to eliminate protections for small streams and wetlands would result in greater flooding, putting our communities at a much greater risk in the future.
This letter is to ask you and your administration to take legal action on the “Waters of the US” rule and to prevent the implementation of the changes in North Carolina.
The Board of Sound Rivers, Inc.
Members listed below:
JoSeth Bocook, President, Tarboro, NC
Jim Kellenberger, Vice-President, Raleigh / Oriental, NC
Bill Hunneke, Treasurer, Greenville, NC
Mary Davidson, Secretary, New Bern, NC
Dr. Ernie Larkin, Washington, NC
Stephen Smith, Raleigh, NC
David Emmerling, Greenville, NC
Veronica Butcher, Raleigh, NC
Catherine Kastleman, Durham, NC
Emilie Kane, Greenville, NC
Adrian Atkinson, Winterville, NC
Ann Marie Holder, Greenville, NC
Dr. Lorrie Basnight, Greenville, NC
Betsy Hester, Rocky Mount, NC