To the Editor:
As Western North Carolina strives to attract more businesses into this area, a major selling point is the natural beauty of our mountains. Not only does this incredible natural resource promote a high quality of life, but it also draws millions of tourists every year. Our magnificent forests and pristine waters lure visitors from all over the world for activities such as hiking, whitewater rafting, fishing, canoeing, and sightseeing. These visitors shop in our stores, stay in our hotels, eat in our restaurants, and visit our attractions. According to the North Carolina Department of Commerce, domestic travelers to Western North Carolina spent $18.4 billion here in 2011, a record high visitor-spending figure, and their expenditures directly supported 187,900 jobs for North Carolina residents.
One might expect that any action that would adversely affect this highly desirable natural resource would draw the swift condemnation of our local and state governments. After all, who supports unhealthy air, dirty water, and contaminated soil? Who wants to kill the goose that lays our golden eggs?
Surprisingly, there appears to be a significant number of legislators who have not made the connection between clean air, clean water, and good jobs. The General Assembly’s focus on rolling back the environmental regulations designed to protect our air and water is short-sighted in the extreme. Slashing clean water funds and weakening the state air-toxic standards for power plants and paper mills does not create jobs; it only creates problems for the citizens that these legislators are supposed to represent.
We all understand that not caring for our bodies can lead to expensive, long-term health problems. Not caring for our natural environment can also create costly and possibly permanent damages. Degrading the air we breathe and the water we drink causes health problems among our citizens, adversely affects our vitally-important tourism industry and lowers the overall quality of life. No matter which economic area you examine, all benefit from a healthy and beautiful natural environment. We need to let our legislators know that we value our precious natural heritage.
Neva Duncan Tabb