To have a truly prosperous state, we must also ensure a healthy environment. In many cases economic development depends on environmental conservation. I am particularly concerned about protection of our water resources. No one wants to live near polluted streams or with the threat of flash flooding. Wise development includes generous stream buffers, greenways and conservation areas that moderate and cleanse water flows. This sort of planning actually increases property values by lowering the costs for storm water management and flood mitigation.

Our entire region is struggling with the threat of water shortages and massive costs associated with cleaning up our reservoirs in order to have potable water. These are the unintended negative consequences of allowing piecemeal development without having good regional governance that balances economic and environmental needs. Seeing a $1.65 million price tag for Jordan Lake cleanup should make even the most pro-growth among us understand that we have to find a better balance.

We can balance social, environmental, and economic goals by being thoughtful about how we seek growth and development. Every day we are seeing advances in sustainable development that protects our communities from environmental degradation. Part of that is having goals for watershed protection and sticking to those goals by finding development partners who respect the environment and have track records to indicate such. It also means holding those development partners accountable. This complementary approach requires a regional vision rather than piecemeal decision making. If this is done right then our children and future generations will have both clean water and a prosperous community.

The current legislature seems too comfortable experimenting with our environment, including through their support of fracking. Under current conditions, hydraulic fracturing is a clear threat to North Carolina’s environment and water supply. The Republicans in our General Assembly have colluded with wealthy corporate interests that have no interest in the long-term safety of our drinking water. The risk of polluting our groundwater is far too high to justify fracking’s roughshod implementation.

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