By Dan Perlmutter

Thanks to all of you for attending last night’s [April 9, 2018] meeting. MY TWO CENTS WORTH – Here are some observations about what may be useful for the Jackson County Democratic Party going into the 2018 election cycle.

Money for greening up our county – 92 million available from VW for North Carolina can be used for updating transportation i.e. using energy efficient vehicles or energy efficient engines in vehicles. The county should be going after some of this money for “greener” transportation as in school buses, city or county vehicles.

More money or in-kind value for greening up our county – old wood stove replacement for newer models as a complete or partial cost compensation. County support for Forest Service – additional employee (or intern) to be supported in part by county government to the tune of 40% of his or her salary. Emerald Ash Borer has to be held in check from entering our county though Ash trees make up only a small percentage of our forests.

 Positive results in air quality – North Carolina has shown a trend in the reduction of ground level ozone with positive health results and the reduction in suspended particulates that has also improved health and resulted in better visibility in our mountains. This would be an argument for maintaining support for the EPA in both national policy and support for state and regional monitoring. Make a point of saying that North Carolina has more than met Air Quality Standards primarily with replacement of coal-burning power generation with methane fueled power generation. Essentially methane burns cleaner than coal. (However be aware that methane by itself is a greenhouse gas that is 23 time worse compared to carbon dioxide in term of climate change)

Positive results in water quality – straight-piping of human waste has a very small likelihood of occuring in our county.

Problems in water quality – Apparently the cost of the “emergency response” taken by the Division of Water Resources when they are made aware of serious pollution problems has to be borne by the polluter. So there’s a shortfall in funds immediately available to the emergency response team of the Division of Water Quality based on the process to indemnify the state by the polluter.

Problems in water quality – sediment is the major pollutant of our running water in the county. This is a very visable problem and individuals should accurately report this pollution to the Division of Water Resources at the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) when it is “seen”.

WATR (Watershed Association of the Tuckaseegee River) – is considered a very helpful resource for the agencies involved in environmental protection such as Division of Water Resources of the state’s Department of Environmental Quality. The county should help support this organization given that their sole financial support comes from citizens.

WATR’s impact – Evidently this organization has made progress in getting the county to make “house calls” to pick up hazardouse material. We could continue the momentum to see if pick ups of properly sorted recyclables from homes might be desirable or even practical.

I could continue but it’s late and this fills up a page on this computer. But please put your thinking hats on and add things that you feel would be helpful for our candidates. Let me just leave you with this …..Maybe our candidates could benefit from pushing for a GREENER JACKSON COUNTY.

Brendan Davey, P.E., Regional Supervisor, Division of Air Quality, Asheville Regional Office, NC Dept. of Environmental Quality

Ken Brown, Board of Directors, Watershed Association of the Tuckaseegee River

Paul Pittman, NC Forest Service Jackson County Ranger

Zan (George) Price, P.E., Asst. Regional Supervisor, Asheville Regional Office, Water Quality Regional Operations Section, NCDEQ

(Photography by Diane Jettinghoff)