As a lifelong environmental advocate, environmental scientist and educator, I was surprised to see that if I had my way “we would live in lean-tos and wear loincloths,” according to DENR Secretary John Skvarla (“Leader to orient DENR toward economy,” Aug. 20 Under the Dome). That the head of the main environmental agency in state government would say such a thing, even as a joke, is most disturbing.
I can recall when there was little or no environmental regulation and the many serious problems that went unchecked. The National Environmental Policy Act and other environmental legislation at the national, state and local levels now provide us a fairly decent, though far from pristine, environment in which to thrive thanks to environmental advocates.
Pushing the idea that we can have either a thriving economy or a clean environment is a tired, old argument that I thought had been settled years ago. Evidently, it has not. We cannot afford to treat economics and environmental issues as “either/or” issues.
“Environmental advocates” continue to be essential players in developing a true pro-business model that is good for all residents of North Carolina.
Don W. Stephenson
Faculty emeritus, retired, Johnston Community College, Clayton