State officials held two public hearings — one on Jan. 26 in Waynesville and the other the day before in Newport, Tenn. — to address whether there’s a need for stricter regulations on the North Carolina Division of Water Quality’s permit for Canton-based Blue Ridge Paper. About 400 people attended the Newport hearing and about 150 attended the one at Tuscola High School in Waynesville. The citizen voices for stricter federal regulation were strong and clear, say representatives of the nonprofit Clean Water for North Carolina. Stricter federal regulation would place tighter standards on the mill’s paper-pulp emissions into the river, improving water quality for people and wildlife downstream of the mill, members of the group argue.
Originally set to expire on Jan. 26, the comment period for the permit has been extended until Thursday, Feb. 25.
According to CWFNC and such groups as the WNC Alliance, it’s essential to river health that more stringent regulations be implemented, and allowing the current permit to stand could stall future cleanup on the river.
To take advantage of this extended comment period, contact Dina.firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Additional information on pollution in the Pigeon River includes:
— Robin Criscuolo