The greatest form of government is the one closest to the people

Articles in print and online share the results of the “listening sessions” that Sen. David Rouzer and Rep. Roger West participated in as intended for the N.C. Joint Committee on Regulatory Reform [“Green Scene: On the Chopping Block,” May 4 Xpress].

I attended the Flat Rock session and presented comments as requested. I shared with Sen. Rouzer that I believed the gathering was a fake display of intent, as he had clearly expressed in the past that he felt that “the number one threat to economic prosperity is environmental law.” He smiled and did not refute this quote. Soon after the listening session, I called Rep. West to discuss the news of eliminating staff at the Asheville Regional office of the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

He told me that he wants to “light a fire under the butts of DENR,” that he believes reducing positions from approximately 90 to 37 in the Asheville office will make the permitting process go faster. With less people he expressed that it should make them “think twice” and “go faster.”

If North Carolina legislators succeed in cutting the Department of Environment and Natural Resources positions, I want my state tax money back. I will happily give that money to the Buncombe County government so they can develop local ordinances, map landslide activity and protect our health and safety. History has demonstrated that economic prosperity is directly linked to environmental improvements. The French Broad River is an example as it was a sewer in 1957 before the 1970 Clean Water Act.

Now over 300 industry permits have been granted to discharge waste; numerous recreational businesses use the river and it is now, thanks to improvements, a drinking water source to over 1 million people. As a local radio talk show host has said before, the greatest form of government is the one closest to the people. In this case it is the county government and not the state.

— Phillip Ray Gibson


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