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    Letters to the Editor

    COMMUNITY VIEW: Protect waters while we can

    Everyone is familiar with Benjamin Franklin’s timeless adage, “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”
    Most would agree with the sensibility of living by such a philosophy. Yet when it comes to saving our environment, it seems many American policymakers are often too worried about short-term costs and stopgap solutions rather than addressing the core of the problem.

    This strategy misses the reality that it is much easier to damage the environment than it is to fix it and that there are tangible, long-term costs for all members of society if the environment is not adequately protected.

    That is why Virginians must support the Waters of the United States Rule. The Waters of the United States Rule was proposed by the EPA last spring to close loopholes in the Clean Water Act, after Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006 left in limbo the status of many streams and wetlands previously protected under the act – 28,000 miles of streams and wetlands in Virginia alone.

    The rule is a crucial step in working to prevent the degradation of waterways like our beloved Chesapeake Bay, the Potomac River and to protect our nation’s precious natural resources for future generations.
    Unfortunately, Virginia’s House of Delegates has already passed a dangerous resolution which proclaims Virginia’s “opposition to the proposed rule regarding the Clean Water Act definition of ‘waters of the United States.’”

    There are many reasons why the HJ666 Resolution is imprudent and we must support the passage of the Waters of the United States rule, not the least of which is science.

    The HJ 666 Resolution and attacks against Waters of the U.S. rely on the false claims that “the justification for the proposed rule rests on scientific analysis that is still under review.”

    In fact, the rule is based upon incontrovertible, peer-reviewed science. Last month the EPA released its final report titled Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands to Downstream Waters: A Review and Synthesis of the Scientific Evidence, which consulted 1,200 peer-reviewed publications and came to the conclusion that the health and quality of downstream waterways and river systems is closely tied to the headwater streams and wetlands that feed the system.

    The evidence is clear: the quality and health of Virginia’s precious waterways will suffer if the 28,000 miles of streams and wetlands across the state which currently lack sound federal protections are allowed to remain at risk of unchecked pollution.

    In addition to denying these facts, opponents of the rule also fall back on the claim that the economic impact of a clarified Clean Water Act would be too great. However, Ben Franklin’s words are perhaps nowhere more applicable than when considering waterway protections from an economic standpoint. While the HJ 666 resolution cites the potential for increased costs or regulatory requirements to justify opposition to the rule, the consequences of not passing such a rule could be far worse in the long term.

    Virginia’s economy is inextricably dependent on the health and viability of its natural resources. From its billion-dollar outdoor recreation industry to its breweries and vineyards, nearly all local businesses rely on clean water either directly or indirectly for their survival. One study in the Ecological Economics Journal estimates that Virginia alone has enjoyed nearly $16 billion in economic benefits from the introduction of the Clean Water Act in 1972.

    While damage can be done quickly, it is difficult and extremely costly to undo. Any potential increased regulatory costs would be more than offset by the benefits of protecting Virginia’s waterways. The rule is set to protect the streams and wetlands that flow into the drinking water of over 2 million Virginians.

    We need only look to Dan River Coal Ash Spill or the Elk River catastrophe last year to see the far-reaching damage pollution can have on the health and economy of our community.

    The HJ 666 resolution is misguided and short-sighted. We must look beyond potential short-term costs to consider the true cost-benefit analysis associated with protecting our waterways. We must act boldly against the specter of environmental degradation and start by supporting the Waters of the United States Rule.

    Jack Braun

    Environment Virginia

    What’s in a name? A trademark fight

    My wife and I have started the renovation of a restaurant space in the Lansdowne Town Center and placed a small sign in the window announcing the name of the place, the approximate date of opening and contact information. Innocent enough?

    We were contacted by the Loudoun Times-Mirror and they photographed the sign in the window plus gave us a few paragraphs in their publication. I will not mention the now former name of our restaurant, but we received a rather nasty email from a law firm in Minnesota the very next day, stating that our incorporated name was a trademark violation and that they were filing a case in federal district court against us.

    The name of the Minnesota operation that threatened us had the name of our restaurant in one word instead of the two that we were using. Trademark law is written so vague and open ended (thanks Congress and all your lobbyist cronies) that anyone can take you to court for seemingly any supposed affront to a registered trademark no matter how long of a reasonable stretch it may seem.

    If you go up against a publicly traded operation, they will deep-pocket pursue you until you are left drained of all your resourcing and forced to close. We dissolved our name and started a new incorporation process. Lucky for us, we had not put up any exterior signage, printed any menus, etched any glasses or labeled a single napkin. It would have destroyed the entire operation before it began.

    We know what Old Ox Brewery is going through with their trademark battle with Red Bull and hopefully they will win the fight. The tactic is to file and cause motion after motion and then finally go to trial, with every activity being responded to by your legal team. The bills skyrocket and exponentiate until you are drained of all funds and then you have to pay for damages and the opposing side’s court costs.

    It’s a dangerous gamble and it’s easier to withdraw and fight another day with your hard-earned business intact, versus pushing all your chips forward and perhaps losing everything in the process. Not cowardice, just business sense. Pride costs money.

    We wish Old Ox Brewery good luck in their fight. One must think this a lawyer’s dream that the offensive side gets to earn money and the defense gets to earn money all while pursing a perceived trademark infringement? These fights can last years with filings and then appeals all at maybe $500.00 - $1000.00 an hour? Shakespeare was right.

    Jim Marotta

    Blu Vino Rifugio Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar, Leesburg

    Residents willing to pay for quality education

    As ‘budget’ season arrives to these supervisors and citizens of Loudoun, public discussion concerning what constitutes high quality public services and how to fund them takes center stage.

    As the owner of a modest three-bedroom townhome in Leesburg, I have again followed the Board of Supervisors and School Board’s budget deliberations carefully, and the overwhelming theme emerging from the voices of thousands of our residents is; Loudoun citizens expect the quality of public education that a fully funded school budget provides – and they are willing to pay for it.

    In May 2013 Loudoun County Public Schools commenced a “Community Priorities Survey” administered online by the research firm K12 Insight, and it was completed by over 10,000 Loudoun residents. The analysis of the survey results clearly showed responders desire for “reductions in student to teacher ratios” (smaller class sizes) and “incentives to recruit and retain new teachers” (top compensation to attract top educators).
    Oddly enough, 83 percent of responders answered “no” to the question “Is transportation a concern?” Of the 17 percent that answered “yes,” ‘lengthy bus ride times and unsafe walking zone distances’ were cited as the reason for their answer.

    In January 2014 LCPS commenced another “Community Priorities Survey” again administered online by K12 Insight, and completed by over 10,000 responders in Loudoun.

    This survey revealed that 53 percent of responders recommended more funding to lower class sizes, 76 percent recommended more funding for salaries that attract and retain the best employees and 60 percent recommended maintaining current funding levels for extracurricular programs (no cuts to art, music, athletics or drama). 
    The survey also revealed that 70 percent recommend maintaining or increasing funding levels for parent liasons, technology assistants, school social workers and nurses, academic and behavioral support services (otherwise known as middle school deans), school guidance counselors and career center assistants.

    Simply put; Loudoun citizens expect class sizes to get smaller along with top teacher salaries to put the best educators in classrooms, and they don’t want it paid for with cuts to other components of their child’s education.

      In January, Loudoun Supervisor’s Chairman Scott York conducted his own online “School Budget & Taxes Survey”, which netted over 2,900 responders. The chairman’s survey revealed that 78 percent of responders support a modest tax increase to fully fund the School Board’s adopted budget. These survey results echo the sentiments of hundreds of speakers at School Board and Board of Supervisors public input sessions.

    The citizens of Loudoun support the needs based budget adopted by the School Board, and they accept the levels of taxation needed to fully fund it. As I have shared in previous letters, there is never a more important time than budget adoption, for our local elected leaders to be ‘listeners’ to the citizens of the community they serve.

    Carl Mackey

    Leesburg

    Politics, indiscretions and the context of a tweet

    The way of water: It flows with tenacity to just resolution

    Middleburg Charter School directors challenge report of teacher exodus

    COMMUNITY VIEW: Human trafficking is problem in NOVA

    COMMUNITY VIEW: Legislation helps utilities, not ratepayers

    COMMUNITY VIEW: Helicopters add third dimension to property rights

    Dear Loudoun family: find a good tax accountant

    For retirees, problem is worse

    OpEd: Budget season madness

    A favorite place changes

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