Front Porch Blog

Congressman Wolf, Cosponsor the Clean Water Protection Act

[Friends, we are fortunate today to share the voices of two of the leading advocates for Virginia’s mountains; Kathy Selvage of Wise County and Parson Brown, Director of the Topless America Project. Kathy and Parson join us today in unison to ask Congressman Frank Wolf to continue his cosponsorship of the bipartisan Clean Water Protection Act (HR 1375). Congressman Wolf is a northern Virginia Republican, who has previously cosponsored the CWPA, and who voted with Appalachian Voices against all four bad amendments to the budget bill passed by the House earlier this year. Kathy and Parson, thank you for sharing your voice with us, and please encourage your friends in Northern Virginia to contact Congressman Wolf’s office TODAY! – jw]

Dear Parson and Friends in the 10th District of the Commonwealth of Virginia,

Please encourage your Representative Frank Wolf to return to the fold and proclaim that he has regard for the integrity of water once again by being a co-sponsor on the Clean Water Protection Act in the 112th Congress. I know that you and colleagues in the 10th love mountains and clean water as much as we do in the 9th District; please share that with Representative Wolf to encourage him to be a co-sponsor once again.

Parson, we were proud to have this picture taken with Rep. Wolf in 2010 when he affirmed his commitment to clean water for all Virginians even those tucked in the far southwestern corner where we mine coal and have sacrificed greatly for the energy needs of this country. But we also live with 300 million + year old mountains that willingly give drinking water to many eastern cities of the United States, and have a rich treasure of great biological diversity (plant and animal) that is admired by the entire world.

Those who live in the ancient, wise mountains of southwest Virginia are daily confronting the ravages of mountaintop removal that decapitates our mountains for the coal beneath them and then heaps the waste, their remains, into our stream beds and upon our watersheds.

No matter how we feel about the extraction process of coal, we must understand the full benefits of another of our most precious resources—water. The very requirements for the sustaining of human life—namely, relatively clean water and clean air—are being destroyed daily in southwest Virginia. How can this be, I often ask myself.

We cannot stand for and should not tolerate the desecration of our most precious resource — water. Nature provided us with an abundant supply of water but we have squandered the use of it through waste and contamination. We can no longer afford to do this! We do not want to have to explain to our grandchildren one day that we were concerned about energy production and the economy when they have no safe water to drink.

Parson, please have all our friends in the 10th District contact Representative Wolf and ask him to reaffirm his commitment to clean water by again becoming a co-sponsor on the bill in the House. Tell him all Virginians must unite and stand together for the protection of our most valuable resource, water.

Kathy Selvage

Dear Congressman Wolf,

I grew up along the banks of the Shenandoah River in Front Royal, Virginia. The historic Blue Ridge Mountains are my home. Our town has been named Tree City U.S.A., the Canoe Capital of Virginia, and gateway to the renowned Skyline Drive. In the Shenandoah Valley our mountains and river are part of our culture and our spirit. It is without doubt that my upbringing in Virginia’s 10th District has led me to oppose the highly destructive practice of mountaintop removal coal extraction which is destroying the land, heritage, and health of communities in central and southern Appalachia.

The Clean Water Protection Act would prohibit mining waste, including toxic chemicals, heavy metals, and other pollutants from being dumped into national waterways, and restore the original intent of the Clean Water Act. Passage of the bill would not only make the practice of mountaintop removal illegal, but would also protect sources of drinking water everywhere in the United States. After five years of support you are no longer co-sponsoring the Clean Water Protection Act. What changed?

When I first learned about mountaintop removal I was outraged and began to lobby for an end to the process. As your constituent I was truly impressed and grateful—I never had to question your integrity on the matter. This allowed me the opportunity to advocate for the Appalachian Mountains and for clean water with many of your colleagues representing other regions of the country. I cannot tell you how many times I have boasted of my Shenandoah Valley roots and my well-respected Republican congressman who was one of the first to take a
stance in support of the Clean Water Protection Act. My only visits to your office have been to introduce you to other proud constituents and thankful residents. People like Kathy Selvage from southwestern Virginia, who live with leveled landscapes and undrinkable water. Every time I have visited your office I have been genuinely appreciative.

In March of this year, I noticed that you had not yet joined the list of returning Clean Water Protection Act co-sponsors. I tried to set up appointments with your office to no avail. I stopped by with a handful of fellow constituents, hoping to briefly express our thanks, as well as
a friendly reminder that you had not renewed your co-sponsorship of the bill. Several weeks elapsed into several months. I made numerous attempts to contact you in regard to this matter. I have yet to hear anything from your office in response to my inquiries. I am at a loss. What has changed?

Being a native Appalachian I feel compelled, if not obligated, to spread awareness of this issue. I have worked hard to advance the Clean Water Protection Act along with similar legislative measures. The injustice of decimated homelands and poisoned water is something that I simply cannot ignore. I have literally watched heroes such as West Virginian activist, Judy Bonds, die trying to pass this legislation. After five years of co-sponsorship, I know my friend Judy would want me to ask—why have you chosen to abandon us now?

The Commonwealth of Virginia’s 10th District hosts many diverse opinions. I believe that the majority of constituents would disagree with your decision not to continue as a co-sponsor of the Clean Water Protection Act. Although we may not all always see eye-to-eye on every issue, we share some very basic qualities. We are Appalachians. We are lovers of the mountains which are our home. Most importantly, we all require clean drinking water to survive. Have you become so disconnected from the mountains and the people who inhabit them that you
would step aside and allow for their destruction? If you are willing to turn a blind eye to the contamination of a universally shared natural resource like water, then perhaps you are no longer the right person to represent us. But, if upon further consideration, you change your decision and continue your co-sponsorship of the Clean Water Protection Act, I believe your constituents will admire you—as will all Virginians and citizens throughout the Appalachian region.

It takes a courageous person to not waiver and to be firm in their principles even when under extreme pressure. I strongly encourage you to reinstate your co-sponsorship of the Clean Water Protection Act.

Jarred “Parson Brown” Hill
Director, The Topless America Project




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