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Bill Boots VA Citizens from Government Decisions?

January 4, 2008

Richmond, VA – Many Virginians think state government would kick off the New Year on the wrong foot by booting citizen environmental boards. A strong turnout is expected at a public hearing today on a bill that would strip authority from these boards, which help decide how much pollution businesses and industry will be allowed to generate.

Sallie Sebrell with the Virginia Conservation Network says the boards help keep decisions from being tainted by politics, and they should keep their power.

"One of the things that citizen boards do is they offer checks and balances to control pollutants being spewed up into the air, or released into our water."

The public hearing on HB 3113 is at 3 p.m. in the General Assembly Building, House Room D.

Sebrell believes you don't have to be a "tree-hugger" to be alarmed that citizen input on pollution could be curtailed.

"This is such an important issue for our human health, for our wildlife, that you have a say as to what pollutants are going into our air."

The bill would give sole authority to the director of the Department of Environmental Quality, who is a political appointee. A similar proposal last year was defeated.

Deborah Smith/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - VA