Attacks on environmental safeguards pose threats to air, water, communities and special places
The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC), the largest environmental advocacy organization dedicated to protecting the Southeast, released its fifth annual list of the top 10 places in the South that face immediate, potentially irreparable, threats in 2013.
According to Nat Mund, SELC's legislative director, the chief threat to the South's natural treasures this year is a combination of economic and political challenges in addition to a vigorous crusade by anti-environmentalists in Congress and state legislatures to weaken environmental laws and enforcement.
"There's absolutely no reason why we have to choose between a healthy environment and a healthy economy—in fact, the two go hand-in-hand," Mund said. "History shows that investing in clean water, healthy air and clean energy can create jobs and save money—and lives—in the long run. And yet, many of the South's natural treasures are at stake because of short-sighted attempts to weaken environmental safeguards under the guise of fiscal responsibility."
Energy issues are also a major theme on this year's list. "How we power our homes and businesses will determine the fate of many of the South's special places," Mund said. "SELC is advocating a better path toward a clean energy future that includes less destructive ways of extracting resources and greater investment in energy-efficiency and renewables."
The Top 10 Endangered Places list therefore includes four urgent priority projects for SELC's Clean Energy Program: fracking in Alabama's Talladega National Forest, coal ash pollution in South Carolina's Waccamaw River, mountaintop removal coal mining in Virginia and Tennessee, and an intense push to mine uranium in Southside, Virginia.
The following endangered areas were chosen from among hundreds of special places that SELC is defending through its law and policy work in the six states of Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama.
- Talladega National Forest, Alabama
- Metro Atlanta's Water Supply
- Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, North Carolina
- Cape Fear Basin, North Carolina
- Courthouse Creek, North Carolina
- Waccamaw River, South Carolina
- Goforth Creek Canyon, Tennessee
- Virginia and Tennessee's Mountains
- Charlottesville, Virginia
- Southside, Virginia
Click here for more detailed descriptions of each endangered area.