Vote to name the state’s worst polluter

I love Arkansas – the diverse climate, the trees, the streams and the people. I don’t mind being called a schoolboy (as if that’s a bad name) for being active in various environmental causes.

Even after losing 90% of its wetlands and nearly all of its rainforest, Arkansas is still a wonderfully natural state. It’s because thousands of other Arkansawyers have worked tirelessly to preserve, enhance and restore our natural heritage. I am proud to be part of this group.

We should do what we can to improve what we have left. Most improvements to our state’s quality of life, such as protecting our air, water, and forests, are not accomplished with the stroke of a pen by a government agency to create a park, but through the sustained efforts of individuals who come together to make it happen. .

Let me highlight a great example of how a perceived danger to one of the state’s great treasures, the National Buffalo River, was eliminated. An industrial pig farm, accommodating up to 6,500 pigs, has been established on the river’s watershed. He escaped the permitting process, but after the farm went into operation, the specter of possible river pollution sparked a flood of protests across the state, demanding the hog farm be removed.

Pressure from newspaper columnists and thousands of citizens shut down the pig farm. It happened because the people of our state demanded it, and the commissioners and politicians responded.

With that in mind, I propose naming an Arkansas Polluter of the Year to recognize the people, businesses, and other entities that reduce our quality of life. Unless polluters are called out, regulations are enforced and changes are made, polluters will continue to pollute.

When I was commissioner at the State Department of Environmental Quality, I pointed out to my fellow commissioners that part of our job was like walking into a rundown house at night, turning on a bright light, and looking cockroaches scatter.

Will being voted polluter of the year in our fair state change some negative practices? I believe this will help, and one action added to others will gradually improve our environment. You eat an elephant one bite at a time.

Anything that you think harms the quality of life in Arkansas can be nominated – a business, individual, group, animal, or action that you think is the biggest source of pollution is a candidate for the title of polluter of the year. Nominees are limited to Arkansas businesses, individuals and animals. I disqualify myself as a voter, nominator, or recipient of the award, but anyone can do or be both.

Examples: There is a lot of roadside trash because pickup trucks with uncovered trash in their truck beds allow the trash to blow away. “Waste in open-bed vans” could be named polluter of the year. Another could be wild pigs. A friend who lives near the Ouachita River in eastern Union County said she saw a feral sow followed by 19 piglets walk past her home. “Feral hogs” could be nominated.

Or if you think any state senator, representative, or elected official is worthy of the title, nominate him or her, or the entire legislature. And there’s a certain creek in Union County that’s dead like a bag of hammers because of a company dumping sewage into the creek. That would be a possible candidate, along with coal-fired power plants.

Here’s how we’re going to get to name Arkansas Polluter of the Year. What’s more American than voting? As of the publication of this column today, the ballot box – my email below – will be opened. You can be brief and enter a name or reason, but try to be specific. After checking my emails at 10 a.m. on Tuesday (March 15), I will nominate the top of the list as polluter of the year and the next four as runners-up.

This is your chance to let off some steam and name your biggest polluter. You have until Tuesday 10am. Let the voting begin!

Richard Mason is an author and speaker. He can be reached at [email protected]

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