As [Rappahannock County Republican Committee Chairman Evelyn M.] Kerr pointed out in her letter last week, it appears that there was a typo in Ms. [Mary-Sherman] Willis’ March 9 letter regarding Congressman [Tom] Garrett’s vote against the “Clean Streams” rule. The bill to repeal the Clean Streams Rule was H Res. 70 (not 7). Ms. Willis rightly pointed out that Mr. Garrett voted for it. Here is a letter I wrote to Garrett regarding his votes on Clean Streams in the beginning of February. I have not received any response from his offices:
“Dear Representative Garrett, I am very disappointed that you voted Yes on both HJ Res. 38 and H Res 70 to overturn the Stream Protection Rule. As one of your constituents in rural Rappahannock County, I rely on clean water for my livelihood as a farmer. The future of our rural communities depends on clean ground water; the many of us who drink from wells, who grow up swimming in our creeks and streams, and who irrigate food crops using surface water have the right to safe water. Our waterways are the foundation of a healthy ecosystem, and water is one of our most precious natural resources. Our county’s economy depends on tourism, and our relatively pristine streams are one of the important draws to Rappahannock. Putting greater value on the few who would profit by contaminating our streams over the health, safety, and well-being of the many families and small businesses is misguided and is not in the best interest of your constituents. I and many other conservation-minded members of your district are watching your House career and we are not impressed with your record so far.”
The repeal of the Clean Streams Rule was the very first legislation to be put before the 2017 Congress, on President Trump’s Inauguration Day. The Obama Administration rule, which extended water protections to the types of smaller waterways we have in our community, was strenuously lobbied against by Trump Golf Courses in 2015. Now, President Trump’s businesses will directly financially benefit from the repeal of the rule, which he himself has signed into Law.
This is one of many examples of conflict of interest in the Trump administration so far, and Rep. Garrett has been happy to oblige the President without question. He toes the line against environmental protection and for the short-term gain of big industry, especially the oil and gas industry. Mr. Garrett receives lots of campaign dollars from the fossil fuel industry, who stand to gain, but the majority of his constituents, and all who rely on clean waterways, are the big losers. Contaminated groundwater fundamentally degrades our health, and is too high a price to pay for any short term gain he might claim.
The rush to roll back Environmental Protections by this administration has been staggering, and there is more to come, under the pretense that attacking our natural world will somehow create jobs (sadly, I fear that many said jobs will be in the medical profession, caring for a sicker population down the road). Rep. Garrett, in this paper, has claimed to love Rappahannock for its natural beauty. His claim rings hollow; the environment doesn’t even get a mention as an issue on his website.
On a second point, Ms. Kerr should know that Tom Garrett cancelled his March 13th Town Hall over two weeks ago. (Ms. Johnson’s letter in the March 9th paper referred to this). According to a March 1 posting on Rep. Garrett’s website, the meeting is now set for 6:30 p.m. March 31 at Garrett Hall at the University of Virginia’s Batten School. “135 tickets will be evenly allotted as follows: 45 will go to Batten School Students with priority to those who live in the 5th District; 45 will go to the local Republican Committee; 45 will go to the local Democrat Committee.” Apparently, independents, which I think most of us truly are, need not apply.