Letter to the Editor: Environment, businesses and education: are they compatible?

Letter to the Editor: Environment, businesses and education: are they compatible?

To the editor:

It was Richard Nixon who, on Dec. 2, 1970, proposed the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency. Just before that, President Lyndon Johnson had declared the Potomac River a national disgrace due to its high level of contamination.
Nowadays controversies surround the EPA – not only because of the leadership at the agency level – but because of an overall mandate to cut regulations down to 1960s levels (in other words, to the times of President Johnson).

This, along with a host of other issues, means that it’s up to the states and localities to enact policies that can strike a balance between economic development and environmental
initiatives. In doing so we should aim to not only help the environment but ultimately protect our community from harmful contaminants. Nowadays we sometimes take water quality and safety for granted, but that doesn’t mean the challenges have gone away. Many problems require an out of the box thought process.

As the federal government has pledged to return to the level of regulations of the 1960s and have appointed an EPA administrator who has already begun shrinking the agency’s role in protecting our lives, what are we doing in Alexandria to help avoid another “national disgrace” on how we handle our environment?

What can we do as citizens to help reverse the trend of scientifically proven climate change and help our own wellbeing? What is city council doing to strike a balance in all of this while juggling an extensive list of priorities in the budget and the community?

Education has a key role to make sure we are pushing forward on the latest trends for energy and water processing and conservation. Academic curriculums must reflect practical solutions that feed on one another for the betterment of our community. Green buildings must be accompanied by a holistic approach to help foster a more environmentally aware generation. 

As we celebrate Earth Day, we should be cognizant not only of our environment but of those initiatives that are helping to keep our community safe and prosperous. That is why, as young professionals, the largest growing
segment in the city, we want to make sure these questions are front and center to those who are running for office. Earth Day allows us to spark these conversations in the hopes of fostering long-term proposals to be translated into action.

Ultimately it is up to us, as citizens of the City of Alexandria, to move the needle forward toward a more sustainable community.

-Ricardo Alfaro, president, Alexandria Young Democrats