Thursday, January 30, 2014

Valuing water access

The National Resources Defense Council is a legal organization, not an economic one, but our work overlaps quite a bit. We won't get into valuation in this class, but when economists try to put price tags on environmental commodities they have to talk to people who use them. The NRDC is apparently trying to do this in order to add pressure on the Maryland DoE to get them to in turn pressure Baltimore to improve their storm drainage system. I got this email today:

Dear Mr. Manley,
 
NRDC is working on an important legal challenge to keep the Chesapeake Bay and the rivers and streams of Maryland clean and unpolluted. We hope you can help us.
 
When NRDC litigates, we need to show that we have Members who will be better off if NRDC prevails in the proceeding.  In this particular case, we are planning to challenge the Maryland Department of the Environment’s approval of a new water pollution permit for the Baltimore City storm sewer system. This is the system whose pipes carry polluted stormwater runoff from streets, buildings, and other hard surfaces directly into local waterways without any treatment.
 
We are contacting you because you live within the area that is affected by the operation of the county’s storm sewer system, and your enjoyment of local water bodies may be harmed or threatened if the county is allowed to continue polluting under its new permit.
 
If you spend time fishing, swimming, or otherwise recreating in the Baltimore Harbor or Patapsco River or any other water bodies within the county, your participation would be very helpful. All we would need from you is a statement, which we would help you prepare, explaining where you live, your activities, and your concerns about how runoff pollution from the county storm sewer system diminishes your enjoyment of local waterways.
 
NRDC would file your statement in court along with others, but you would NOT become a party to the lawsuit.  If you decide to participate, an attorney from NRDC will interview you over the phone, write up a statement based on the interview, and get it to you for your signature. 
 
Please consider taking a few minutes to help us with this litigation.  If you think you can assist us, please reply to this email. 
 
And thanks, as always, for your Membership in NRDC.
 
Best regards,
 
Linda Lopez
Director of Membership
Natural Resources Defense Council

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