To the editor:
Thanks for stepping up the Journal-World's coverage of environmental issues in our Kansas River watershed. I especially appreciate Peter Hancock's concise, aggressive reporting about clean water.
Hancock recently told us about Gov. Graves' effort to encourage Kaw Basin landowners to plant riparian areas with vegetation that cuts soil erosion and filters chemical pollutants. This initiative encourages me to believe Kansas is taking more seriously its duties to safeguard the water we all depend on.
But it often seems that one positive step forward immediately triggers backsliding two or more steps. Hancock's reporting has also shown the beef industry's lobby pressuring Kansas Department of Health and Environment to rewrite a stream-protection handbook. And the Farm Bureau seems determined, one way or another, to hamstring KDHE's and local governments' efforts to keep groundwater aquifers free of pollution and overuse.
That's why we should applaud the recent lawsuit filed by the Kansas Natural Resources Council under the federal Clean Water Act. KNRC is simply trying to get Kansas and the federal Environmental Protection Agency, which oversees KDHE's water-quality duties, to follow the law. Given KNRC's past record of success, all of us should keep our state government on its toes.
If we don't like litigation as a tool to keep our environment healthy, then we should insist that our elected officials obey the laws that keep us safe.