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Local Small Business Owners Urge Senators in Washington to Put the Health and Safety of Tennesseans First

Revelations of Statewide Water Contamination Prove Necessity for Clean Water and Air Protections

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – On a statewide press call, small business owners in Nashville, Monteagle, and Memphis called on Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker to prioritize the health of Tennessee communities so their business can continue to thrive. Speakers addressed the dangers of 23 violations in state drinking water standards, how they benefit from Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grants, and the consequences of EPA budget cuts.

Jess Wilson, who owns and operates Summer Field Farms and In Town Organics in Monteagle, said, “In all my time farming and talking and working with other farmers, I have never had a small farmer tell me that their biggest challenge was an EPA regulation.  Small rural communities succeed when they are places where people want to be–and having clean air and water is a crucial part of creating an environment where people want to live and raise their families. If politicians insist on cutting funding for the EPA they need to acknowledge that they are doing it on behalf of industries and large agribusiness, and not on behalf of small farms in Tennessee.”

Another small business owner, Peter Calvet, added that small business owners are, “alarmed at the prospect of an increase in polluted air and dirtier water down the road”, and questions whether Tennesseans have an understanding of how EPA helps keep our communities clean and healthy.  Calvet continued, “Significant cuts at the EPA mean fewer resources for states like ours and that is a direct threat to our health and communities across the country. Who in their right mind would be against clean air and water?”  Calvet lives in Memphis and owns Fantasy Flora.

Erika Burnett, founder and principal of The Burnett Group, based in Nashville, pointed out that Tennessee benefits from federal EPA grants to support monitoring and quality testing for its public water systems – $3.8 million over the past five years.  “This is the type of state-level assistance that goes on the chopping block when President Trump proposes a federal budget that attempts to cut EPA funding by 30 percent – including reductions to the offices responsible for enforcing these safe water protections, limiting their human capital and capacity”, Burnett said.  “Given the recent contamination risks posed to people’s drinking water across the state, Tennessee cannot afford a budget that makes it harder to detect when violations are made in the future and more harmful toxins spill into our public waters.  There is economic value that comes from investing in federal environmental safety and public health programs. It is often challenging, and nearly impossible, to build a successful business when communities are plagued by toxic pollution and dirty water. This is why small business owners like myself are calling on Congress to pass a budget that fully funds the EPA with the resources it needs to fulfill its mission to keep our environment safe.”

The Trump Administration’s FY 2018 budget proposed to reduce the EPA’s budget by 30 percent. According to a recent analysis, such significant cuts could turn back the clock on the progress Tennessee has made to improve the health of its communities, its environment, and its economy.