Environment West Virginia Politics WV Elections 2024

#164-Interview with Daniel Lutz-Candidate for Supervisor-Eastern Panhandle Conservation District

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Discussing Danny’s Candidacy and Background
Richard and Danny had an introductory discussion about Danny’s candidacy for a third term as a nonpartisan Conservation District Supervisor in Jefferson County and for the Eastern Panhandle Conservation District. They discussed the importance of informing the public about Danny’s background and values, despite his unopposed status in the race. Danny was set to answer questions regarding his stance and purposes.

West Virginia Conservation Agency’s Role in Preserving Resources
Danny stressed the importance of the West Virginia Conservation Agency in preserving the state’s natural resources, particularly its water and soil. He discussed the agency’s role in mitigating soil erosion. Unfortunately, the agencies offer to help in the evaluation and review of the impact of solar compounds on farmland has not been heeded by Jefferson County officials. He also highlighted the issue of sediment pollution in the Shenandoah River, caused especially by Virginia and affecting the Chesapeake Bay due to high levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Danny noted that only West Virginia and the District of Columbia have met the 2025 macro contaminant reduction guidelines, while Virginia, Maryland, New York, and Pennsylvania have not. He suggested that solar farm installations, which are obligated to prevent soil runoff, are a significant contributor to this issue and that it would be the responsibility of county agencies and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection to address any erosion.

Environmental Issues and Local Delegates
Danny and Richard discussed environmental issues concerning the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Environmental Protection. Two complaints filed last year regarding soil conservation issues had not been mitigated, and there seemed to be no action against the perpetrators. They also discussed the Blake Solar Farm’s exemption from the local storm water ordinance, which should not be the case, as Danny pointed out. The situation is complicated by a proposal in the House of Delegates to allow the state to override all local zoning ordinances, which Richard and Danny both criticized. They identified two local delegates, Wayne Clark and Paul Espino, as the sponsors of this problematic bill.

Farmland Conservation Challenges in Jefferson County
Richard and Danny discussed the challenges of conserving farmland in Jefferson County. Danny explained that farming is almost extinct in the region, with the number of operating dairies dropping from 212 in 1978 to just one currently. The primary reason for this is the high value of land for commercial and residential development, which is often more profitable than agriculture. Danny further highlighted the high cost of equipment and the low margin involved in farming, making it difficult for young people to enter the industry.

Modern Farming Challenges and Opportunities
Richard and Danny discussed the challenges and opportunities in modern farming. Danny shared his experience of passing his farmland to a younger relative, highlighting the importance of mentorship and cooperation. They also discussed the struggles of new farmers entering the field due to high costs and a lack of support. Richard raised questions about the role of the Conservation District supervisor in county planning processes, especially regarding issues like runoff.

Solar Farm Proposal and Site Suitability
Richard and Danny discussed the suitability of the Blake Solar Farm site, given its hilly terrain and potential need for extensive grading, which has lead to erosion and has contributed to making the land unsuitable for farming in the future. Danny explained that the solar farm would likely only be useful for about 20 years before needing to be replaced or abandoned, and the land would not be suitable for farming afterwards due to the depletion of nutrients and the need for significant reconstruction.

County Supervisor Roles and Farm Bill
Richard and Danny discussed the roles of the County Conservation District Supervisor in the planning process, with Danny expressing frustration about being ignored by the Board of Planning. They also talked about the work of youth groups like FFA and 4H, which Danny confirmed are still active and relevant despite some outdated links on their website. Lastly, they discussed the pending farm bill and its potential impact on funding and policies, with Danny emphasizing the importance of clean water and reducing pollution.

Carbon Credit Program Proposal in WV
Danny proposed a carbon credit program in West Virginia where each resident would receive a certain number of credits each year which they could buy from others to discharge anything into the soil, air, or water. The program would fund an exchange and conservation, with the remaining income going to the sellers. Richard acknowledged the need to care for the soil and water, suggesting a potential revision of Jefferson County’s zoning plan.

Danny’s Personal Experience and Conservation Discussion
Danny shared his personal experience of living through the “silent spring” described by Rachel Carson, highlighting the eventual return of birds to the area after a period of extinction. He also mentioned his recent re-reading of “Night Comes to the Cumberlands,” a book he was required to read in high school.

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