Washington and Lee Law student Emily Walters's editorial submission on the impact of sequester cuts won the 2013 Robert R. Merhige, Jr. Environmental Op-Ed Competition.
The competition is sponsored by the University of Richmond School of Law and judged by professors from Richmond and environmental lawyers from the Virginia State Bar. Students from law schools across Virginia made submissions this year focusing on some environmental, energy or natural resource issue.
Walters, a third year law student from Austin, TX, wrote about the impact of the federal sequestration on Virginia's natural resources. In her piece, which was published in The Roanoke Times, Walters highlighted the fact that sequester cuts will result in the loss of $3 million in environmental funding and close to $1 million in fish and wildlife protection grants for Virginia. In analyzing the impact, Walters wrote:
"Environmental funding cuts force National Park Service workers to take furloughs, which means delayed spring opening times, fewer park hours and reduced maintenance of trails. This is a problem for Virginia, which has 22 national parks and enjoys more than 23 million visitors who, in 2011, brought in $541 million to the state. Additionally, cuts to fish and wildlife protection grants will impact the commonwealth's economy; recreational fishing alone brought in $816 million, according to a 2006 survey. Cuts to these grants will decrease the bodies of water stocked with fish, which will cause fewer visitors to buy goods in Virginia."
The entire op-ed, titled "Sequester places Virginia's natural treasures at risk," is available online at Roanoke.com.