It does not look good to cut jobs; it does not look good to blow up mountains.
This session, the Tennessee Legislative Committees on Conservation and the Environment weigh the spirit and health of the people of Tennessee against a handful of jobs blasting our Tennessee Mountains.
On one side we have the tourist industry and on the other we have a hundred people benefiting from blowing up mountains and high ridges and destroying headwater streams. The State of Tennessee does not benefit economically from this practice.
So, how can it be that for four years this bill has been sitting in committee while the state is invaded by destructive mining practices coming across our borders from West Virginia and Kentucky?
The Scenic Vistas Protection Act when passed will prevent the destruction of ridges over 2000 feet. Most of our coal production is below this mark. The bill does not stop coal mining. This bill stops a few people from destroying the beautiful high ridges and mountains that are our birthright.
If you were born in Daniel Boone’s backyard you might have trouble finding your birthplace: go back and sift through the rubble because they’ve blown up the mountains in Eagan, Tn.
People are concerned about surface mining destroying the beauty of Tennessee. It got lots of press. So, people have a feeling about it. They would like to help make it better.
The people of Tennessee want their elected Legislators on the Conservation and Environment Committees and the Environmental Sub-Committee to feel empowered to act.
So, who is balancing the Spirit of Tennessee against the interests of the Mountain Blasters? Who holds our hopes in their hands? Rep. Richard Floyd of Chattanooga; Rep. John Tidwell of New Johnsonville; Rep. Shelia Butt of Columbia; Rep. Charles Curtiss of Sparta; Rep. Andy Holt of Dresden; Rep. Pat Marsh of Nashville; Rep. Frank Niceley of Strawberry Plains; Rep. Art Swann of Maryville; Rep. Ron Lollar of Bartlett; Rep. David Hawk of Greenville; Sen. Mike Faulk of Church Hill; Sen. Kerry Roberts of Springfield; Sen. Mike Bell of Riceville, and Sen. Jim Summerville of Dickson.
If these Legislators pass this bill out of committee, Mountain Top Removal would be over! That’s O.V.E.R! Ended! Done. A victory for Tennessee!
Jobs? Revenue? Yesterday I was emailed a copy of the report “Coal and Renewables in Central Appalachia, The Impact of Coal on the Tennessee State Budget”. Among its conclusions, it states the following: “Although coal has played an important historical role, the Tennessee coal industry now provides few jobs to state residents, and does not provide significant revenues to the state budget. In fact, as estimated in this report, the industry itself—together with its direct and indirect employees—actually cost Tennessee state taxpayers more than they provide.”
Still think it’s an economic issue? This report explains why there is no economic benefit to Tennessee: (http://www.downstreamstrategies.com/documents/reports_publication/DownstreamStrategies-coalTN.pdf)
Meanwhile, Tennessee, keep your eyes on your Legislators as they weigh in on this one. Many are in support of this Act. Pray that these few who feel uncertain will answer the call of their constituents.
UTC Professor of Speech