Mar 27 2011

Can You Still Sing Rocky Top,

Posted by Steve Ross in State Politics

When All the Rocks on Top are Gone?

Just because it isn't happening in your backyard now, doesn't mean it couldn't

That’s a question folks on the east side of Tennessee have been asking themselves for a long long time. While surface mining may not dominate the landscape as it does in Kentucky and West Virginia, there are a few sites here, and the potential for quite a few more as the image to the right shows. Thankfully, for a long time legislators have been loathe to loosen state regulations on the practice, which has saved countless mountains from basically having their heads shaved.

Sure, there have been other bills in the past, like the drink more selenium bill that comes up like acne on a teenager just about every year, but most of those have fallen by the wayside too. With the change in leadership, and the huge shift in the balance of power in the State House, the fate of bad bills like the selenium bill was very much in question.

For the most part, this legislative session this year has been a disaster. As Tennesseans struggle to make ends meet in an economy that’s making it harder and harder, many legislators in Nashville are spending their time on frivolous legislation. There was an unconstitutional anti-sharia law, a bill that requires Presidential Candidates provide a long-form birth certificate even though the sponsor didn’t know what one was, and a bill that would have Tennessee issue its own currency, a violation of Federal Law.

Yep, some of these guys have been busy, just not on doing anything that might help you. So when there is a diamond in this rough, it’s a sight to behold.

Behold, SB0577/HB0291 sponsored by Sen. Eric Stewart and Rep. Michael McDonald.

This bill would stop any new surface mining operations in the state of Tennessee that are 2000 ft above sea level. There are other provisions and you can read them all here. The thing is, this would actually do something for people by ensuring that one of our natural resources isn’t squandered, and that our most precious natural resource, water, isn’t made undrinkable in the process.

The bill comes before State House and Senate Committees this week, and will likely have an unfriendly presentation from a coal industry group in at least one committee.

Give all the members a call, an email, or show up to the meeting and tell them how you feel. Here’s how you can:

House Conservation and Environment Committee

Conservation Subcommittee – Tuesday, March 29th, 10:30am, Room HHR30

David Hawk – Phone (615) 741-7482 – email
Ron Lollar – Phone (615) 741-7084 – email
Richard Floyd – Phone (615) 741-2746 – email
Sheila Butt – Phone: (615) 741-3005 – email
Charles Curtiss – Phone (615) 741-1963 – email
Brenda Gilmore – Phone (615) 741-1997 – email
Andy Holt – Phone (615) 741-7847 – email
Mike Kernell – Phone (615) 741-3726 – email
Pat Marsh – Phone (615) 741-6824 – email
Michael McDonald – Phone (615) 741-1980 – email
Frank Nicely – Phone (615) 741-4419 – email
Art Swann – Phone (615) 741-5481 – email
John Tidwell – Phone (615) 741-7098 – email