Can You Still Sing Rocky Top,

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

2 thoughts

  1. I think your Ron Lollar number is incorrect. I called every single office. There was only one Rep. who became angry with me and the “way I presented this issue,” and that was Art Swann. The rest really appreciated the insight. Mr. Swann literally asked me if I was threatening him with the idea of talking with his constituents about his vote. I made certain he understood it was not a threat, it was a warning and that I am a man of my word, and that if he was a man of God’s word, he’ll vote to protect those beautiful mountains. He said that was about all he can’t take and was ending this call.

    Every single other office was as pleasant as can be. I basically told each office I support the bills and feel like there isn’t an industry on this planet that could convince me they can put those mountains back together with the same perfection and majesty as our Father in Heaven. There are no short term interest that benefit the few that would ever change my mind, and that I hope the Representative feels the same ways, reads Genesis and looks at their grand babies before deciding if they’ll vote to protect God’s creation or to protect the energy interests of a few Big Coal execs. I told them Kentucky and West Virginia have some pictures to share with them that shows the full context of this industry’s lies while the industry might show them a slice of a photo and asked them to ask themselves why the industry can’t bear to show the full picture of what they’ve done to God’s creation. I also told them we’ve got $2 billion in private investments creating real jobs around the future’s real energy source that’s been there since Chapter one of Genesis slapping us in the face everytime we walk from our car to our legislative offices, and that’s the sun. INVEST IN THAT.

    I got a lot of good responses and promises of support, and one encouragement to please call every member with that message… which I did. I sure hope your readers did the same.

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