Delay Tactics #EndMTR – Updated

Update: Please contact the members of the House Environment committee and tell them you support the Scenic Vistas Protection Act.

Contacts to the House Environment Committee:
House Environment Committee E-Mails – Email contactsPhone Numbers via TNLEAF

Tennessee General Assembly – House Environment Committee Link

Original Post follows…

(Zeb Mountain, Tennessee / photo by Chris Irwin, United Mountain Defense)
As reported by the AP, yesterday the Tennessee State Senate delayed a vote on Scenic Vistas Protection Act, sponsored by Senator Eric Stewart – Belvedere.

The bill, which has been buried for the past five years was delayed once again in an attempt to kill it, despite claims by the Senate Majority Leader to the contrary.

In fact, they’re trying to do it on the anniversary of successfully killing it last year. I’m sure its just a coincidence.

Coal mining in Tennessee isn’t one of our core industries. In fact, Tennessee ranks 21st in the nation in coal production (25 states produce none, meaning there are only 4 states in the US that produce less). There are fewer than 650 people employed in the coal industry in Tennessee. These individuals typically operate specialized equipment or have specialized explosives expertise. In short, opening up the coal industry in Tennessee isn’t going to produce any real jobs.

In fact, while Tennessee was producing the greatest amount of coal in its history, jobs were being cut due to increased mechanization. This was 1972. I guarantee it hasn’t gotten any better, despite the empty rhetoric of Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey.

Last week, a Senate committee voted to gut the bill with an amendment. This week they’ve sought to delay that gutted bill until April 2. The GOP leadership in the Senate is terrified of having a vote recorded in the full Senate on this measure. I seriously doubt there will be any vote on it April 2nd either.

That said, if you want to see this bill passed, I suggest you make plans to be in Nashville on April 2nd. We need to fill the Senate gallery to overflowing, and make a show of support for this bill. And if they try to delay it again, we need to make sure they know we’re not happy about it.

Barring any bill schedule changes, I’m planning to be there. Hopefully you will too.

So why does a guy in Memphis, hundreds of miles away from the affected mountains care about this bill? Because even though its not in my backyard, it impacts me. If water quality suffers in East and Middle TN, then the health of folks in those areas suffer. Legislators intent on reducing water quality standards will use water quality levels in other areas to lower the standards here, which means we’ll have more undesirable things in our water. It’s a downward spiral that I don’t want to happen to anyone. Not here in Memphis, or Monteagle, or Mountain City.

Tak a moment to call or write every one of these State Senators. Tell them you support the Scenic Vistas Protection Act, that you’re upset that the bill was watered down in committee, and that you’re going to be there April 2nd to make sure they do the right thing: restore the original language, and pass the bill.

Getting this done is going to take a show of strength. I hope you’ll take a little time out of your day this week, and make plans to be in Nashville on the 2nd.

For more information check out TN LEAF or NRDC.

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