Thursday, January 12, 2012

Pass the Tennessee Scenic Vistas Protection Act---Call these Legislators!

For years, many Tennesseans have been trying to get our legislature to pass a simple bill that would preserve part of our state's beauty and health, which are under attack from corporate privateers and the elected officials who represent them over residents of Tennessee.

The Tennessee Scenic Vistas Protection Act is a straightforward bill that says mountaintop removal coal mining is prohibited for any elevations in Tennessee above 2,000 feet.

The Republicans in control of the state Senate and House are poised again to kill this bill, which has been around the legislature with no luck for a few years now. This bill is so innocuous, so inoffensive that only narrow, corporate interests oppose it; contrary to how Republicans want to talk about "job killing," mountaintop strip mining actually requires very few employees to operate the equipment. 

To make this a jobs-vs.-environment argument is baseless.

The State of Tennessee actually subsidizes the coal companies to the tune of more than $1 million a year, which far surpasses any economic impact of mountaintop removal and which should be cut off.  From the few meager jobs that involve Tennessee residents working on mountain top peel-away, the economic benefit to the state is way less than the coal industry subsidy. Let's quit subsidizing an industry that is not a good, patriotic corporate citizen and that abuses the privilege they have been given in pursuit of only bottom line, and the public be damned.  

 As if blowing up mountains, destroying habitat and making the state ugly were not enough, the worst human destruction in all of this is perpetrated upon people who live near these sites and their sludge pools of waste, and whose drinking water gets ruined and whose homes become uninhabitable and unsalable.

 The coal industry is losing market share to natural gas, and they are desperate to cherry-pick the cheapest, easiest way to get at coal deposits in order to regain a competitive foothold. This bill gives them a free pass up to 2,000 feet of rise above sea level---is 2,000 feet not enough for the coal companies?

Tennessee has only a handful of ravaged mountaintops at this point; but, Tennessee has been targeted.  The coal companies are poised to move in as they have in other states where blown-away mountaintops number in the hundreds.

Tennesseans value the beauty of our state as do the visitors we attract.  Our moral leaning to protect nature rises like the Appalachian range---dwarfing any rationale for scarring up our lands and lives. 

Contact information for the TN Senators and Representatives who are on the environmental committees and a text of the bill may be found by clicking this link: 

Tell them: "Pass the Tennessee Scenic Vistas Protection Act--This Time!"

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