State may become first to ban high-altitude mountaintop removal mining
Tennessee mountains -- Image courtesy of EarthFirst
A bipartisan bill is coming up for a vote in the Tennessee state legislature tomorrow (Feb. 29) that would ban surface mining and mountaintop removal mining at altitudes above 2,000 feet in the state.
This legislation would ensure that the most scenic vistas are protected for residents and visitors instead of being razed.
The Tennessee Senate’s Energy and Environment Committee will vote on the bill, determining whether it makes its way to the whole state’s senate for full floor vote.If it passes, this will be the first and only mountaintop removal mining ban in any state in the U.S., setting a precedent for other Appalachian states and citizens who are coping with this abominable type of coal mining.
This TV commercial, which has been airing on networks across Tennessee, expresses why this bill must pass:
In Tennessee, we love our mountains. We hunt, we fish, we hike, and we embrace the God-given beauty that surrounds. But, today, our proud mountains are under assualt. Mountaintop removal mining has destroyed over 500 mountains, 2,000 miles of streams, and tens of thousands of mining jobs across Appalachia. Now it’s happening in Tennessee, but we can stop it. Support the Tennessee Scenic Vistas Protection Act.
On Sunday, the Knoxville News Sentinel’s Editorial Board put forth even more reasons to pass this bill and save Tennessee’s mountains:
Coal mining used to be an important industry in Tennessee, but mechanization has caused the work force to dwindle to the point that only a few hundred jobs remain. Tourism, on the other hand, is worth more than $15 billion to the state's economy, and Tennessee's mountains are a big attraction. Hikers, hunters, horseback riders, anglers and others enjoy Tennessee's mountains and valleys. Coal mining has already harmed the mountains. Some streams are polluted and there are areas pockmarked from poor reclamation practices in the past … Protecting the integrity of the mountains is a key to Tennessee's future… [we] implore state lawmakers to pass the Tennessee Scenic Vistas Protection Act.
If you are a resident of Tennessee, if you have family or friends in Tennessee, if you love to travel to Tennessee, if you ever plan to visit Tennessee and appreciate its mountains, if you care about the people living near these mountaintop removal mining sites and dealing with the health impacts, or if you think Tennessee’s mountains should be there for future generations to visit or enjoy, now is the time to take action and do everything in your power to make sure this bill passes.
Please sign this petition and call your TN State Senator (1-800-449-8366) and TN Governor Haslam (615-741-2001) and urge them to pass the Tennessee Scenic Vistas Protection Act.