Shuck and Jive

Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tennessee Mountains Lose to Greed

This is not good news.  The senate (including my own senator, Rusty Crowe) did not step up and save our mountains from greed and short-sightedness.    The fight is not over.   The vote is delayed until April 2nd and in the meantime the house will consider a similar proposal.   It is time for all Tennesseans to contact our representatives.  This is from Dawn Coppock of LEAF:
Dear Caretakers for Creation,

After all your e-mails and calls for, “no decoys, no delays”, the TN Senate voted to delay a vote on the Tennessee Scenic Vistas Protection Act until April 2, instead of just passing the bill tonight. Likely, the opponents’ strategy is to kill the bill in the House committee before April 2 and avoid a vote on the substance of the bill altogether.

Those voting to delay were:

Senators Beavers, Bell, Campfield, Crowe, Faulk, Gresham, Johnson, Kelsey, Ketron, Massey, McNally, Norris, Overbey, Ramsey, Southerland, Summerville, Tracy, Watson and Yager.

Standing against delay were:

Senators Barnes, Berke, Burks, Finney, Ford, Harper, Haynes, Henry, Herron, Kyle, Marrero, Roberts, Stewart and Tate.

The hero of the day was our sponsor, Senator Eric Stewart. Senator Stewart gave a wonderful speech. If you missed it live, watch it on the video. (Go to the March 12, 2012, 5:00 session and then click on SB 577) We hope to get a copy of the text to post on TNLEAF.ORG in the next day or two.

E-mail Senator Stewart ( and tell him how proud we are to have such an eloquent and passionate spokesperson.

Let’s stop and count our blessings:

  1. A serious bill to end MTR reached the floor of a state legislature for the first time ever 
  2. That bill was primarily drafted and championed by Christians
  3. If it had gotten to a vote, the vote would have been too close to call 
  4. An impassioned speech was made on the floor of the Tennessee State Senate giving voice to stewardship concerns and giving voice to the mountains 
  5. We are not dead yet.
The primary focus for the next 2 weeks is the House Environment Committee. If you act fast you can send paper letters or notes. (But telephone calls and e-mails are also great.) Please continue your contacts, this time to the House Conservation & Environment Committee. You may find the committee information at:
Ask all the members of the committee to pass the "Tennessee Scenic Vistas Protection Act." If we get it out of the House Committee, things don’t look to bad on the floor of the Tennessee House. It is still possible, and given the stakes, we must keep at it, so long as there is hope.
Thank you for your prayers. Please keep those up. Those advocating tonight have to begin in the House in the morning. While the vote was disappointing, the response from all of you lifted us up. It sure would be nice for us to sit in the House Committee waiting rooms tomorrow as your calls flood in.
With gratitude,
Dawn Coppock
Legislative Director, LEAF
The majority of our senators could not summon the courage and decency to prevent this:

Zeb Mountain, Tennessee

It appears they need a little more tender persuasion.

In the meantime, Carol Landis, of the Green Interfaith Network sent this:
I'm really excited to share some big news with you! We have invited the Senators and Representatives who serve NE Tennessee to join us at our March 18th meeting (Munsey United Methodist Church, 4-6 p.m.) to discuss their positions on SB 577, the TN Scenic Vistas Protection Act that will be heard before the full Senate on Monday afternoon! Because of our distinguished guests and the timeliness of the topic, we will not hold our usual business meeting on March 18th

We'll begin our discussion with our guests promptly at 4:00. So please come a little early to network, mingle, and munch before we begin.

This is a tremendous opportunity to hear our legislators' perspectives on the issue of mountaintop removal coal mining and for us to express your values as well. So I'm asking another personal favor:  would you please do everything you can to help boost attendance at this meeting? Please mention it to your other groups, offer to carpool, and/or "bring a friend (or 3)". 

We are praying that the original language of SB 577 will be restored and that it will be passed on to the House for further consideration on Monday afternoon. I've attached a "flyer" that I hope you will download, print, and post everywhere around our area.

Thanks for all you've done. I hope to see you (and some of your friends) on the 18th!
Carol is my guest on Religion For Life this Thursday at 8 pm on WETS and again Sunday at 2 pm.


  1. HI John -- All I can offer is courage in the struggle.

    The problem with opposition to MTR, as I see it, is the apparent focus on "Vistas" not environmental impact. Nobody cares about "the view." We are making the same mistake here locally in Gerrardstown, where the State has ignored protests against strip mining of our local North Mountain.

    Here, the emphasis has been on ruining the view, not the fact (and it is a fact) that our watershed which is part of the Chesapeake Bay is in jeopardy; also local water tests have proven that the strip mine will pollute our water supply.

    The state doesn't care about that either. Mining trumps everything in Appalachia -- and the "view shed" is the least important, IMHO.

    We need to come up with a more forceful argument. Otherwise, money wins.

  2. Hey Sea,

    Those fighting for mountains are fighting from every angle. MTR is devastating to the economy (ie. tourism), environment, lives of people, you name it. The money that wins is money spent by coal companies to elect our legislators. Tennesseans do not want this and it is happening under the radar. We are finally getting to the point of getting these bills out of committee.

  3. The good news is that coal provides less and less of our electricity, so what our legislators are too gutless to prevent, we can hope the "free market" will prevent.

    Anyone in the TVA area who despairs of our beautiful mountains being turned into a moonscape can do their part by purchasing green energy credits every month and using less electricity overall. Those who can afford it might consider adding a solar system, either grid-fed or off-grid.

    Not everyone can do everything, but everyone can do something: raising or lowering the thermostat with the seasons, caulking around windows and ductwork, using CFL lightbulbs, even lowering your blinds during the days in summer to keep the sun out. These small steps make a huge difference.