Wednesday, April 29, 2009

TN Republican Majority = Polluted Water

Thank you, Tennessee Republican Party. Your fawning love of all things industry and all things money, as exemplified by this gift-wrapped present to the National Coal Company at the expense of the health of Tennessee’s environment and people, is truly stunning.

As the national Republican Party finds itself deeper in political exile, it’s refreshing to see one group of stalwarts bravely forging ahead with the same industry-friendly policies that have been rejected by the rest of the country. Truly this portends a bold new future for Tennessee as the Southern backwater we’ve always said we are not.

To wit:
The blasting that is part of mountain top mining exposes mineral called selenium which can contaminate nearby streams. 

In high levels selenium can kill fish and is toxic to people.

Last summer environmental groups did testing in streams around Zeb Mountain and discovered selenium levels well above state limits.

Environmental groups filed the lawsuit against National Coal last summer.

The lawsuit claims National Coal's own tests found selenium levels eight to twenty times higher than the state allows.

The lawsuit seeks more than $32,000 in penalties for each day the company releases high levels of selenium.

At the start of this legislative session coal industry lobbyists started pushing an unusual bill. 

It would raise allowable levels of selenium in Tennessee streams.

Shocking!!! So just to recap: National Coal Company pollutes East Tennessee streams with selenium, environmental groups sue, and the Tennessee Republican Party’s solution is to raise state limits of selenium. Prest-o bing-o problem solved!

Well, that’s one way to make coal “clean”! And what was it I said yesterday about hidden government subsidies to the coal industry?

Not surprisingly, the measure has already passed the Tennessee senate.

It’s ironic, but not surprising, that this is happening at a time when our Democratic Governor is trying to make Tennessee a center for solar energy development.

Everyone with a brain knows the economic future is in clean, renewable energy technology. But the Tennessee Republican Party is sticking to its guns and catering to the tired, old, polluting technologies of the past. Good to know that when the energy revolution happens, Tennessee will once again be dead last.