Conservative Ad Buy Turning Scenic Vistas Bill into Bipartisan Bombshell
When it comes to Tennessee, most everybody has their reason for supporting our mountains. Whether it is a liberal urban Democrat like Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN), or a mainline Republican like Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), its not a complicated equation.
Now, it turns out, a radically right-wing group in Tennessee – the Tennessee Conservatives Union – has not only come out in support of the Tennessee Scenic Vistas Protection Act, but is planning to run statewide television ads in support of protecting Tennessee’s mountains. This is astounding, to say the least. The Conservatives Union is no small player in Tennessee politics, calling itself the oldest and largest conservative organization in the state. With more than 12,000 members, they are widely credited for defeating the state income tax, among other things. Now they are looking to protect our mountains from, allegedly, a Chinese company that has bought out mineral rights in Tennessee.
Appalachian Voices doesn’t necessarily agree with every sentiment in this advertisement. It doesn’t matter if somebody is from Beijing or Bristol, we don’t think they should be blowing up mountains. We certainly don’t agree with the Conservatives Union on many important issues related to energy and the environment, but the fact that the Tennessee Conservatives Union is stepping up to stop mountaintop removal shows that the breadth of support for protecting Tennessee’s mountains ranges all the way from left-to-right, odd-to-even, and low-to-high.
According to the TN Conservatives Union, this ad will begin airing tomorrow (3/19) on Fox News.
Now is the time for you to pick up the phone and call Committee Members to tell them YOUR reason for supporting the bipartisan Scenic Vistas Protection Act (SB 99/HB 43). The Senate Energy, Agriculture, and Natural Resources Committee will take up the bill first at 9:30 AM on Wednesday. The House Subcommittee on Agriculture and Natural Resources is scheduled to vote at 1:30 the same day.
These committee offices have told us that they are hearing from a LOT of people who are working to protect our mountains, so keep up those calls! Talking points below…
Senate Committee Members:
Chairman Steve Southerland (R-Morristown)/615-741-3851
Mae Beavers (R-Mt Juliet)/ 615-741-2421
Jim Summerville (R-Dickson) / 615-741-4499
Mike Bell (R-Riceville) / 615-741-1946
Charlotte Burks (D-Monterey) / 615-741-3978
Ophelia Ford (D-Memphis) / 615-741-1767
Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga) / 615-741-6682
Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville) / 615-741-2368
Frank Niceley (R-Knoxville) / 615-741-2061
House Committee Members:
Chairman Ron Lollar (R-Bartlett) / 615-741- 7084
Curtis Halford (R-Dyer) / 615-741-7478
Andy Holt (R-Dresden) / 615-741-7847
Judd Matheny (R-Tullahoma) / 615-741-7448
Billy Spivey (R-Franklin) / 615-741-4170
John Tidwell (D-New Johnsonville) / 615-741-7098
Ron Travis (R-Dayton) / 615-741-1450
Brenda Gilmore (D-Nashville) / 615-741-1997 [This is a “Thank you!” as Representative Gilmore is a cosponsor of the Scenic Vistas bill.]
Please pass this along, so that legislators hear from as many Tennesseans as possible. Talking points and bill information below…
What does this bill do?
The Scenic Vistas Protection Act says that you can’t alter or remove a ridgeline above 2,000 feet when surface mining for coal.
What does this bill NOT do?
– Scenic Vistas DOES NOT impact underground mining or other important industries in Tennessee.
– Scenic Vistas DOES NOT Impact any current surface mining permits or their renewals, which are grandfathered in.
– Scenic Vistas DOES NOT impact re-mining.
– As Tennesseans, we love our mountains, and we don’t think we need to blast them apart for a small amount of coal.
– We don’t have to hate coal and we don’t have to hate coal mining to want to protect our mountains. We just want Tennessee to be the first state to say “We’re going to mine coal AND protect our mountaintops at the same time.”
– Since 1985, the Tennessee coal industry has laid off 85 percent of their workforce, while the percentage of our coal coming from surface mining versus underground mining has increased. Scenic Vistas will help protect coal mining jobs in our state.
– Mountaintop removal is bad business, and the coal industry itself is realizing that this destructive form of mining isn’t worth the cost. Patriot Coal, one of the largest coal companies in the nation, recently announced that they are stopping mountaintop removal operations because not only is it damaging to the environment, but it’s bad for their employees and for the communities where they work.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know what the offices are saying!
—–Below is the Tennessee Conservative Union Press Release——
For Immediate Release
Tennessee Conservative Union
Tennessee Conservative Union Launches Campaign to Save Tennessee Mountains from Communist China
(March 18, 2012) The Tennessee Conservative Union, TN’s largest and oldest conservative group with over 12,000 members, announces the launch of a statewide media campaign supporting passage of a ban on mountaintop removal coal mining (MTR.) The 30-second spot features never before seen flyover footage of MTR sites in TN and exposes the fact that TN has become the first state in America to permit a communist Chinese company to destroy our mountains.
Members of the Tennessee General Assembly will be voting this Wednesday, March 20th on a piece of legislation called the “Tennessee Scenic Vistas Protection Act” a ban that would prevent high-elevation surface mining on peaks above 2000’ in Tennessee.
The ad references the fact that for 6 years the state legislature has failed to pass a ban on the destructive practice of mountaintop removal coal mining – a method of coal extraction where the tops of mountains are blasted off by high powered explosives and hauled off by large earth moving equipment.
“The Tennessee Conservative Union is 100% Pro-Coal, but our organization does not support destroying our mountain heritage.” said TCU Chairman Lloyd Daughetry “Mountaintop removal mining kills jobs because it takes fewer workers to blow up a mountain.”
The ad also references reports that Tennessee has become the first state in the US to permit a Chinese owned company to purchase mineral rights and extract TN coal. Triple H Coal Company, based out of Jacksboro, TN was reported to have been acquired by Guizhou Gouchuang Energy Holdings Group on May 7, 2012.
“Every Tennessean, regardless of political affiliation, should be appalled by the idea of allowing the red Chinese to destroy the very mountains crossed by Daniel Boone.” said Daughtery. “We are calling on elected officials of both parties to stand up for Tennessee’s mountains and against the exploitation of our resources by a communist country. Tennessee is a proud red state, but the Tennessee Conservative Union is not willing to go that red.”