Although a bill to protect Tennessee’s mountains received broad citizen and political support — and media attention from around the world — state legislators chose to deny public testimony on the measure and instead let the Scenic Vistas Protection Act die without a vote. Appalachian Voices Tennessee Director J.W. Randolph worked long hours in the halls of the state legislature to introduce and promote the bill, and was scheduled to testify along with Ann League, a good friend of our organization and a resident in Tennessee’s coal-bearing region. Just as they were called up to speak, however, the chairman stopped them short and declared the bill dead. Bill sponsors Rep. Gloria Johnson (D-Knoxville) and Senator Lowe Finney (D-Jackson) vowed to continue to build on this year’s efforts and bring the bill back in 2014 with even more grassroots support. To stay up-to-date on our work in Tennessee, visit appvoices.org/tn.
The Red, White and Water team is working to find out what residents living around coal-fired power plants have to say about water pollution in their communities.
Belmont, N.C., was the first stop. There, as with other coal-burning facilities, the G.G. Allen Steam Station contaminates the groundwater, usually from coal ash pond seepage. The plant also discharges toxic heavy metals into nearby Lake Wylie.
This March, our crew canvassed those living in the shadow of the G.G. Allen Plant. One resident, Archie Dixon, has a driveway that is stained with coal ash and keeps a stack of bottled water in his garage, saying he refuses to drink the well water.
Looking ahead, the RWW team will encourage more residents living near coal plants to tell their stories. Follow the latest at appvoices.org/red-white-and-water.