March 12, 2012
Today, for the first time in any state legislature, a mountaintop removal mining ban is expected to move to a full floor vote.
The Tennessee Senate will vote this evening on the Scenic Vistas Protection Act, a bill that could protect the state’s ridge lines above 2,000 feet from the destructive practice of mountaintop removal coal mining.
The version of the Scenic Vistas Protection Act that passed in the Senate’s Environment Committee on Feb. 29 included a last-minute amendment, written and seen by only the coal industry, that gutted the original intent of the bill.
Senator Eric Stewart, the bill’s original sponsor, plans to offer the original language of the bill as an amendment when the bill reaches the floor today. Only 17 votes are needed to pass the bill.
“From congregations and campuses, to conservationists and conservatives, to Occupiers and Tea Partiers, the people of Tennessee have spoken with one voice: ‘Restore and pass the Scenic Vistas Protection Act so that no more mountaintops are removed,'” says Appalachian Voices Tennessee Director, J.W. Randolph.
“Last week, again, the coal lobby refused an open invitation to sit down with other stakeholders to talk about crafting a meaningful bill. The poorly written Bell amendment would have zero impact on current mining practices in Tennessee. It’s going to be difficult for Tennessee Senators to look their constituents in the eye and call a bill that does absolutely nothing a ‘compromise.’ The only way to protect our mountains is to restore and pass the Scenic Vistas bill.”