Tenn. committee nixes bill for state “primacy” over regulating surface coal mining

Contact: Ann League, Tennessee campaign coordinator, 865-617-2451 (cell)

Today, the Tennessee Senate Energy, Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee essentially killed a bill that would have given regulatory oversight of surface coal mining in the state to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation rather than the federal government, which currently oversees mining in Tennessee. The committee referred the bill, SB 1998 or the “primacy” bill, to the general subcommittee, which means it will not come up again during this session.

Among other things, the bill would have burdened Tennessee taxpayers with millions of dollars to develop and implement a surface mining program. It would have also set the stage for weakened water quality protections, and severely limited public involvement in permitting and enforcement activities.

A statement from Ann League: (for more background, read Ann’s op-ed in The Tennessean)

“The committee members took a sound course of action today on this ill-conceived bill. They saved Tennessee taxpayers millions of dollars in unnecessary spending, and in the process safeguarded our water quality and protected the mountain heritage for all Tennesseans. If it comes up again next year, they should reject it again.

“Thanks goes to all the Appalachian Voices members and many other citizens who called their legislators to oppose the bill.”