Environmental Ethics in Tennessee

State lawmakers and environmental advocates criticized the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation for mingling with industries they regulate at the agency’s annual environmental conference in May, according to The Tennessean.

Environmental Show of the South attendees could partake in a pub crawl, register to win prizes like 65-inch TVs and rub shoulders with environmental regulators at a golf tournament organized by a state employee and sponsored by industries like Eastman Chemical Co., the paper reported.

On June 6, TDEC responded to the criticism in a letter to the Tennessee comptroller. TDEC Commissioner David Salyers said the agency would stop “pub crawls,” eliminate prizes for participants and bar TDEC employees from soliciting golf tournament sponsorships.

State lawmakers and activists also criticized TDEC for the $375 registration fee, which they argued prevents the average citizen from attending and having the same access to regulators as industry representatives. Salyers’ letter said the agency will now provide “reduced rates for representatives of environmental non-profit organizations, local governments and academic institutions.”

State lawmakers said they will investigate to see if any state law has been broken, The Tennessean reported. — By Christine Dudley

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