Photo courtesy Our Tenn Trees
In the past few years, TVA has implemented an agressive policy which requires the total removal of all trees which either are, or could be, 15 feet or taller, and located anywhere within the entire width of the 150-250 foot easement “right-of-way” for power transmission lines on public and private property. TVA is also using dangerous herbicides on a widespread basis in rural areas including farm land, to destroy low-growing vegetation like brush, shrubs, and even blackberry bushes. The ruthless enforcement of this vegetation management policy will result in the removal of millions of trees – and other vegetation which will never affect the lines – in TVA’s seven state service area, and 15,900 miles of transmission lines, covering approximately 260,000 acres.
Please read the information below and sign the following petition to TVA:
BACKGROUND ON THIS ISSUE
The following was provided by Larry Silverstein – 7/30/12
The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has recently made a major change to its vegetation management and transmission line right of way clearance policy which has a significant negative impact on the environment.
It has always been TVA’s policy to prevent tall trees from growing into transmission lines, particularly clearing directly underneath the lines and removing other tall trees that could possibly fall into the lines.
In the past couple of years, TVA has implemented without prior environmental review or notice to communities or property owners, a much more aggressive policy which requires the total removal of all trees which either are, or could be, 15 feet or taller, and located anywhere within the entire width of the 150-250 foot easements, not just in the area directly under the wires, sometimes called the “wire zone.”
This “one size fits all” policy for both rural and urban areas, does not take into account whether trees are full grown and far below the height of the lines, or their expected height based on species. This results in the removal of many small trees and other vegetation which will never affect the lines.
TVA refuses to trim trees, only clear cuts them. This policy will result in the removal of millions of trees in TVA’s seven state service area, and 15,900 miles of transmission lines, covering approximately 260,000 acres according to TVA. This policy will result in massive and needless destruction of private and public property, and do permanent damage to the environment and wildlife, particularly nesting birds and animals, in violation of state and Federal laws.
In addition to cutting down trees, TVA has an aggressive herbicide policy to clear very low growing brush, shrubs, trees, grass, and even blackberry bushes, especially in rural areas, including farms and animal grazing areas, usually without any advance notice whatsoever. The extensive use of herbicides is causing unnecessary and substantial additional damage to property and the environment.
TVA is not living up to its declared responsibility of being a good steward of the environment. TVA has a legal right only to do what is reasonable and necessary to maintain its easements, not to do unreasonable damage to the property it does not own. TVA’s current policy goes way beyond what is reasonable and necessary, and thus is illegal.
TVA’s claim that this new policy is necessary for safety and reliability is not correct considering that TVA has had 99.999% reliability for the past twelve years and has had only one known brief outage caused by a single tree in Alabama in 2010, and zero safety issues.
In 2010, when tornadoes struck northern Alabama, TVA lost over 100 transmission lines and 350 steel towers. This extreme weather event caused considerable outages and cost $200 million in damage and expense to TVA. However, there were no direct injuries due to the towers or lines falling. Trees had nothing to do with this particular “reliability issue.”
TVA has no right to destroy private and public property it does not own without a very strong showing that this is “reasonable and necessary.” This policy is not required by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ( FERC), despite TVA’s frequent and erroneous claims to the contrary.
The Tennessee Environmental Council urges TVA to immediately discontinue its current policy and to adopt a more reasonable and balanced approach which will better protect and respect the environment and property rights, while at the same time allow TVA to maintain its easement and equipment. The Council urges all state, local, and federal officials to use their influence on TVA and its Board of Directors to change this destructive policy immediately.
Larry Silverstein can be contacted at: knoxtrees(at)aol.com
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