Sustainable Tennessee Agenda & Priorities


Some 25 priorities and actions steps have been identified in public forums hosted by the Council within the last year.  These represent the greatest opportunities for advancing the practices and policies for a more sustainable Tennessee — to improve our environment, communities, and public health.

The priorities have been ranked by our constituents as follows:

1. Clean Energy: Get TVA to adopt a step-by step, project-by-project plan to replace the energy generated by coal and nuclear plants as they age out with renewable energy.

2. Water Quality: Broaden stewardship ethic through outreach to and collaboration between civic, public, faith groups, and local watershed organizations.

3. Recycling: Increase benefits and incentives for recycling; increase barriers and repercussions to landfill waste and littering.

4. Clean Energy: Pass legislation to enable Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), making home solar, energy efficiency, and water conservation upgrades more affordable to the general public.

5. Water Quality: Reduce the impact of coal pollution on Tennessee waters–develop strategies to block SMCRA Primacy, incorporate new, effluent limitations on coal power plants, and implement Coal Combustion Residual Rule.

6. Recycling:  Expedite and streamline state permitting for recycling facilities.

7. Food: Develop and implement a plan to expand urban and community gardens as well as edible landscaping on private property and along greenways.

8. Water Security: Encourage TDEC and the General Assembly to undertake water utilization studies and contingency planning water supply planning.

9. Local Food: Establish a baseline of how much—what percentage—of local food is grown/eaten in Tennessee. Then, launch public education on the benefits of local and organic food to drive local trends in purchasing while targeting grocery stores, restaurants, and consumers.

10. Green Infrastructure: Encourage municipalities and large counties to require all new development to capture 1 inch of precipitation.

11. Green Infrastructure: Increase state funding toward land acquisition.

12. Water Quality: Promote swift, effective and even-handed enforcement of water laws and permits—online DMR submission, increased citizen reporting of runoff from CAFOs, logging and other industrial discharges, etc.

13. Green Infrastructure: Develop and implement a statewide plan to increase awareness of, and adoption of green infrastructure projects that improve water quality, reduce flooding, increase water security (e.g., rain gardens, pervious pavement, riparian tree-planting, watershed restoration).

14. Water: Amend state law to allow use of gray water.

15. Recycling: Assess feasibility of banning plastic bags, Styrofoam, and other products that are dangerous to environment and difficult to recycle.

16. Clean Energy: Work with TDEC on the Clean Power Plan to ensure maximization of energy efficiency and renewables in the state plan.

17. Faith Community Engagement: Develop a statewide urban garden partnership between low-income housing areas or abandoned lots and churches.

18. Clean Energy: Support a statewide effort to get TVA to implement low-income energy efficiency programs by 2018.

19. Recycling: Reduce use of virgin materials in packaging by redesigning packaging and/or making it biodegradable.

20. Clean Energy: Encourage 5 local power companies to provide LED light bulbs to modest income households.

21. Clean Energy: Lobby for open meetings and open records for electric co-ops and local power companies as well as salary incentives for LPCs and co-ops tied to energy efficiency and renewable energy advancements

22. Green Infrastructure: Have the state match 319 grant to reduce stakeholder contributions.

23. Clean Energy: Continue to support 7 new community and local power solar projects.

24. Water Quality: Work to increase lead contamination monitoring of well water

25. Faith Community Engagement: Organize a one-day, statewide, non-denominational workshop with creation care teaching and success stories from churches.


To get involved in Sustainable Tennessee, please send an email to tec(at symbol) with subject line “Sustainable TN”.  


Sustainable Tennessee is a project of the Tennessee Environmental Council, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Membership in the Council and/or your contributions help support our year-round efforts to develop and implement the Sustainable Tennessee Agenda. A minimal contribution will help offset costs for one person to attend one of our meetings or events throughout the year.  Please click here to donate.  Thank you for your support!

~ Natural resources form the backbone of our economy, quality of life and our Tennessee heritage ~