FOREVER GREEN TENNESEE is a one-time $35 million budget amendment has been introduced to conserve forested corridors to protect water quality, farmland protection, and historic preservation. These are listed as Senate Budget Amendment #81 and House Budget Amendment #152 to the Budget Appropriations bills. Specifically, a $25 million fund is established to preserve forested corridors to protect water, a $5 million fund to conserve farmland, and a $5 million fund for preserving our history. Funds from the General Fund will be deposited to the Tennessee Heritage Conservation Trust Fund. In cases of fee land purchase, in lieu of tax payments for property tax will be made to county governments. Visit the Forever Green Tennessee website HERE. Join the Forever Green Tennessee Facebook page HERE.
TAKE ACTION TO STOP THE POLLUTION OF OUR STREAMS WITH ANIMAL WASTES FROM CONCENTRATED ANIMAL FEEDING OPERATION
SB0899/HB1017 ( as amended ) would require that the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s (TDEC) regulation of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) be “no stricter than federal.” This would severely impair TDEC’s ability to protect our streams and lakes from the nutrient runoff from the land application of animal wastes, and threaten our waters with harmful algal blooms. Currently TDEC works with CAFO operators through a State Operating Permit to ensure that the land application of animal wastes is applied to farm fields at times and at rates that result in the beneficial uptake of the resulting nutrients by crops. If passed, SB0899/HB1017 would eliminate this program, leaving more than 270 CAFOs in Tennessee entirely unregulated. This bill has been passed out of committee and maybe voted on on the floor of both houses the week of April 3rd. TDEC also opposes this bill. See their talking points here.
TAKE ACTION TO STOP MOUNTAINTOP REMOVAL AND RIDGELINE COAL MINING IN TENNESSEE
SB0686/HB0571 (as amended ) would direct the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation to resume primary permitting responsibility for surface mining of coal under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA). This permitting is currently performed by the Federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE), subject to the rules of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Needless to say, permitting under NEPA provides much more robust opportunities for citizen engagement and much more serious consideration of other federal environmental laws, including the Endangered Species Act and Clean Water Act. Operating this permitting program would cost Tennessee taxpayers more than $2 million dollars every year and, while the coal industry claims that these costs would be offset by increased permit fees and severance taxes, the reality is that coal mining in Tennessee has been declining for years and most industry experts believe that the market for Tennessee coal will never come back. Due to the cost of operating this program, TDEC and Governor Haslam oppose the bill.
DON’T GIVE POST CONSTRUCTION STORM WATER OVERSIGHT TO THE LEGISLATURE
As amended, SB0295/HB0362, wo
TAKE ACTION TO PROTECT LOCAL COMMUNITIES’ RIGHT TO RESTRICT THE SITING OF MAJOR AIR POLLUTION SOURCES
SB1371/HB1405, as amended , would prohibit local communities from using zoning laws to restrict the siting of major air pollution sources that are preempted from local regulation by the Natural Gas Act of 1928 and the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (Dick Cheney “Halliburton Loophole”). BACKGROUND: Davidson County passed zoning ordinances to restrict the siting of natural gas pipeline compressor stations to industrially zoned areas. For this zoning to stand up to the preemptive powers of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the zoning requirements would need to be included in Davidson County’s Clean Air Act State Implementation Plan. SB1371/HB1405 would prohibit the TN Air Pollution Control Board from doing so. The Senate has already voted to support this bill, but it will be before the House Resources Committee on Tuesday, March 4th.