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Archive for April, 2010

TCWN releases a report on TDEC’s enforcement program

Monday, April 19th, 2010

On Wed, April 14, 2010 TCWN released a report on TDEC’s enforcement program in the Division of Water Pollution Control.  We made the following findings:

In 2008, 204 sites across the state had enforcement actions.  Of those sites 2% were on farmland, but not for farming activities, 2% were against mining and 73% were against developers.

The average fine that was required to be paid was $2,000 or less. The average total assessed fine was between $2,000 - $5,000 (the amount is bartered down in settlement negotiations).

The majority of enforcement actions (65%) were Expedited Enforcement Actions which are for small permit violations, like not having your pollution prevention plan on site, not water quality violations and the fines can be reduced by half if there is no appeal.

To read more, click here.

A frequent legislative foe, turned friend

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

Anyone who works with the legislature knows things can be unpredictable.  Sometimes it is surprising how a legislator may vote on an issue, but frequently there is consistency in the ideology.  Rep. Frank Niceley (R-part of Knox and Jefferson Counties) has been a member of the House Conservation and Environment Committee for some time, and is commonly referred to by his fellow members as “the Contrarian.”  He is not known for his support of environmentally protective legislation - frequently receiving stumps on the Tennessee Conservation Voters Legislative Scorecard.

But this year Rep. Niceley sponsored some great bills which would support our traditional farms and protect our land and water quality.  From lessening soil erosion on landfills, to excluding agricultural land from planned growth areas, to limiting the use of GMO seeds, we were glad to see bills like this introduced this legislative session.  We look forward to seeing Rep. Niceley continue to protect property owners and Tennessee’s natural resources.

Feds another step closer to stopping MTR mining

Monday, April 5th, 2010

Despite the failure of our state legislature this week to pass out of committee legislation protecting our mountains from mountain top removal mining, Thursday the USEPA released a memo for guidance on addressing surface coal mining in Appalachia.  As one article noted, “Federal regulators go where the Tennessee legislature won’t.”  This new guidance places more restrictions on the practice of blowing off the tops of our mountains and allowing the rubble to fall into and fill beautiful mountain streams below.  TCWN is grateful for those state legislators who made the effort to pass the Scenic Vistas Act out of the House environmental sub-committee last week – Rep. McDonald (sponsor), Rep. Gilmore, Rep. Fraley, and Rep. Borchert.  We are also grateful for Sen. Lamar Alexander’s work at the national level to stop this horribly destructive mining practice.  Click here to read EPA’s new guidance