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Tennessee Clean
Water Network

123A S. Gay St.
Knoxville, TN 37902

Office: 865.522.7007
Fax: 865.525.4988

TCWN joins 8 other state conservation groups in petition to EPA!

August 6th, 2008 by Dana Wright

Last week we signed on to a petition to the EPA requesting them to set and enforce numeric standards to limit nitrogen and phosphorus pollution in the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi River Basin. EPA has disregarded its responsibility under the federal Clean Water Act to limit pollution in the Mississippi River, and it’s time they addressed this ongoing problem. The dead zone will continue to grow unless the EPA sets numeric standards for nitrogen and phosphorus pollution and requires all states in the river basin meet those standards.

In 1998 the EPA requested states to adopt specific limits on nitrogen and phosphorus pollution, even threatening to enact its own limits if states had not complied by 2003. It’s been 10 years, but nothing has happened. Every state along the Mississippi has thumbed its nose at that and other deadlines set by EPA, and the federal government has not stepped in to supply the urgently needed protections. As a result, inland water quality problems have multiplied and the dead zone has continued to grow. Now Tennessee ranks 7th out of the 31 states making up the MS River Basin as a contributor to the phosphorus and nitrogen delivered to the Gulf of Mexico.

This petition serves to notify the EPA we are fed up with their failure to protect the MS River and that it’s time to take some action!

Cumberland Trail State Park - Rock Harvesting Court Opinion

August 1st, 2008 by Renée Hoyos

Yesterday the Tennessee Court of Appeals ruled in our favor in the Cumberland Trail State Park rock “harvesting” case. In a strong, well-reasoned, and clear opinion, the Court stated that “general mineral reservations in a deed will not be construed so broadly as to include extraction methods that destroy the surface rights conveyed in the same deed. If a grantor wishes to retain the right to obtain minerals through destructive surface extraction, he must explicitly reserve that right within the deed; a general mineral reservation will not suffice.” This is the rule that we advanced in the amicus brief.

The Court went on to explain that the case-law, “as well as basic common sense and equity, compel the conclusion” that the mineral owner does not have the right to destroy the state’s surface rights by depriving the state of the reasonable use of its land by, for example, destroying the trees in the park. The opinion showed clear signs of our amicus brief’s influence.

The Court of Appeals remanded the case back to the trial court in Hamilton County for further proceedings consistent with the opinion. We will be working with our partner organizations through the appeal process.

This is a great outcome for our effort to keep the Cumberland Trail State Park free of rock harvesting and goes a long way towards establishing clear law on this issue in Tennessee for all land owners. Many thank got to the TCWN Board Chair Greg Buppert who co-wrote the Amicus brief with Sarah Franciso of Southern Environmental Law Center!

Read the attached document for the fine details.

State of Tennessee vs. Lahiere-Hill, LLC


VW site in Chattanooga

July 31st, 2008 by Renée Hoyos

I was able to take a tour of the VW site in Chattanooga last week. This is truly a great story. The site was an old ammunition factory during WWII and was horribly polluted. Chattanooga paid big bucks to reclamate the site and now they have attracted VW to set up shop on the restored brownfield.

I took the tour with Bill Phillips who is a wetland specialist. Though the site was being prepared and was mostly shaved ground, he took me to the back of the property to see the areas that are slated to become conservation easement greenspace.

Apparently, VW asked some hard environmental questions to the Chattanooga decisionmakers before making their decision to move here. They WANTED a brownfield site to build on. This is good corporate sponsorship if ever there was one!

Now to see if they honor the requirements of their permits. We’ll be watching…


Stormwater enforcement ramps up

July 16th, 2008 by Renée Hoyos

The Stormwater Quarterly, published by the National Stormwater Center, talks candidly about stormwater enforcement. Recently, EPA lowered the boom on four large construction companies for polluting water. EPA is now under court order to establish national standards for the construction industry.

TCWN believes that if someone has to get a permit to pollute, he/she must monitor the water they are discharging into and keep their facilities clean. Up to this point, developers have never had to monitor their sites, take water samples or otherwise keep from polluting. Unlike, other industries that must submit daily monitoring reports, detail any violations and notify the state of the violations and how they plan to fix them.

Finally, the playing field will be level for all of industry.

For more details, The Stormwater Quarterly Spring issue .


TCWN attends River Action Day in DC

June 25th, 2008 by Renée Hoyos


Last week while in DC, I and about 10 other organizations met with the EPA to talk about the fallout from Rapanos, the new wetlands mitigation rule, TMDLs, and nutrient standards. The experience was largely typical. They talked about what they were doing and answered questions vaguely. They received many 1,000s of comments on the Rapanos Guidance. On the wetlands mitigation rule they are emphasizing avoidance and minimization for development within wetlands. We didn’t get much traction on the nutrient issue. EPA was supposed to come out with a standard years ago. They continue to put it off.

The next day was spent visiting with the Tennessee Congressional Delegation. Most visits were pleasant and many responses were typical. I was very happy to be accompanied by Lee and Carter Patton. They were invaluable help and had the necessary passion to sustain us through a very long day. Our primary focus was the 40th Anniversary of the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act, global warming regulation and the Sewage Right to Know Act. On the Tennessee side, we discussed the Mercury Reduction Act and suggested four river segments in the Smokies to be designated Wild & Scenic Rivers.

We met with Congressman Zack Wamp who seemed interested in our views on the Mercury legislation, supportive of the Sewage Right to Know Act. He was the only congressman to meet with us that day.

We had one very exciting meeting with a staffer. For grins, take our little quiz and guess which congresswoman he works for.

1. When asked what he thinks about global warming his response was:

  1. With $5M we can solve all the infrastrure problems in third world countries
  2. 2008 was the coolest year on record. (he might have meant "hip", but we didn’t bother to ask)
  3. It’s cheaper to fix other countries than to regulate green house gases.

Answer: All of the above.

2. When asked what accomplishment was he most proud of he answered:

  1. The congresswoman’s commitment to the environment
  2. The congresswoman’s commitment to the oil industry
  3. I can’t answer that.

Answer: #3

3. When asked, "OK, what is the accomplishment in Tennessee he is most proud of?" he answered:

  1. Oh, that’s easy, the congresswoman’s commitment to Tennessee’s environment
  2. The congresswoman’s commitment to Tennessee’s oil industry
  3. That question is too broad. I can’t answer it.

Answer: #3

If you know which congresswoman we speak of, email me at [email protected] and if you’re correct, I’ll send you 10 TCWN Holiday cards! It’s never too early for Christmas.

We went on to have several wonderful conversations with the staffers of Senators Corker and Alexander and Congressmen Cooper, both Davis’, and Gordon. They all understand the dire straits we are in due to climate change and though they did not offer solutions to these problems, they did understand the need for swift action to curb the effects of a globe gone wild.

That evening American Rivers hosted a gala celebration for the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act’s 40 Anniversary. We only have one river on the W&S list - the Obed River. There were many notables at the event: Bruce Babbit, Will Skerrit and Micheal Keaton (yes, Batman).

I had a great time and thank American Rivers for making it happen. They have a River Action Day every year. We post it on our enews. Every time I participate in River Action Day I’m reminded how much our congressional delegation needs to hear from us that preserving water quality is important.