I believe Lt. Gov. Ramsey misrepresented the impact of the Senate Energy and Environment Committee's passage of “SB 577” last week, which was still referred to as the TN “Scenic Vistas Protection Act.” In fact, on Feb. 29th, the Senate Energy & Environment Committee radically altered SB 577 before passing it, and the amendments essentially allow “business as usual” including more mountaintop removal (MTR) mining.
More importantly, though, the amended bill will be considered before the full TN Senate on March 8th! Please contact all the Senators and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey before the Senate session begins that day. Ask them to restore and support the original language of the bill (details available from TNLEAF.org, Mar 1 Action Alert) and then pass it!
You may realize that the southern Appalachians are one of the richest regions in the world for biodiversity. Many people use our mountains for outdoor recreation, and for peace of mind and spiritual renewal. Their value for tourism and in maintaining our cultural heritage far exceeds any compensation for a one-time extraction of low-grade coal, especially since the profits go to a company outside of TN.
What about jobs? MTR mining is not like coal mining that was done years ago. It actually reduces the number of people employed in coal mining, and the profits go to corporations in other states. Data from KY, VA, and WV show that people who live in mined areas suffer most directly from the health impacts of air and water pollution and do not benefit economically in the long term. A less destructive form of mining can be used.
Destroying our mountains for a one-time use is poor stewardship of a gift from God. Please let our Senators and Lt. Gov. Ramsey know how you feel before March 8th. Thank you.

Carol Landis
Johnson City