NASHVILLE - A House subcommittee effectively voted today to kill a proposed ban on so-called mountaintop-removal coal mining for the session, despite pleas from the measure's sponsor.
Acting on a motion by Rep. Richard Floyd, R-Chattanooga, the House Conservation and Environment Subcommittee voted 6-4 to send the bill to a summer study committee, which will meet after the legislature has adjourned for the year.
Earlier, Rep. Mike McDonald, D-Portland, the bill's sponsor, urged lawmakers to act on an amendment to the original version of the bill, which has met opposition from coal industry interests since 2008.
"What would Tennessee be without our mountains?" McDonald said, noting his bill only prevents surface mining that alters or disturbs ridgelines above 2,000 feet and does not affect existing permits.
McDonald said there were five mountains where so-called mountaintop removal occurs when he first brought the bill five years ago. There are 13 now, he argued.
Floyd said "this is something that's sensitive to a lot of people on both sides of this issue. I can tell you I'm not for blowing the tops of mountains off, but also I'm in favor of property rights."
For complete details, see tomorrow's Times Free Press.