Pam's Points: We want 'the real thing,' pollution fines that bite and no more Nashville nonsense

Pam's Points: We want 'the real thing,' pollution fines that bite and no more Nashville nonsense

March 7th, 2014 in Opinion Times

Chattanooga's Coca-Cola Co. hopes to increase its presence in town with a proposed $62 million expansion.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

Everything's better with Coke

Will Coca-Cola Bottling Co. United's proposed $62 million expansion for Chattanooga be the real thing?

We hope so. It would add 43 jobs to the 487 Coca-Cola Bottling Co. employees in Chattanooga on Amnicola Highway. The catch is that there is very little vacant industrial land left in the city.

Coke is hoping to work out a deal to build a 290,000-square-foot distribution and sales facility on the former Olan Mills plant site on Highway 153, but that plan would require the rezoning of two plats of land next door. The rezoning proposal passed a City Council committee this week and goes to the full council next week.

It will be an important vote, as Coca-Cola officials have said that while they hope to stay in Chattanooga, they will put the expansion elsewhere -- perhaps in another state -- if their needs can't be met here. That could mean fewer Chattanooga jobs, as all but 203 of the present 487 workers, along with 43 new hires, would move to the new facility.

Let's make this real thing a sure thing, council.

The price of power

One of the largest coal producers in the nation has agreed to pay the largest fine ever for water pollution in five Appalachian states including Tennessee.

Alpha Natural Resources, a conglomerate with 66 subsidiaries based in Bristol, Va., will pay $27 million in fines and spend another $200 million to clean up its toxic discharges from more than 6,000 violations. Those violations are for exceeding the amount of pollution company mining operations are allowed to legally dump under 300 state-issued permits. The violations involve hundreds of streams, tributaries and rivers, 79 active coal mines and 25 coal processing plants where coal is washed before it's shipped.

Court documents and interviews indicate the company had budgeted for the fines. Company officials told an AP reporter the civil penalty would not result in any layoffs.

Does that sound as though polluting and paying the penalty is cheaper than not polluting in the first place?

The clowns in Nashville

Our laughable lawmakers in Nashville are at it again. They're threatening to withhold funding from the University of Tennessee if the university doesn't pull the plug on "Sex week." (Hint, solons: College students are old enough to debate sexual issues and certainly could benefit from frank discussions about things like date rape, safe sex, etc.)

Meanwhile, our daring lawmakers are once again strapping on their National Rifle Association gun T-shirts. This time, a proposal to strip local government control over prohibiting people with handgun carry permits to be armed at parks, playgrounds and sports fields has cleared its first legislative hurdle in the House.

That's right: It would be OK to tote guns and chance a shootout at a UT football game, but not to talk about sex.

Who elected these people?