NASHVILLE - Sen. Andy Berke, D-Chattanooga, says he will try to resurrect a proposed ban on "mountaintop removal" mining of coal in Tennessee this week after Republican lawmakers "tried to sweep it under the rug" this legislative session.
"We should not use parliamentary tricks to help special interest groups," Sen. Berke said in a news release. "It's time to take up a real issue that Tennesseans care about. Our mountains and way of life are too important to be bullied by a small group of people any longer."
The bill would make surface coal mining above 2,000 feet illegal in Tennessee.
Sen. Berke cited experts' testimony that mountaintop mining has resulted in "mutated and sickly fish" born well downstream of mining site and that it cane work its way "all the way up" the food chain.
Sen. Berke said the mountain top removal legislation - Senate Bill 1398 - was scheduled for weeks in the Senate Environment Committee but the panel never voted on it because it quit meeting altogether.
A week later, the House Subcommittee on Conservation and Environment held its last meeting and, citing the Senate's refusal to act, adjourned.
Tennessee already allows mountaintop mining at Zeb Mountain in Pioneer, where pollution is showing up in water supplies, the senator said. He noted that a number of groups, including faith-based organizations, support the ban and cited statistics that fewer than 400 people are involved in the practice.
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