He says he can't stop coal companies from blowing the tops off our mountains because that would amount to an unconstitutional taking of property. We're guessing he wouldn't have the same qualms if he needed to condemn some poor sap's land to make way for a fabulous new commercial development. That would be a different story, wouldn't it?
The administration bill on this topic merely places into law various inadequate regulations that provide some environmental protections around mining sites. It doesn't do much of anything to save mountain towns from the ravages of this kind of mining. Coal companies blast up to 1,000 feet off the tops of mountains. Polluted water supplies, landslides and floods threaten communities in the valleys below.
Here's what the governor said this morning about the administration bill:
Bredesen: This is not a vast extension of what's going on right now but kind of putting into law the way we've been handling this. I think that will work in the General Assembly and provide some significant protections for the long term.
Q: So it's not a ban?
Bredesen: The problem is, look I'll be honest with you, I would ban it if I could. There are huge issues here of takings of property. People under the U.S. Constitution have rights to be compensated for these takings. I certainly don't have the money to go buy every seam of coal in the state. I think what we can do is make sure that if mining takes place that it's done with sensitivity to water quality and sensitivity to the environmental issues and to the impact on the local communities. That's what these regulations that have been put in place over the years would do and now I'd like to just codify them in law and make sure they remain in place for the long term.