And Sen. Lamar Alexander totally "gets it," in the political parlance of the moment. So he's pushing Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to quit dawdling about the "administrative completeness" of Gov. Phil Bredesen's request to demarcate the ridgelines of the Northern Cumberland Plateau as unsuitable for surface mining and get right on down to the official review of his petition.
The area in question is anything within 600 feet on either side of the ridgeline in the designated lands upstream from the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, which includes Anderson, Campbell, Morgan and Scott counties. This will protect some 67,000 acres along a 1,200-foot corridor.
"The Great Smoky Mountains and other conservation areas and national parks in Tennessee have not only preserved pristine parts of the Great American Outdoors, but they bring millions of people to visit them every year and hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of jobs to the state," Alexander wrote in his letter to Salazar. "The governor's request is not only a good way to save our mountaintops and preserve these areas for the future but is also a good way to create new jobs in an area of our state that urgently needs them."
Jobs and the Great American Outdoors: A bipartisan proposal we can get behind.