Who needs Rocky Top? For yet another year, a state House subcommittee today deep-sixed legislation to stop coal companies from blowing the tops off Tennessee’s mountains.
But the political cowards on the misnamed Conservation and Environment Subcommittee couldn’t bring themselves to actually vote down the bill itself. Too many people support it, including a bunch of preachers and their congregations who have been praying fervently for its passage.
Instead, lawmakers voted 6-4 to send the bill to summer study. That’s the same as voting to kill it, but lawmakers insisted they really, really truly do want to study this issue. We guess they just haven’t had the time to think about it during any of the five sessions it’s been debated so far in the legislature.
“What would Tennessee be without our mountains?” asked Rep. Mike McDonald, D-Portland, the bill's sponsor.
He said coal companies have started mountaintop removal mining at eight locations in this state since this bill first was proposed.
“We have delayed and delayed action on this and we’ve lost eight mountains since 2008 by delaying. If we don’t pass this bill this year, we’ll lose more mountains. … Just like it was historic when the Great Smoky Mountains were protected and preserved for future generations, this committee has a historic opportunity today to protect Tennesseans and Tennessee’s mountains. Without our mountains, Tennessee is not Tennessee.”
But Republican Rep. Richard Floyd—yes, that's right, the guy who wants to stomp transgender people—said more time is needed to think about whether it's OK to blow up mountains. He promised his summer study idea is "not just a black hole, either." He called it "a true study committee."
"This is by no sense of the imagination a smoking screen," the silver-tongued devil said before lawmakers voted to dodge their responsibilities yet again.
When this bill came up in the Senate, opponents contended that coal companies haven't blown up mountains in Tennessee. To refute those claims, the bill's supporters produced this video: