environment

Haslam appoints deputy commissioner as new TDEC chief

Press release from the governor’s office

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today named Dr. Shari Meghreblian as commissioner of the Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) effective May 1. Meghreblian has served as deputy commissioner for the department since 2011, overseeing TDEC’s environmental regulatory programs.

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Legislators vote for state takeover of coal mining regulation from feds

Following a four-year push by Tennessee’s coal mining industry, both the House and Senate have now approved legislation to have the state Department of Environment and Conservation assume oversight of the industry from the federal Office of Surface Mining.

The House approved the bill (SB686) on Monday on a vote of 69-20 while the Senate gave assent 25-4 back on March 12. The House added an amendment that will send the measure back to the Senate for anticipated concurrence.

Tennessee surrendered oversight of coal mining – called “primacy” in the industry — to the federal government 34 years ago. Sponsors Sen. Ken Yager (R-Kingston) and Rep. Dennis Powers (R-Jacksboro) say Tennessee is now the only coal-mining state in the nation that doesn’t operate its own program of issuing permits and enforcing regulations.

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Martineau exits as TDEC commissioner; joins real estate development firm

Press release from the governor’s office

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) Commissioner Bob Martineau will return to work in the private sector in May.

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Alexander pushes use of offshore drilling money to pay for National Park repairs

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander says he’s hopeful for passage this year of “the National Park Restoration Act” that could wipe out about $7 billion of backlogged maintenance in the National Parks Service over the next decade, reports the Times Free Press.

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TN Tech research used in lobbying ‘eviscerated’ by some professors

“Growing faculty outrage” prompted a Tennessee Technological University internal investigation into the validity of the school research that was financed by a Tennessee company, then used by U.S. Rep. Diane Black in supporting the company’s viewpoint on federal air pollution regulations, reports The Tennessean. Tech’s president suggests the internal review may “exonerate the innocent.”

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Black campaign collects $225K from donors linked to company benefiting from “pollution loophole” she promoted

Donors linked to a Crossville, Tenn., truck dealership known as Fitzgerald Glider provided 12 percent of contributions to the gubernatorial campaign of U.S. Rep. Diane Black, reports the New York Times under the headline, “How $225,000 Can Help Secure a Pollution Loophole at Trump’s E.P.A.” Black is reported to have played a pivotal role in promoting a “loophole” in federal law that helps the company.

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Harwell joins push to stop vehicle emissions testing in TN

House Speaker Beth Harwell, who is running for governor, Thursday threw her support behind legislation that would end vehicle emissions testing in the six counties where it’s now required, reports the Times Free Press.

The bill (HB1782) is sponsored by two Hamilton County legislators, Rep. Mike Carter, R-Ooltewah, and Sen. Bo Watson, R-Hixson. Besides Hamilton and Davidson County, which Harwell represents, the bill would also apply to Rutherford, Sumner, Williamson and Wilson counties.

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Megasite waste water dumping site relocated after vocal local opposition

After vocal opposition from residents in and around the Tipton County community of Randolph, located on the banks of the Mississippi River, state officials are withdrawing their current plans for the Memphis Regional Megasite’s 35-mile long wastewater pipeline, reports the Memphis Daily News.

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TDEC hides data on low-level radioactive waste from public

Excerpt from a Tennessean report:

Ten years ago, when Murfreesboro residents learned the state had approved the dumping of low-level radioactive waste at a local landfill, a fierce community backlash swiftly put an end to the practice.

Today, Tennessee citizens have no way to find out how much low-level radioactive waste is going into other landfills.

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, or TDEC, has wiped that data from its website and said it is confidential.

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Committee approves designation of 20,000 acres of Cherokee National Forest as wilderness

Press release from Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) today made the following statements after the Senate’s Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee advanced legislation they introduced earlier this year to preserve Tennessee’s heritage for future generations.

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