environment

You can now buy Phil Bredesen ‘Cut the Carp’ baseball caps

U.S. Senate candidate Phil Bredesen is apparently the only candidate for statewide office this year to make a campaign issue out of the Asian carp invasion of Tennessee lakes and rivers. Now he’s using it as a fundraising device (gimmick?), offering baseball caps bearing the slogan ‘Phil Bredesen, U.S. Senate, Cut the Carp’ or ‘Phil Bredesen Against Asian Carp’  at $25 each.

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Fitzhugh seeks AG opinion on regulation of chicken farms (with almost 600 more needed to supply Tyson Foods in West TN)

House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, who is running for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, has asked for a state attorney general’s opinion on legal issues surrounding a planned Tyson Foods chicken processing plant at Humboldt and 590 new commercial chicken farm operations that will be needed to supply poultry for the plant and an expanding Tyson operation at Union City.

Groundbreaking for the new facility was held Wednesday, though Tennessee Star reports the state Department of Environment and Conservation has so far denied two water pollution runoff permits needed for construction of the processing plant. In a follow-up article today, the online arch-conservative conservative website notes that Karl Dean, also running for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, was on hand for the groundbreaking event — or, in the Star’s words, “cheering ‘big meats’ newest location.” It references a Dean Facebook post saying Tyson will be “a great partner in making sure we continue to have the workforce for good jobs.”

At the ceremony, Tyson officials announced a $500,000 grant to Gibson County, reports the Jackson Sun.

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Bredesen fishing for angler votes with proposals to combat Asian carp?

Former Gov. Phil Bredesen, now running for the U.S. Senate as the presumptive Democratic nominee, says he learned a lot about Asian carp at the recent Paris Fish Fry and now has suggestions for dealing with the piscatory problem – including government subsidies for fishermen and sterilization.

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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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