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HomeNewsSen. Kurita, Legislators to vote on surface coal mining, environmental bill

Sen. Kurita, Legislators to vote on surface coal mining, environmental bill

State Senator Rosalind Kurita, State Senator Doug Jackson, five other senators and four representatives have introduced legislation to protect land and waterways from the damage caused by surface coal mining. This environmental bill will be coming up for a vote On April 2.

Miners whittle down a mountain

HB 3348/SB 3822 would prohibit the Commissioner of the Department of Environment and Conservation from issuing or renewing a permit, certification or variance for:

  • Surface coal operations, or resulting waste, fill or in stream treatment within 100 feet of any water of the state. However, the commissioner could issue or renew a permit, certification, or variance for operations to improve the quality of streams previously disturbed by mining
  • Surface coal mining operations to alter or disturb any ridge line above 2,000 feet elevation above sea level. Joe Schiller, Associate Professor of Biology at Austin Peay State University, has reviewed the bill and states, “This bill certainly deserves strong support and I intend to contact Senator Kurita immediately to thank her for co-sponsoring it and encourage her to try to get it passed.”

During a contentious hearing before the Senate Environment, Conservation and Tourism committee on March 26, a National Coal Corporation executive and environmentalists clashed over the bill.

 See a description of the meeting and the arguments for and against the bill at http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2008/mar/27/national-coal-clashes-with-environmentalists/.

The Senate Environment, Conservation and Tourism committee made no decision on the bill and will meet again about the bill on April 2. The members of the committee are:

  • Chairman Tommy Kilby sen.tommy.kilby@legislature.state.tn.us (615) 741-1449;
  • Vice-Chair Dewayne Bunch sen.dewayne.bunch@legislature.state.tn.us (615) 741-3730;
  • Doug Jackson, Secretary (co-sponsor) sen.doug.jackson@legislature.state.tn.us (615) 741-2495;
  • Raymond Finney (co-sponsor) sen.raymond.finney@legislature.state.tn.us (615) 741-2427;
  • Roy Herron sen.roy.herron@legislature.state.tn.us (615) 741-4576;
  • Bill Ketron sen.bill.ketron@legislature.state.tn.us (615) 741-6853;
  • Steve Roller sen.steve.roller@legislature.state.tn.us (615) 741-6694;
  • Steve Southerland sen.steve.southerland@legislature.state.tn.us (615) 741-3851;
  • Mike Williams sen.mike.williams@legislature.state.tn.us (615) 741 2061
Beverly Fisher
Beverly Fisherhttp://
Author Beverly Fisher is an attorney in Clarksville accepting cases in the areas of Social Security disability, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and family law. She has been practicing law since 1979. She is a 1979 graduate of Vanderbilt Law School and graduated magna cum laude from the University of Memphis in 1976 with a B.A. She is a member of the Montgomery County Bar Association, the Tennessee Bar Association, the Nashville Bar Association and the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives. She is a member of the Friends of Dunbar Cave and is a supporter and fan of the Roxy Regional Theatre and the Downtown Artist’s Cooperative (DAC).


  1. Update on legislation from Beverly Fisher:
    The Senate committee did not vote on 4/2/08 and re-scheduled the hearing for 4/9/08. Unfortunately, a House subcommittee voted to kill the bill and adjourned for the year. Therefore, this bill cannot be passed this year. However, let the Senators know your views because this bill or a similar bill may resurface next year.

    As far as the action in the House, here are the votes for and against the bill. Legislators voting for the bill were Reps. Frank Buck, D-Dowelltown; Brenda Gilmore, D-Nashville; and Mike Kernell, D-Memphis.

    Those voting no were Reps. William Baird, R-Jacksboro; George Fraley, D-Winchester; Joe McCord, R-Maryville; Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains; and John Tidwell, D-New Johnsonville.

    Some of this information was obtained from the Knoxnews.com. Here is the link to the article about the bill:


  2. Update on legislation from Beverly Fisher:
    The Senate Committee re-scheduled the hearing for 4/16/08. There is still time to contact the Senators on the committee to let them know your views.

    See related article by Beth Robinson titled

    “Environmentally friendly bills stalled in Tennessee senate committees” from April 8, 2008

  3. Update: Approved on 4/16!

    The Tennessee Scenic Vistas Act, passed 8-1 in the Senate Environment, Conservation and Tourism Committee.
    SN 3822 – Water Pollution – Prohibits the department of environment and conservation from issuing permits related to surface mining under certain circumstances. – Amends TCA Title 59 and Title 69, Chapter 3.

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