BY JAY MCCARTHY
For The Vista
This was Legislative Fireworks — Tennessee Style.
For those of you that haven’t had the chance to travel to Nashville to show your support for the Cumberland Mountain Preservation Coalition’s (CMPC) Bill SB1336/HB1021— you don’t know what you’re missing.
During the first senate committee hearing recently, our adversaries from Apex Energy, Inc. — proposers of a massive Wind Turbine project on Crab Orchard’s Millstone Mountain — had all their heavy weights assembled for an all-out assault against Tennessee Senator Paul Bailey and tried to kill the bill on the spot.
Of course, by killing the bill in committee it was all over for our cause to stop the project.
They almost succeeded except for some back room wheeling and dealing by our lobbyist and allies that kept the bill on life support for another day.
During the second senate session, our bill again was assaulted by Apex and their lobbyist making all attempts again to kill the Bill. Senator Bailey by his midnight negotiations kept the bill on life support by gaining some support in unexpected places.
Bill SB1336 urges the department of environment and conservation to study other states’ laws that require or allow the state to regulate wind energy facility siting was recommended for passage to theSenate Calendar Committee after a vote of 9 Ayes and 0 Nays.
Rep Sexton, Sen. Bailey and our lobbyist, should be complimented on keeping the bill alive and fending off “big special interest”.
The CMPC’s lobbyist, Brad Lampley, was offensive tackle for UT, his job was to protect Payton Manning … but Brad said he had not beat up this bad since his playing days. He explained that this bill has seen more interest then almost any bill he has ever worked on. He told us that special interest, heavy weight Farm Bureau, is pulling out all the stops to defeat us in committee trying to prevent it from getting to the floor for a vote where we have a fighting chance of winning.
Fortunately, we have as one of our allies, Tennessee Wildlife Federation — one of the best environmental groups in the country. Also, another ally who has been fighting for us is Dr. Mark Green, who is considering a run for governor. They both have been helping us by doing some back room persuasion on our behalf to get our bill to pass.
You would be surprised to hear the positive comments that CMPC and our supporters get while sitting in on legislative meetings or roaming the floors of the legislative plaza in Nashville.
In groups, CMPC members wear bright orange shirts showing solidarity for our Bill. This bill is getting the most attention of any bill besides the proposed increase in TN gas tax. This is in large part to everyone who has helped in making phone calls, sending emails, writing letters, going to Nashville and attending events which has helped us get to this point. AMAZING. Well Done!
Now over the next week or so we face another important hurdle. We need to get this bill out of House Committee on Tuesday, April 4, and for the Senate to vote on Thursday, April 6.
We need anyone who can join us in Nashville this week to contact Cliff Segar. We will meet at the four way in FFG so anyone who wants to attend can car pool with others. We need your support. (Contact Cliff Segar 865-773-2586) for info.
Everyone who has made the trek, commented very positively on the educational experience and had a fun day. Many people have told me that whenever they have the opportunity to talk about our bill to legislators, who are always roaming the hallways, the response is always positive. It also gives you a chance to see Tennessee government at work. One group told me while roaming the hallways they got an invitation for a free lunch with all the fixings from a gas company who made the offer. Watch our email blast for all the details for upcoming meetings and times.
CPMC had some highlights with some of our best speakers. David Southhall appeared on channel 5 news in Nashville making our case to the local community. Great job Dave!
Two other speakers — Craig Clark “The Professor” and Jim Martin aka “Mountain Man” — both did an outstanding job explaining to a packed audience during the House the Senate hearings the many problems that our community will face if this project is allowed to be built. Their passion was felt by everyone as you could see by the expressions on the committee members and those folks in attendance.
We want to thank all of you for your support and ask you to stay tune for this week’s action in Nashville. www.cumberlandmountaincoalition.com.
Go to; www.capitol.tn.gov to ask members to vote YES for SB1336/HB1021.