September 2008
sierra web logo News from the Upper Cumberland
     Group Sierra Club 

 
Sierra Scene, Vol. 14, No. 6
In This Issue
Save These Dates
Thursday, Sept. 25,
7 pm
UCG Program Putnam Co. Library downstairs
 
 
Oct. 4 Solar Home Tour
Mary Mastin & Brian Paddock
 
Oct. 23 UCG Program - on Caney Fork Watershed Ass'n
 
Oct. 24-26 Chapter Meeting at Pickett State Park
 
Nov 13-15 TEC/TCV Summit for a Sustainable Tennessee
 
Nov. 17 TTU SEAC,SOCM Sierra Meeting
Ecuador Oil Fights
Energy Activist Call 
September 16th at 8:30pm EDT. Please join us to discuss federal global warming and energy campaigns. Guest speaker: Cathy Duvall, Sierra Club National Political Director. The call-in number as always is: 866-501-6174 2239223#  
 
ENERGY BILLS UPDATE:
We expect to see votes in both the House and Senate this week.
The House compromise energy bill will come to the floor tomorrow or Wednesday. We are focused on defeating any weakening of the bill -- a Republican Motion to Recommit (a procedure that allows the minority party to offer an  amendment to the bill under consideration) will likely include more giveaways for Big Oil and little for clean energy.
 
In the Senate, we expect a vote on the "Gang of Ten" bill (now the New Energy Reform Act) this week. We oppose this bill, which has a wishlist of polluting energy giveaways with only a token nod to clean energy.
 
Oppose "Gang of Ten"/New Energy Reform Act
Drilling provisions
include: opening up of the eastern Gulf of Mexico (western coast of Florida) 50 miles off the coast; offering a drilling opt-in for Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia with revenue sharing; and no protections for the west coast and Atlantic coast north of Maryland. Additional provisions include: $91-$170 billion in subsidies for nuclear power (worker training, new NRC staff, reprocessing facility, $84.2 to $163.1 billion in unlimited loan guarantees for 80% of cost); $500M in grants for liquid coal plus $10B in loan guarantees for plants capable of capturing CO2; too little for energy efficiency ($1 billion over 5 years); some good tax credits for advanced vehicles;
extension of clean energy tax incentives
.
 


 
Dear UCG Sierrans,
 
Having taken the summer off to enjoy an amazingly productive garden, fruit trees, berry bushes, etc, we're back into regular mode of meetings at the Putnam County Library the fourth Thursday of the month.   We had around twenty folks show up for the UCG picnic at Burgess Falls in June.  Now maybe we can get as many to attend the UCG programs lined up for the next three months.
 
Next Thursday, Sept. 25 we will hear from Putnam County Librarian Diane Duncan about the plans for the future expansion of the Library building, consistent with the ongoing enlargement, and new design for adjacent Dogwood Park.
 
Our October meeting will be a presentation from John Harwood of the Caney Fork Watershed Association.  Then in November, we'll have a joint meeting with SOCM and SEAC, the TTU Student Environmental group at Tech.  We'll do this on Monday, November 17th (the 4th Thursday being Thanksgiving).  Tech economics professor Dr. Jon Jonakin and our own Brian Paddock will show slides from their Global Exchange trip to Ecuador this summer on the environmental degradation of oil drilling there and the indigenous people's fights against it.
 
We've got several other things on our agenda.  Working with Tracy Meggs of the City's Stormwater program on a Rain Barrel Festival for Earth Day next spring is one of them.  Helping the Tennessee Environmental Council plan their three day Summit for a Sustainable Tennessee, to be held at Lipsomb in Nashville in November is another one.  We've got action alerts on some MTR litigation and on federal energy bills and a fall Chapter quarterly meeting all happening in this busy political season.
 
We need to have some NEW volunteers to run for UCG officers for next year.  We need to do some major planning on our aforementioned projects.  Hope your summer was as great as mine.  Also hoping to see some of you at our programs this fall and at our Solar Home Tour.
 
Mary Mastin  Chair, Upper Cumberland Group 
SOLAR HOME TOUR National Solar Tour logo Saturday October 4
 
 11 AM to 4 PM (CDT)
 
Celebrating the first 2 years of clean green electricity from 4 Kw of Solar Panels on an energy efficient passive solar home in Jackson County, TN!

- See the solar home as part of the National Solar Tour. For a list of solar tours: www.ases.org/tour

Visit the solar home of Brian Paddock & Mary Mastin and learn about these energy efficient features:
·Active solar - 4 kw photovoltaic panels, Sunny Boy innverter, TVA Generation Partners ·Passive solar - All glass on south side, 4 ft. overhangs that keep sun out April-Oct.
·Geothermal heat and air ·Cool tubes ·Solartube light
Heliocol Solar water heater for lap swimming pool

Stay Afterwards for a Beer- 4pm to 8pm.  Some snacks provided.Sierra Club 2009 Calendars for Sale. Your Contributionof $10 will support the environmental organization of your choice (SOCM, Sierra, Tn. Environmental Council).

Directions: 360 Roberts Hollow Lane, Cookeville, TN. 38501 (931-268-2938) Going north out of Cookeville on HWY 135 (Burgess Falls Rd, Willow St. Exit off Interstate 40), approx. 4 mi. past Jackson County Line, after Dodson Branch Elementary School on right and Community Center on left, take first left (opposite Dodson Branch Baptist Church) on to Lankford Hill. Take second road to left, Roberts Hollow Lane & follow that past our gate to the end at our cedar house at the top of the hill.
 
Action Alert I - Mountain Top Removal 
Help Protect Tennessee from Mountain Top Removal Coal Mining
 
The Cumberland Mountains of Tennessee are home to wildlife and other natural resources unique to this region and found nowhere else in the world. The Big South Fork National River alone is home to 12 federally endangered species of fish and mussels. Historically, the Cumberland Mountains have also been home to small-scale coal mining operations, but reserves in the area are so small and profit margins so thin that most mining operations ceased years ago. The rising price of coal has fueled renewed interest in coal mining in the Cumberland, but this is not our grandfather's coal mining. Although, some traditional "deep mine" coal mining operations do exist in the Cumberland Mountains, an alarming number of "cross-ridge" or mountain top removal mines are operating, with many more in the process of being permitted. Mining conducted in this way uses large amounts of explosives to literally bomb the land off the mountains. Once the top of the mountain is destroyed the remaining rubble is piled back to a mere semblance of the original mountain, sprayed with non-native grasses that provide little to no benefit to local wildlife, and left for future generations to deal with the moonscape.
 
It is Not Too Late
 
Last year the Tennessee Scenic Vistas Protection Act nearly passed the Tennessee State legislature. The Bill would have effectively eliminated mountain top removal coal mining in the state of Tennessee. The two part bill would effectively (1) codify the Tennessee Department of Environmental Qualities unwritten policy which requires strip mine operations leave a 100-foot buffer zone on all Tennessee waters near which strip coal mining occurs; and (2) prevent mountain top removal mining on ridgetops above 2,000 feet in elevation in Tennessee, although other forms of mining above this elevation would still be allowed. Efforts are underway to introduce a similar bill in the 2009 State Legislative session.  The bill would not eliminate coal mining in Tennessee, but would protect our mountains from the ruinous practice of cross-ridge/ mountain top removal mining. If Governor Bredesen makes the passage of a comprehensive mining policy a legislative priority, we could pass a bill in 2009!
 
Contact Governor Bredesen - Here's a sample letter:
 
Dear Governor Bredesen,
 
As a Tennessean I care deeply for our Cumberland Mountains. I am concerned that mountain top removal style coal mining exists and is expanding throughout the Cumberlands, swiftly destroying our Tennessee heritage. I am writing today to urge you to make the protection of the Cumberlands from the devastating effects of mountain top coal mining a priority for your administration in the 2009 Legislative Session.
 
Respectfully Yours,
 
Contact: marymastin @ twlakes.net.
Upper Cumberland Group Sierra Club | 360 Roberts Hollow Lane | Cookeville | TN | 38501