Saturday, July 28, 2007
While Tennesseans appreciate the attention given to the current energy debate in the Congress by U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, many Tennesseans also realize that navigating the issue surrounding so-called clean energy is like finding your way through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park with a candle.There is growing controversy over sacrificing our stateâ€™s natural resources. Itâ€™s the question of powering our lives with a form of electricity as old as coal, while East Tennessee watersheds are being destroyed by mountaintop removal and strip mining means we can no longer sing â€œRocky Topâ€ at University of Tennessee football games.
Common sense tells Tennesseans that words like â€œclean energy,â€ â€œalternative fuels,â€ â€œenergy efficiencyâ€ and political leadersâ€™ favorite â€œenergy independence,â€ mean that robbing Peter to pay Paul will not solve the problem.
The visual eyesore of miles of mountaintop removal mining of West Virginia, Virginia and Kentucky makes Tennesseans cry for this nation of a lost generation. We deliberately chose to destroy our air, land and water â€” for energy that we already have other answers for.
This eats away at the very foundation of early Tennessee conservation.
It steals from Tennesseans tax dollars designated to clean up impaired watersheds from past impacts.
It still leaves our grandchildren to the mercy of the energy industries.
Before Congress and the Tennessee delegation vote on any bills to address this nationâ€™s energy needs, we need to first look at where we are going and how to get there.
Letting special interests decide our way is how we got to this place of being dependent on energy industries to start with. Are wind turbines and any other alternative the answer?
Harry Truman would say, show me the evidence that wind turbines are more of an eyesore than 10 miles of mountaintop removal in East Tennessee.
What are the future demands and supply of energy in this nation? More cars in driveways. What are the long-term conservation plans for large cities to meet transportation demands?
Save Our Cumberland Mountains has been dealing with the issue since the early â€™90s. The supply-and-demand issues are just part of the debate.
What is clear to all is that our political and civic leaders have chosen to pass the answer to the problem to the next generation.
The real challenge to Alexander and other members of the Tennessee delegation is making sure we still have a Tennessee to give to our great-grandchildren.
I hope that we do not disappoint our youth with an answer of more fossil fuel or nuclear power but a new vision.
I urge everyone to get involved with this issue. It is your familyâ€™s future, too.
Landon Medley, resident of Van Buren County, Tenn.; served on the Save Our Cumberland Mountains Stripmine Issues Committee for 20 years. He is a former county commissioner and a former vice president of the Greater Van Buren County-Spencer Chamber of Commerce. He currently is working on SOCMâ€™s campaign to end mountaintop mining in East Tennessee and our nationâ€™s dependency on fossil energy by seeking other alternative energy resources for the United States. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.