COVID-19 Update: Read about the most recent Sierra Club guidelines here.
Jacobs Solutions says it has negotiated a settlement with Kingston coal ash workers. "Jacobs Solutions said it has negotiated a settlement in lawsuits filed by Kingston coal ash cleanup workers and their families. Jacobs was the Tennessee Valley Authority's contractor in charge of sitewide safety and health during the cleanup of the 2008 coal ash spill in East Tennessee. 'In 2023, to avoid further litigation, the parties chose to enter into an agreement to resolve the cases. The terms of this settlement are confidential,'
Jacobs posted on its website." Read more by Anila Yoganathan - Knoxville News Sentinel - May 22, 2023. TVA proposes gas plant, 122-mile pipeline for notorious Kingston site. "Months after the Tennessee Valley Authority committed to building a gas plant and pipeline in Middle Tennessee, the federal utility is proposing another 1.5-gigawatt fossil fuel project in East Tennessee. The federal utility announced Friday that it plans to build natural gas facilities to replace coal generation at its Kingston Fossil Plant, the site where the nation’s worst coal ash spill occurred in 2008."
Read more by Caroline Eggers - WPLN - May 14, 2023.
'Listening session' produces questions about Bull Run site. "Citizens in attendance discussed issues such as climate change concerns, worker safety during the Kingston coal ash spill, blackouts, the merits of natural gas and renewable energy, and TVA’s history." Read more by Ben Pounds - The Courier News - May 17, 2023.
On May 9, 2023, the day before the TVA Board met in Norris, Tenn, supporters stood in solidarity as J.T. Neal read the Clean Up TVA Coalition's comment to the board at a TVA "Listening Session." Many of the dozens of community members present also commented. Photo credit: Todd Waterman.
Landfill developer sues Marshall/Maury County over denial of project on Monsanto site.
"The litigation follows months of community backlash over plans announced by Trinity Business Group — Remedial Holdings’ parent company — to build a large-scale trash, recycling and incineration facility on the old Monsanto property — conflict that has unfolded on social media, in local county and city government meetings, and at the state legislature...'Even if the decision of the Marshall-Maury Regional Solid Waste Board is reversed, the applicants will have to address the concerns of the communities of Maury County and the City of Columbia under the Jackson Law and the recent designation of the Duck River through Maury County as a Class II Scenic River,' said Scott Banbury."
Read more by Anita Wadhwani - Tennessee Lookout - May 12, 2023.
Nashville rainstorms are getting wetter. How much? 12% wetter in the past five decades. "Climate change is causing precipitation to increase for two main reasons: The atmosphere is getting warmer, so it can physically hold more water, and atmospheric circulation patterns are changing. From a basic perspective, more rain can mean more flooding. But the science of how climate change affects flooding is a little more complex. 'The direction of the storm, even the velocity … plays a significant role in flooding,' said Gabriel Perez Mesa, a researcher at Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Climate Change Science Institute."
Read more by Caroline Eggers - WPLN - May 16, 2023.
Allison Chin Elected as Sierra Club Board President. "Allison Chin was elected to serve as president (one-year term) of the Sierra Club’s Board of Directors. This is Chin’s fourth term as president. She was the first person of color to ever serve in this role. A veteran of the Board, Chin is currently serving in her fourth term (May 2022 - May 2025) and 10th year on the Sierra Club Board of Directors. Chin succeeds Ramón Cruz as president." Read Sierra Club press release - May 22, 2023. To learn more about Allison Chin, read "
Meet Allison Chin, Sierra Club Trailblazer" by Nicole Pollack (Aug. 2021).
Sierra Club Board of Directors (2023) smiles for a photo on a farm near Joelton, Tenn. Ben Jealous, new Executive Director of the Sierra Club, had requested that the Tennessee Chair, Cris Corley, give a presentation to the national board regarding Tennessee’s future in hosting major Sierra Fest events. Allison Chin is front-center (light blue shirt). Cris Corley is directly behind her, and Ben Jealous is behind him. Rita Harris is on the left (velvet shirt). Learn more about continuing and newly elected board members
Health & Justice
EPA releases new climate pollution limits. President Biden and EPA Administrator Michael Regan announced stringent new limits on climate pollution from power plants! These standards are part of a suite of federal tools that the administration will use to help our country meet our recent climate commitments.
TVA report: Winter storm that led to blackouts cost the utility and its customers $170M. "The December storm that led to the Tennessee Valley Authority's first rolling blackouts in its history cost the federal utility about $170 million, according to a TVA-produced report. The report released May 5 by TVA not only describes the breakdowns that led to the rolling blackouts in the bitter cold days before Christmas, but lists weaknesses in TVA's system that must be addressed as climate change increases the chances of severe weather and the demand for electricity continues to rise." Read more
- Knoxville News Sentinel - May 5, 2023.
Supreme Court Limits E.P.A.’s Power to Address Water Pollution. "The Supreme Court on Thursday curtailed the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority
to police water pollution, ruling that the Clean Water Act does not allow the agency to regulate discharges into some wetlands near bodies of water. The court held that the law covers only wetlands 'with a continuous surface connection' to those waters, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote for five justices. The decision was nominally unanimous, with all the justices agreeing that the homeowners who brought the case should not have been subject to the agency’s oversight. But there was sharp disagreement about the majority’s reasoning." Read more by Adam Liptak - The New York Times - May 25, 2023.
Ninety years after its founding, it’s time TVA became a national leader again | Opinion. "The Tennessee Valley Authority was founded to tackle one of the most critical problems of the 1930s: poverty in the rural South. When President Franklin Roosevelt signed the TVA Act, only 3% of Tennessee farms had electricity, and the average yearly income in the Tennessee Valley was just $168 — roughly half of the national average... Now, 90 years later, we face another critical problem with climate change, the effects of which are already being felt by communities across the Tennessee Valley. Temperatures are rising, droughts are longer, flooding is more common and storms are more extreme."
Read more by Amanda Garcia, Guest columnist - Commercial Appeal - May 26, 2023.
State naturalist Randy Hedgepath describes a species along the trail to the base of Falls Creek Falls at the Tennessee Chapter Spring Retreat in April. Photo credit: Todd Waterman.
Statewide environmental events listed chronologically.
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Bike Boat Brew & Bark in Knoxville, Tenn. Saturday, June 3 kicks off a day full of activities in and around Knoxville's riverfront. With a nod to recognizing that clean water is important for recreation, this event is sponsored by Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful, Outdoor Knoxville, and many more. Learn more here.
Public Scoping meeting for IRP on June 7. TVA is hosting a virtual public meeting to hear comments about the 2024 Integrated Resource Plan. Share your thoughts for what TVA and stakeholders should consider while evaluating options to meet the long-term energy demand in the Valley. Register here for the meeting on Wed. June 7 at 12:00-1:30 ET.
Office of Land and Emergency Management EJ Community Engagement Session. "EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management (OLEM) is hosting its second 2023 environmental justice (EJ) community engagement session during which we will present updates on EJ efforts within OLEM and EPA, with a heavy focus on projects in the OLEM EJ Action Plan. Each presentation will be followed by a live, open to the public feedback opportunity." Register here for event held Thurs. June 8 at 3:00 pm.
Tennessee River Volunteer Cleanup. "Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful is proud to continue the 3rd annual Chickamauga Lake Cleanup Weekend presented by iSustain." This two-day river cleanup near Soddy Daisy, Tenn. will be Friday, June 9 from 5:00 pm - 7:30 pm, and Saturday, June 10 from 10:00 am - 2:00 pm. Register for one or both days here.
Juneteenth is June 19th. Sometimes called Jubilee Day, Juneteenth is a commemoration day in honor of the 250,000 enslaved people in Texas who were notified of their freedom two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation. On June 17, 2021, Pres. Joe Biden signed an act recognizing Juneteenth as a federal holiday. There are a variety of events and celebrations across the state to celebrate Juneteenth!
Three Easy Fundraising Hacks for Your Group
By Mac Post
The Tennessee Chapter has 4 Groups: Chickasaw (Memphis area), Middle Tennessee (Nashville area), Cherokee (Chattanooga area), and Harvey Broome Group (Knoxville area) that do amazing work at a very local scale. They need funding to be an effective voice for Tennessee’s environment. Fortunately, the Sierra Club has given us some tools to raise funds easily. These are:
On each Group’s webpage, there is a red DONATE button at the top right of the page. This directs you to a secure webpage where donations are deposited directly into the Group’s bank account. Access the appropriate link here: Chickasaw, Middle TN,
Harvey Broome, or
On the same Group webpage there is a red JOIN button. If a new member clicks on the JOIN button in the upper right corner of the Group’s webpage and signs up for a $39 membership, the Group gets a commission of $39 back! So encourage people to join through our Chapter webpage rather than using the National Sierra Club website, phone, or mail.
Know someone that would enjoy being a Sierra Club member? Surprise them with a gift membership! If you use the following link for gift memberships to new members, your Group will get the commissions. To find the Gift Membership link for your group go to the link on the Chapter’s website here.
Please help your Group by using these convenient methods of donating. Donations through the above links are not tax deductible as they support our effective, citizen-based advocacy and lobbying efforts.
Dear Eartha: Advice from an Eco-Guru
Nancy Bell, the Tennessee Sierra Club’s Vice Chair, asked these questions in her article in the May/June issue of The Tennes-Sierran—”What is our role in maintaining the integrity of Earth’s wide net woven around us? How do we keep the living web from unraveling?” These questions affected meprofoundly. As we celebrate Juneteenth and as the earth’s temperatures reach the boiling over point, do you think there is any hope for us and our beautiful blue planet? — Hopeless in Hohenwald
I, too, read Bell’s piece and was captivated by her prose and her questions. Seems to me, our role is to get saddled down into the “we” aspect of that challenge. Policy changes, as far as I can tell, are the safest and surest way to “keep the living web from unraveling.” Bringing our canvas or recycled plastic grocery bags to the Kroger ain’t enough. We have to join forces, donate money, show up for rallies and protests, read to be informed, and stay informed. We must walk the talk, and share the facts, not the vague whatevers. How we get to the policy change point, however, is a tangled trail each individual creatively forges.
But, as Bell’s article also recommended, we have to stay hopeful and experience the natural world we want to protect. Burnout and fear threaten to shut many of us down. I know I can only take so much until I can’t breathe—there is so much toxic news. So we must protect ourselves and get out into natureand be with the critters and the breezes and the beauty as much as possible. We have to make choices that sustain our sense of hopefulness and joy, for that is what will get us back onto the streets, into the board rooms, in front of the laptop, doing what we can as ordinary, thoughtful citizens of a shattered democracy to—how did Bell put it?—”contribute to the work of existence.”
Reading the Earth Charter (earthcharter.org), I felt amazed and gratified. Written in 1992, so much of what the Sierra Club embraces now was proposed in that document then. As we celebrate Juneteenth and press for racial, reproductive, and environmental justice while shaking our heads in astonishment that we still have to fight for these rights, I’m uplifted by the notions of equality and fairness and dignity expressed by the writers of the Earth Charter.
In mid-coast Maine, where I live, the abundance of artists, craftspeople, lobstermen, and small farmers embody a philosophy that every person is an artist in some form or other and has something to offer society based upon their particular artistic bent. What I’m focusing on is using that artistic pocket of our creative natures to contribute what we can to keep that living web alive. As Bell recommended in her article, become involved, however you can. This will help not only the earth’s resilience, but aid in eliminating what Vivek Murthy, US Surgeon General, called an “epidemic of loneliness and isolation” in America. As any child will tell you, if asked, we get energy and enthusiasm from energetic and enthusiastic peers.
So, Hopeless, you have every right to feel hopeless, but it’s a feeling and it will pass. When it does, make room for hope and then get into action. Celebrate Juneteenth and spread the message of environmental justice through concerted, connected action. That’s what I’ll be doing.
We’re in this together, and always,
Submit your questions and comments to the Sierra E-News Editor [Enews.email@example.com].Dear Eartha is penned by Rita Bullinger.
This month's featured species is: Lemon Beebalm (Monarda citriodora)
Lemon Beebalm is in the mint family (Lamiaceae) and grows 1 – 2.5 feet tall. Photo credit: Ron Shrieves.
Lemon beebalm, also known as purple horsemint or lemon mint, gives off a citrus or lemony scent when its leaves are crushed. It attracts bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.
The blooms are captivating, forming in dense, round clusters with narrow, serrate leaves. Colors range from lavender to pink to white. Each stem typically has 2 – 6 interrupted clusters of flowers.
Native to central and southern US and northern Mexico, Lemon beebalm blooms from May – August. It prefers full sun and can grow in large colonies, seeding itself and returning the next year.
The fragrant petals and young leaves can be added to tea, candies, or dried and added to potpourri.
The views expressed by contributors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Sierra Club.
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