SOCM fights against social, economic, and environmental injustices. As a member-driven organization, the issues confronting communities in Tennessee have driven our work. We organize around several important issues in our state, including:

Standing Up For Clean Water

It is estimated that about 30% of Tennessee’s streams are so polluted that they can no longer support aquatic life. Even more streams are considered unsafe for recreational use. This has a huge impact on communities throughout our state, especially in rural areas. This widespread pollution not only endangers human health, but also results in higher utility costs as the water treatment process becomes more expensive. People depend on clean, drinkable water. Water is polluted by heavy metals and chemicals from mining or waste disposal, threatening human health and our natural biodiversity.

Many of our chapters have worked on water quality justice campaigns. Our members work to ensure laws regarding water quality are strengthened and enforced by pushing for a stronger Stream Protection Rule, speaking out against irresponsible permits, and holding violators accountable. Whether it is protecting land threatened by polluting coalmine activity or fighting reckless solid waste practices, our organization is committed to safeguarding this basic right for everyone in Tennessee.

Health and Environmental Effects of Extractive Processes (Mountaintop Removal, Fracking, Mining, etc.)

Numerous studies have shown a clear link between extreme extraction, such as mountaintop removal mining and shale gas extraction, and negative effects on human health. SOCM unreservedly opposes the practice of mountaintop removal that has a devastating effect on the economic and environmental well being of communities throughout Appalachia.

Education Justice

Public education, the cornerstone of our democracy, is under attack in Tennessee. Public funding is being diverted away from public schools, funneled instead to privately managed charter schools that lack accountability and transparency. Our classrooms face massive budget cuts that leave our kids without the resources they need to succeed. Meanwhile, our elected officials avoid addressing the real barriers to student achievement (social problems like poverty and violence) and instead scapegoat our public school teachers. Powerful out-of-state interests are working to sell off our public schools and turn a valued community institution into a for-profit business.

Our Social Justice Committee is organizing across the state to defend public education. For more info on the SJC and how to get involved, click here.

Promoting Energy Efficiency

On a global scale, the release of carbon into the atmosphere is causing climate catastrophe that threatens our planet for generations. On an individual level, inflated energy bills are squeezing paychecks of families struggling to get by. SOCM works with utilities and homeowners to develop affordable home weatherization programs, saving money and reducing the need for burning fossil fuels.

Bringing Green-Collar Jobs to Tennessee / Economic Diversification

The people of Tennessee deserve an economy that will outlast the fossil fuels below their feet. Our state has incredible natural resources, and a sustainable economy can preserve the beauty of our mountains and plains while providing a good livelihood for each of our citizens. SOCM works to make Tennessee a leader in renewable energy generation and sustainable business practices.

Affordable Housing

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Government Accountability

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Solid Waste / Hazardous Waste

SOCM has consistently projected a vision for sustainable solid waste practices. We have fought reckless environmental practices of landfill operators and worked to ensure the safe containment of toxic industrial waste such as coal ash. We recognize that the rural poor and communities of color disproportionately suffer the consequences of harmful solid waste policies. In addressing local struggles in communities around the state, we aim to work towards a comprehensive, sustainable solid waste policy for Tennessee with recycling, composting, and social justice at its core.