The E3 Committee has been studying the Abandoned Mine Land Fund for the past few months, and it’s preparing to advocate for cleaning up mine sites and economic transition. In April, Chapter Chair Patrick Morales and members Bonnie Swinford and David Beaty attended an Appalachian regional summit on the AML fund to learn about how the fund operates and how citizens can influence its distribution. They also discussed the economic development opportunities in the federal government’s POWER Initiative and the proposed POWER+ Plan.
During the week after the meeting, the Chapter hosted Kendall Bilbrey and Eric Dixon, both Economic Transition Fellows from the Highlander Center, for an AML educational tour throughout Tennessee. The Fellows gave presentations in Monteagle, Crossville, and Rocky Top, each of which began a lively dialogue about the local economy and mining history. To answer some remaining questions, the Committee set up a meeting with OSM and TDEC officials in May.
The Chapter is working on building stronger relationships in counties throughout Tennessee to collaborate on projects inspired by these meetings. Chapter member David Wasilko and East Tennessee Organizer Adam Hughes toured an abandoned mine in Grundy County and met with members of the local Historical Society. Members are also preparing for presentations in front of government commissions in Roane and Cumberland Counties, with more to come. On July 18th, we will join the Green Collar Jobs Committee for a face-to-face meeting on how to take the next step on this important work.
Member Brian Paddock joined Adam Hughes in a visit to Rutherford County. They offered their support to the great work the Rutherford Chapter is doing to combat the Middle Point landfill and the Flat Rock junkyard and recruited more Middle Tennessee members to join the E3 Committee.
The E3 Committee also supported the Cumberland Chapter at the Turner Mine hearing, with Patrick Morales offering comments.
The Committee is preparing to resume the fight against the dangerous coal ash landfill proposed for Kingston. With the release of the revised permit in late May, the Chapter still believes that the dangers of the location have not been addressed, and the outreach for public participation has been insufficient. Chapter members are preparing to attend the public information session on June 9th to share their concerns.