More than 1,200 Tennesseans are projected to be employed in good mining and ancillary jobs when the state is granted primacy over the industry.
Biden: ‘Can’t wait any longer’ on climate crisis
President Joe Biden signed executive orders Wednesday undertaking what could be the most ambitious effort yet to cut America’s oil, gas and coal emissions while looking to create jobs and stave off the worst effects of climate change. (Jan. 27)
- Dennis Powers lives in Jacksboro and represents House District 36 in the Tennessee General Assembly.
In this year’s session of the 112th Tennessee General Assembly, I was proud to sponsor legislation with my colleague state Sen. Ken Yager, R-Kingston, that will finish our fight to bring Tennessee’s surface coal mining industry back under the state’s control. House Bill 90 advances fair, responsive and efficient state control, rather than federal regulation of Tennessee surface coal mining and reclamation.
What the Primacy and Reclamation Act will mean
Tennessee is the only state in the union without a state-regulated surface coal mining program. In 2018, I sponsored the Primacy and Reclamation Act of Tennessee, which directs the governor’s administration to develop a state oversight program for surface mining. House Bill 90 makes necessary changes to the state’s program by guaranteeing our plan is at least as stringent as the federal government’s. It ensures Tennessee has the financial capability to administer the program.
What does this mean for Tennesseans and, more importantly, the Volunteer State’s coal mining industry?
It means that more than 1,200 Tennesseans are projected to be employed in good mining and ancillary jobs when we are granted primacy. Compared to about 25 people currently working in coal mining, this is a 4,700% increase in coal mining jobs that will be offered to Tennessee residents.
It means that after the federal government provides $2.1 million in start-up costs and we begin mining, this will be a revenue-producing program that will pay for itself.
It means mining will be improved and environmentally clean because we have the technology to mine old, abandoned surface mines and then reclaim them. This mitigates erosion, improves water quality and restores the natural beauty of the area.
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Opponents of the legislation have argued the recurring funds allocated for this project are unnecessary and a waste of taxpayer dollars. I couldn’t disagree more. These funds are an investment in our state’s natural resources and our talented workforce. Without a doubt, it will have a long-lasting and beneficial impact on Tennessee’s future economic growth and success.
Washington bureaucrats shouldn’t manage Tennessee surface mining
It allows us to do mining the Tennessee way: by creating more private-sector jobs, taking care of Tennesseans first and managing our own oversight rather than letting bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. do so.
Further, the figures cited by some critics are not based in reality. The federal government — not the state — will pay the $2.1 million tab for the initial two years through a development grant. The removal of burdensome regulations and permitting processes will allow the mining industry to prosper. Tennessee’s initial cost is $871,000. However, the program is expected to pay for itself and create a revenue surplus for the state.
Tennessee is a strong, pro-business state with a thriving economy because Republicans have delivered on the promise to make sure our state is the best place in the nation to work, live and raise a family.
Tennessee is already home to world-class manufacturing, agriculture, health care and entertainment industries. Regaining control of surface mining in Tennessee will allow us to say the same of our coal industry.
Coal mining is an industry worth investing in. Primacy allows us to do it the Tennessee way.
Dennis Powers lives in Jacksboro and represents House District 36 in the Tennessee General Assembly.