The Environmental Journal of Southern Appalachia

Dulce Torres Guzman

Thursday, 22 September 2022 12:23

Enviros to TVA: Retire the fossil-fuel pacifier

Cumberland FPTVA’s Cumberland Fossil Plant near Clarksville is the subject of a suit filed by environmental groups, including Appalachian Voices and Southern Environmental Law Center.  Tennessee Valley Authority

SELC, others file suit in hopes of dissuading TVA from future fossil options

This story was originally published by Tennessee Lookout.

CLARKSVILLE — On behalf of the Tennessee Chapter of the Sierra Club and Appalachian Voices, the Southern Environmental Law Center asked TVA to prepare a supplemental environmental statement to address concerns with TVA’s draft environmental impact statement, which details the agency’s plans to retire the Cumberland Fossil Plant.

The Cumberland Fossil Plant, about 22 miles southwest of Clarksville, is TVA’s largest coal-fired power station and was built between 1968 and 1973. TVA plans to retire each unit of the two-unit, coal-fired steam-generation plant separately: one unit no later than 2030, and the second unit no later than 2033. But the plant will need to be replaced, and TVA is currently considering three alternatives to fossil fuel, including natural gas and solar energy, according to its draft EIS.

(Tennessee Valley Authority already plans to close down the Knoxville-area Bull Run fossil plant in Claxton next year).

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Handout from TVA Listening Session Aug. 30 2022Scott Banbury with the Tennessee Chapter of the Sierra Club said a handout provided at TVA’s Aug. 30 listening session stated recordings of the meeting were not allowed; a TVA spokesperson said recordings are, in fact, allowed. Flyer provided by Scott Banbury

Is TVA trying to gag its critics?

This story was originally published by Tennessee Lookout.

KNOXVILLE — While the Tennessee Valley Authority, a utility company that provides power to millions in Tennessee and other states, allows for public input into decisions, the process isn’t simple or transparent, say some regular attendees.

Take, for instance, a recent public listening session: representatives of the Tennessee Chapter of the Sierra Club say they were told they could not record the session despite a spokesman for TVA saying the opposite.

According to TVA spokesperson Scott Brooks, attendees are always allowed to record public meetings, provided they don’t cause a disturbance, but minutes before the session, members of the Tennessee chapter of the Sierra Club were prohibited from doing so.

TVA 1 2048x1365A hopper car on a train filled with coal to be delivered to a TVA coal-fired plant. John Partipilo/Tennessee Lookout

Climate bill designates TVA as a potential recipient of clean energy investments and loans

This story was originally published by Tennessee Lookout.

KNOXVILLE  Clean-energy advocates are urging the Tennessee Valley Authority to use funds provided through the Inflation Reduction Act to deliver environmentally friendly energy to Tennessee customers. 

The massive bill Congress passed Friday includes $370 billion for clean energy investments and listed TVA as an entity that is eligible to take advantage of clean energy credits and loans to significantly reduce the cost of energy-efficient infrastructure. 

On Aug. 12, the Clean Up TVA Coalition, including the Sierra Club, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and Appalachian Voices, urged TVA to take advantage of the legislation and make funds available to its affiliated local power companies, which can then offer energy-efficient options for customers.

GOP-led Legislature aims to ban local decisions on fossil-fuel infrastructure

This story was originally published by Tennessee Lookout.

Per updated TL reporting, this bill was deferred to March 15 for committee consideration.

Memphis activist Justin Pearson spent years trying to pass legislation to protect his city’s natural drinking water, but a bill being fast tracked through the state Legislature is threatening his efforts.  

Last week, environmental activists learned that Rep. Kevin Vaughan, R-Collierville, and Sen. Ken Yager, R-Kingston, are seeking to pass a bill aimed at removing local government control over land use zoning for fossil fuel infrastructure. 

Both the Tennessee State House and Senate Commerce Committees will vote on HB2246 and SB2077 on Tuesday, and if the bill passes, it could be on the Legislature floor by Thursday. 

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Citing a dearth of grocery stores and healthy food options, Memphis officials mull action 

This story was originally published by Tennessee Lookout.

“In the poorest Memphis neighborhoods, gas stations serve as the nearest and sometimes the only store with groceries for nearby communities, albeit ones offering unhealthy fast and convenience foods. The University of Memphis noted that the city’s overall poverty rate is 21.7 percent, and rates are even higher among communities of color and among children, with a child poverty rate of 35 percent.”

In some areas of Memphis, there are more gas stations than grocery stores. While a citywide moratorium placed a hold on new gas stations, businesses are still seeking permission from City Council to open against the wishes of local communities.

In March, City Council voted in favor of halting permitting of any new gas stations. Businesses now need to go through the Land Use Control Board of Memphis and Shelby County for permission, and their request would need final approval from City Council. 

“It seemed like every week we were passing an ordinance to allow two or three more service stations and we didn’t  feel like we had a handle on it. We felt like that needed to calm down,” said Councilman Jeff Warren.

At an October meeting, council members debated whether Broad Avenue needed another gas station (and convenience store). Hundreds of residents in the nearby neighborhoods signed a petition urging council members to vote against allowing another gas station in their community. 

“We do not want nor need a gas station at this site. That would make four gas stations within a mile radius. . .I fully expect you to listen to the money, rather than the neighbors,” said one resident.

Council members concluded the meeting without making a decision, opting to delay the vote for a month, but the response from local residents was clear: there were more than enough gas stations in communities needing other types of stores. 

“Who in their right mind would add a fourth gas station on a street that’s a mile long?” said another resident.

Over the span of 20 to 30 years, Memphis officials permitted gas station after gas station to open throughout the city to the point that “there’s 10 times more per population than Nashville has,” said Warren. 

Gas service stations are a lucrative business. According to Forbes, the market relies on minimizing the distance that consumers have to travel, and competition means that at any given intersection, gas stations are often located on each corner. 

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