- Dennis Powers lives in Jacksboro and represents House District 36 at the Tennessee General Assembly.
At this year’s session of the 112th Tennessee General Assembly, I was proud to sponsor legislation with my colleague, Senator Ken Yager, R-Kingston, that will end our fight to bring back the coal mining industry. open pit of Tennessee under state control. House Bill 90 advances fair, responsive and effective 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 that does not have a state-regulated surface coal mining program. In 2018, I sponsored the Tennessee Primacy and Reclamation Act, which orders the governor’s administration to develop a state oversight program for surface mining. House Bill 90 makes the necessary changes to the state program ensuring that our plan is at least as strict as that of the federal government. This ensures that Tennessee has the financial capacity to administer the program.
What does this mean for the people of Tennessee and, more importantly, for the voluntary state coal industry?
This means that over 1,200 Tennesséens are expected to be employed in good mining and auxiliary jobs when we are given primacy. Compared to about 25 people currently working in coal mines, this is a 4,700% increase in coal mining jobs that will be available to residents of Tennessee.
This means that once the federal government provides $ 2.1 million in start-up costs and we begin mining, it will be a self-financing, revenue-generating program.
This means that mining will be improved and environmentally friendly because we have the technology to mine the old abandoned surface mines and then recover them. This mitigates erosion, improves water quality and restores the natural beauty of the area.
Hear more voices from Tennessee:Receive the weekly opinion bulletin for insightful and thought-provoking columns.
Opponents of the legislation argued that the recurring funds allocated to this project are unnecessary and a waste of taxpayer money. I couldn’t disagree more. These funds are an investment in our state’s natural resources and our talented workforce. Without a doubt, this will have a lasting and beneficial impact on Tennessee’s future economic growth and success.
Washington bureaucrats shouldn’t run surface mining in Tennessee
This allows us to do mining the Tennessee way: by creating more jobs in the private sector, taking care of the Tennessee first and running our own oversight rather than leaving the bureaucrats in Washington, DC do it.
In addition, the figures cited by some critics are not based on reality. The federal government – not the state – will foot the bill of $ 2.1 million for the first two years through a development grant. Removing restrictive regulations and licensing processes will allow the mining industry to thrive. Tennessee’s initial cost is $ 871,000. However, the program is expected to be self-financing and create a revenue surplus for the government.
Tennessee is a strong, business-friendly state with a thriving economy because Republicans have kept their promise to make our state the best place in the country to work, live, and raise a family.
Tennessee is already home to world-class manufacturing, agriculture, healthcare, and entertainment industries. Taking back control of surface mining in Tennessee will allow us to say the same for 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 at the Tennessee General Assembly.