Here is your Legislative Update and Action Alert from Tennessee Conservation Voters

Legislative Update and Action Alert 3/24 /2017
CAFOs, Coal and Captions!

Coal Mining Primacy and Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation Regulations are major items on the next week's calendar. In this update, we want to shine a light on the problems with SB899/HB1017 regarding the deregulation of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). Though many of us are unfamiliar with TDEC's CAFO program, its disappearance would be a tragedy for water quality and business in the state.

This weekend we hope you will contact key legislators to resist the return of coal mining primacy and the deregulation of CAFOs.

As if these weren't enough, we expect even more caption bills to be amended and show their true colors. Stay tuned for updates.

Like us on Facebook

Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations

SB899/HB1017 By Bell/Hawk began as a caption bill but was recently amended to delete Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation's Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations program. (For more info on CAFOs, click here.) This is a real problem for water quality and citizens of the state.


  • This bill will cause confusion. CAFO operators will still be required to operate under the Water Quality Control Act with a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit, but this could make people think they don't need a permit at all. It sends mixed messages.
  • TDEC will be unable to work with farmers to implement best practices. They will only become aware of issues after they happen, instead of stopping problems before they start. As a result, discharge will only be dealt with on a retroactive basis, which by definition will be after a bunch of runoff is flowing into our streams.
  • As citizens become aware that TDEC is not permitting CAFOs and we start reporting suspected issues, TDEC will have to investigate our complaints with costly man-hours that could be better spent in other ways.
  • When waters inevitably become impaired by CAFO discharges other downstream facilities will have stricter permits. This could impact our local water treatment facilities and manufacturers who employ many Tennesseans.
  • This bill was amended on the last calendar of House Agriculture Subcommittee and the amendment and fiscal note are not even up on the state website! It looks very much like a rush job. The General Assembly needs to pump the breaks and let citizens give some input!
Please tell members of the Senate Energy Committee and  House Agriculture Committee to vote down SB899/HB1017!

Coal Mining Legislation Update

SB686/HB571 by Yager and Powers passed House Agriculture Subcommittee on Wednesday. It began the session as a bill simply to study issues related to mining but was amended at the last second to bring Coal Mining Primacy back to Tennessee!

This bill is a waste of Tennessee taxpayer's money. Funds generated from coal mining do not come close to covering the cost of regulating coal mining. Per the bill's own fiscal note, we will be paying hundreds of thousands of dollars a year and relying on uncertain federal funds to offset the cost of regulating something that the federal government does for free!

If that wasn't enough, coal mining is also on the decline. If revenue from coal can't cover the cost right now, then it certainly won't as profits from coal mining disappear!

We would also like to point out that the 67 page amendment that makes the bill was just attached on Wednesday. We do not believe that a vote this week will give stakeholders enough time to weigh in.

Let the Senate Energy and the House Agriculture committees know that this is an abuse of process and a bad use of taxpayer resources!

Like us on Facebook