News release from state Department of Agriculture:
NASHVILLE – Purple three-sided insect traps that resemble a box kite can be seen in ash trees across Tennessee in the next few months as part of a surveillance program by state and federal agencies.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA, APHIS) and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) are partnering to survey for Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), a non-native, wood-boring beetle that has killed tens of millions of ash trees in the eastern United States and Canada.
“Trapping is a very important tool for us to know how extensive the infestation is and whether additional control measures are needed to slow it from spreading to new areas,” TDA Plant Certification administrator Gray Haun said. “This year, as last year, traps have been placed across the state as a part of a national survey program.”
The goal of the trapping program is to provide a more complete national assessment and to locate new infestations for possible treatment and quarantine. Nearly 1,400 traps have been placed in trees across Tennessee by state and federal officials and private contractors.
WASHINGTON — The U.S. House voted Friday to block federal environmental officials from regulating ash from coal-fired power plants as a hazardous waste, prompting an outcry from watchdog groups that charged the decision would jeopardize public health.
More from Michael Collins:
The legislation, which passed on a 267 to 144 vote, would grant states the authority to set their own standards for coal-ash disposal but would prohibit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from regulating the residue as a hazardous material.
The Obama administration is in the process of developing the first-ever federal regulations for coal ash disposal in light of the catastrophic ash spill at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Kingston Fossil Plant in Kingston on Dec. 22, 2008. One of the proposals under consideration would treat coal ash as a hazardous substance.
But lawmakers from coal-producing states including Tennessee argue that would devastate the coal industry, raise electricity bills and kill the market for recycled coal ash, which is used in road construction and building materials.
“We cannot afford to let the EPA put more Americans out of work,” said U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., who accused the Obama administration of an “ideological war on Appalachian jobs.”
U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., who authored the legislation, blasted environmentalists for what he described as “an anti-coal agenda.”
“This is not a time for people who dislike fossil fuels to be pushing their personal ideologies,” McKinley said, noting the nation’s stubbornly high unemployment rate.
Under McKinely’s bill, states would have the power to handle coal ash disposal as if it were household waste. The ash would have to be placed in landfills that are fitted with liners to protect groundwater, and monitors would have to be in place to test water for contamination. However, the rules would not apply to ash already stored in surface ponds or impoundments.
Opponents argued the bill would jeopardize public safety because it would not require adequate safeguards to prevent water supplies from being contaminated by arsenic, lead and other hazardous materials found in coal ash.
Furthermore, they said, it would allow for a patchwork of state regulations that would vary widely from one state to another and would leave the federal government powerless to deal with what is a national problem.
Rutherford County Circuit Court Judge Don Ash, who serves on the state Court of the Judiciary and last week completed a four-year term as its presiding judge, tells the Daily News Journal that that the panel is working responsibly but he has no problem with efforts to improve it. “I think it’s important that we maintain the independence of the judiciary,” Ash said, “but it’s also important that the Legislature has a say in regaArd to the discipline process. So, I believe it’s important that both of those groups have input into the membership and the disciplinary functions and the rules about how the court operates.”
Retired Judge J.S. “Steve” Daniel isn’t quite as diplomatic.
Daniel calls efforts by the Legislature to change the scope and makeup of the court a “power” grab and possibly even an attempt to “sunset,” or end, the court, which he says isn’t so much a court as a judicial disciplinary commission.
“I think it’s basically the Legislature trying to take control over who makes these decisions,” said Daniel, who presided over the Court of the Judiciary from 1999 to 2004 and served as chief disciplinary counsel from 2007 to June 2010. “I think the court is operating as it should be.”
The Court of the Judiciary, which would be abolished and replaced with appointees of the House and Senate speakers under pending legislation, has a new presiding officer and declares it is offering “new detail” about its operations in an annual report.
The report for the fiscal year ended June 30 says 350 complaints about Tennessee judges were received and action was taken on 334 were closed during the period. Fifteen judges received a reprimand during the year – nine of those reprimands made public and the other six kept private.
Link to the full report HERE.
Previous post on the legislative “task force” set up to study the Court of the Judiciary is HERE.
News release on the new presiding judge of the Court of the Judiciary and the report is below.
A new report says groundwater contamination from coal ash has been found at Gallatin and eight of the nine other Tennessee Valley Authority fossil power plant sites where testing is being done, reports Anne Paine. Levels of toxic substances found at the Gallatin plant site in Sumner County and at the Cumberland site, 50 miles northwest of Nashville, are high enough that they could create a health hazard, the report says. Beryllium, cadmium and nickel levels are above drinking water standards at Gallatin, as are arsenic, selenium and vanadium at Cumberland.
One major surprise also showed up in the review by TVA’s Office of Inspector General: For more than a decade, the TVA had been finding substances in groundwater at its Allen coal-fired plant in Memphis that indicated toxic metals could be leaking from a coal ash pond there.
Arsenic above today’s allowable levels was found repeatedly in a monitoring well on the site, which is in a sensitive location. The plant and its ash ponds lie above a deep, high-quality aquifer that supplies drinking water to Memphis and nearby areas.