ATLANTA (AP) – The governors of three Southern states are lifting restrictions on the number of hours that truck drivers delivering fuel can work, hoping to prevent shortages in both states after the shutdown of a pipeline that spilled at least 252,000 gallons of gasoline in rural Alabama.
Governors can suspend federal transportation regulations during emergencies. (Note: Gov. Bill Haslam’s news release on his executive order is HERE.)
Colonial Pipeline has said most of the leaked gasoline is contained in a retention pond near the city of Helena and there’s no public safety concern. The spill was first detected on Sept. 9, but it’s not clear when it began.
The company increased its estimate of the spill’s size on Friday, saying it was between 252,000 and 336,000 gallons. Colonial doesn’t expect to fully reopen the pipeline until next week. The pipeline runs from Texas to New Jersey, supplying fuel to states in the Southeast and on the East Coast.
Colonial said that supply disruptions would be felt first in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina.
Democratic congressional candidate Dr. Mary Headrick says she would support a barge fuel tax increase to finance repair and construction at Chickamauga lock, reports the Chattanooga Times-Free Press.
“The Chickamauga lock should be replaced,” she said in a statement. “Until replaced, it should be repaired and remain in operation. … I favor increasing the marine diesel fuel per gallon tax, as favored by barge operators.”
In doing so, the Maynardville, Tenn., Democrat and acute care physician defied her opponent, U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, who has rejected a barge tax increase from 20 cents to 29 cents per gallon of diesel fuel. But the freshman Republican has opposed tax increases of any kind, partially owing to a political pledge he signed.
Fleischmann’s opposition has also put him at odds with members of the barge industry who have expressed a willingness to pay more taxes if it translates to consistent maintenance and quicker replacement.
Funding has dried up on both fronts, and the lock continues to deteriorate as a chemical reaction weakens its bulky concrete frame. The structure allows barges to move through TVA’s dam system toward 318 miles of upstream Tennessee River water.
When Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett attempted to clean up some old campaign finance reports in late June, he inadvertently recorded a $1,350 expense for fuel — twice. So reports The News Sentinel.
He first noted the purchase — a credit card payment made to Pilot Travel Centers in March 2010 — on a state Senate disclosure report. He did it again June 22 — on his mayoral campaign report — after the News Sentinel questioned why the Pilot expense wasn’t initially on the mayoral report.
When asked Tuesday about the double claim, the mayor said he was in the middle of transitioning his election accounts and inadvertently recorded it on the wrong campaign report.
He said in a statement he is now reviewing “every expenditure of my campaign account” and making corrections where and when needed.
“I have and will continue to amend my campaign financial disclosures as required, and a full reconciliation of the accounts will be completed,” he said, providing little other detail.
The check to Pilot was one of two written by the mayor’s wife during the 2010 election that the mayor amended last month on campaign finance statements. The other was a $550 reimbursement payment to Dean Rice, his current chief of staff and former campaign manager.
Allison Burchett also wrote six checks that totaled more than $15,000 directly to herself. Those have not been recorded. Burchett says his wife has the receipts. She says he has them.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee Valley Authority ratepayers in October will get a break from lower fuel costs, with average residential bills expected to drop by as much as $3.50.
Despite a 2 percent increase in the utility’s base rate starting next month, a TVA statement Monday said a projected reduction in demand for power and coal-fired generation will actually reduce customer bills.
Compared with September, the combined effects of the higher base rate and the decrease in total monthly fuel costs will mean an average decrease of $1.50 to $3.50, depending on usage.
The statement said average wholesale rates in October will be lower than they have been since June.
TVA supplies power to about 9 million people in Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia
Tennessee’s Bill Haslam is among a group of fifteen governors from around the country asking the EPA and federal transportation officials not to push fuel economy too hard, according to WPLN.
Last week White House officials floated the idea of requiring all new vehicles to get better than 55 miles per gallon by 2025. The group of governors is made up of 14 Republicans and one Democrat, many from states home to major carmakers.
They argue against quote “overreaching regulations,” saying such high standards could drive up car prices, hurting sales and consumers. Tennessee’s auto sector is huge, with thousands of workers for carmakers like Volkswagen and Nissan, as well as thousands more jobs in the parts-supply industry.
ERWIN, Tenn. (AP) — A federal court lawsuit against the East Tennessee processor of nuclear fuel for the U.S. Navy alleges negligent operation of the plant, leading to death, injury and environmental damage.
The lawsuit against Nuclear Fuel Services in Erwin was filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Greeneville on behalf of 19 plaintiffs.
The plaintiffs are seeking class-action status. They request unspecified damage awards for any person who suffered personal injury or property damage because of plant operation between 1957 and the present.
Babcock and Wilcox currently owns the plant and is named as a defendant, as are previous owners.
The company told the Johnson City Press that it had not yet seen the lawsuit but hasn’t harmed anyone in the community and will vigorously defend itself.
The 40-page suit claims the plant released radioactive, hazardous and toxic substances into the surrounding environment in rural northeast Tennessee.
“These releases have contaminated the air, soil, surface water and ground water in the surrounding communities,” the suit alleges.
The complaint further says the plant caused the premature deaths of two of the plaintiffs. A jury trial is requested.
The plant also processes high-enriched uranium into low-enriched forms for use commercially.