By Travis Loller, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service takes seriously the concerns of environmentalists that two East Tennessee mines are a threat to endangered fish, a spokesman says.
The Sierra Club and several other groups claim in a lawsuit filed on Thursday that Fish and Wildlife did not use the most up-to-date science when it agreed to allow surface mining at Zeb Mountain and Davis Creek. They say two endangered fish are threatened by the mining work because the runoff water from the sites is high in dissolved salts, making nearby streams too salty for the blackside dace and Cumberland darter to survive.
“We take very seriously our duty to protect endangered species, and we will look at all aspects of this lawsuit to ensure the best protection for the species involved,” Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman Tom MacKenzie said in a phone interview from his Atlanta office. He said the service’s legal advisers will prepare an appropriate response to the suit.
A coalition of environmental groups have filed a lawsuit claiming federal agencies, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, unlawfully approved surface mining on Tennessee mountains, according to The Tennessean. The Defenders of Wildlife, the Sierra Club and others sued the agencies in U.S. District Court in Nashville for not considering how pollution from the mining would impact endangered fish — in particular, the blackside dace and Cumberland darter.
“Extinction of endangered species is too high a price to pay for surface mining,” said the Sierra Club’s Mary Anne Hitt. “Mining pollution from these sites clearly poses a risk to the dace and darter; these permits should have never been allowed to go forward.”
The fish use the creeks downstream of Zeb Mountain and David Creek, both outside of Knoxville (Note: They’re in in Campbell County.). The fish have been dwindling in numbers for years.
Extinction of the fish, the lawsuit says, could harm the area’s entire ecosystem. Citing violations of the Endangered Species Act, the groups contend federal officials have leaned on outdated safety research when approving mining permits.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Environmentalists have sued coal mining interests in federal court in Knoxville seeking to enforce pollution limits.
The Sierra Club, the Tennessee Clean Water Network and Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment (SOCM) claim National Coal LLC is violating legal limits on its selenium, iron and manganese discharges into local waterways.
Environmentalists said in a news release that three suits were filed this week citing provisions of the Clean Water Act.
The Sierra Club said the suits are the latest in a series of actions brought by environmentalists in an effort to protect Appalachian streams.
A telephone call to National Coal by The Associated Press was unanswered Tuesday. Another number listed for the company was disconnected.
Note: A news release is below.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Legislature’s approval of a bill governing the sale of strong beer has placed an East Tennessee site at the top of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.’s list for a new brewery.
Bill Manley, spokesman for the Chico, Calif.-based beer maker, said Monday that the company is doing its due diligence on the Alcoa facility, and plans to make a decision on the more than $70 million plant within weeks. Three other sites remain in the running.
Gov. Bill Haslam has said he will sign into law the bill to establish legal guidelines on beer with an alcohol content of 5 percent to 20 percent, including a provision to allow brewers to sell the product on site.
— On a related note…
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — In a story May 21 about legislation aimed at enticing Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. to select an East Tennessee site for a new brewery, The Associated Press, relying on statements made by the bill sponsor during legislative discussion, reported erroneously the size of the potential investment. According to company spokesman Bill Manley, it is $70 million to $75 million, not $200 million.
(The earlier story was posted on this blog.)
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Supporters of a bill to establish state guidelines for high-alcohol beer hope the measure will help encourage a California beer maker to choose an East Tennessee site for a new brewery.
The Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday voted 10-0 to advance the bill (SB1224)sponsored by Republican Sen. Ken Yager of Harriman to a full floor vote. The measure would govern the sale of beer with an alcohol content of 5 percent to 20 percent.
Bill Manley, a spokesman for Chico, Calif.-based Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., said Alcoa is on the short list of finalists for the new brewery.
He says the company brews several beers with both more and less than 5 percent alcohol, and that law changes are key to whether Alcoa will remain in contention.