I am a lifelong resident of Tennessee and have long appreciated this state's natural gifts. This year our state legislators have an opportunity to preserve farmlands and the historic communities around them, protect hunting and fishing habitats, and promote the tourist industry in our state which accounts for around $13 billion in visitor spending each year. All this and more while ensuring safe drinking water for us. Our legislators have an opportunity to develop new jobs that will last as our nation's economy goes through the transitions it must to remain internationally competitive. Those we elected have the ability to begin these things by supporting a bipartisan proposal known as the Tennessee Scenic Vistas Protection Act, which would ban mountaintop removal coal mining on ridgelines over 2,000 feet.
Ending this most destructive form of mining through this legislation is supported by religious congregations that are following their churches' teachings, as well as business leaders, conservationists, and state officials from both parties. Tennesseans have the opportunity to become the first state in the nation to ban this form of mining and end the pillaging of our mountain heritage by out-of-state companies and foreign investors. Of course there is some resistance to this proposal, which is driven by the very few who benefit from destroying our Tennessee homeland. We see through the false claims of the jobs losses this act will bring, so we must make it clear to those who are elected to protect our state, to do so by supporting the Tennessee Scenic Vistas Protection Act.