People across the state are on the edge of their seats to see if the Senate will vote to protect the mountains of East Tennessee. The undue influence of coal companies on our government is an historical fact but our current legislature has an opportunity now to vote itself free from that black smudge on its record. Leaving vast areas of West Virginia looking like a moonscape coal companies are now poised to do the same to East Tennessee. The price of coal has risen and king coal is in a hurry to rip the last remnants of this toxic fossil fuel out of the earth to sell on the open market, mostly to China. Churches are organizing against what they see as a dire threat to God's creation as both religious and social justice advocates witness how mountain topping destroys communities by permanently degrading the environment and thus the local economies. Homes will be destroyed by the hundreds and property values will plummet. Airborne dust and debris from mining will cause illnesses and groundwater contamination as well as dramatically increase the threat of floods. Will your state Senator vote to save our mountain communities tomorrow by voting for the Scenic Vistas Protection Act (SB1406)? Or will they sell our mountains for a pittance and leave us a moonscape? No, Virginia, the mountains will not grow back.
Howard Switzer, Linden, Tenn.