Let me start this letter by stating that I am addressing a much larger problem than any individuals mentioned in the following sentences. They are only clear, local examples of the selfish, short-term greed that leads to the poisoning and destruction of the world in which we live with little consideration for those who are left to live with it.
In a recent letter published by Metro Pulse ["Destructive Bills," July 23, 2009], I noted several house bills (HB's 1615, 1616, 1204 et al.) sponsored or co-sponsored by Rep. Joe McCord (R-Maryville) that would benefit those industries in which he has an investment by removing liability and oversight.
Another letter recently published in an area paper pointed out that the Tennessee Scenic Vistas Protection Act is being stalled in a committee which Mr. McCord chairs. This Act would prevent mountaintop removal as a form of coal mining in Tennessee. Mining, another area of industry which Mr. McCord has an interest.
A new bill is now being sponsored by McCord.
House Bill 2154—the senate version, SB 2154 is being sponsored by Lowe Finney (D-Jackson)—would make it so those actions conducted under a state permit which affect you, your property, or your livelihood in a negative manner are no longer "nuisances" as defined by law.
Simply stated again, this bill would exempt individuals and businesses from any liability for damages done to you, your livelihood, or your property as long as they were working under a state permit.
For example: Say my company has a contract to improve a state highway and in doing so I poison a creek with toxins from the asphalt which feeds into your property and watershed. You "can't touch us!" because I have a state permit for the work. Consider the source of these permits.
Permit or no permit, no one has a right to create problems to other people's properties.
This bill is an especially dangerous threat to our rights as individuals and private landowners.
No one has the right or the authority to poison, damage, or destroy the property for which I've worked and sacrificed for nor to pollute the waters which nourish those lands.
House Bill 2154 is another attempt to lessen the oversight and consequences of irresponsibility for some and to promote selfish short-term gains without consideration for those who end up living with the negative results.
Though this selfishness is global, I as an individual must start helping correct the problem locally. This letter is one small step at letting my city, county, and state officials know they can be held accountable.