As stated before, I’m not pleased with this anti-environmental bill Jason Mumpower is pushing.
I’ll admit – I might be overly sensitive about the issue because I live downstream from the Eastman. Or maybe it’s because I’m in an area where it is not uncommon to hear things like: “What the hell are you doin’ Roy. Holy Smokes! You can’t pour that in the creek!”
Whatever the reason, Mumpower’s move to prohibit the Department of Environment and Conservation from undertaking investigations or enforcement actions based solely on tips from anonymous sources AND require authorities to obtain the name and address of those asking for an investigation… Wait, sit back down. I’m not finished yet… AND prohibit local governments from issuing a formal complaint or taking any investigatory or enforcement action on the basis of information received from, or allegations made by, an anonymous source (whew) seems irresponsible and short-sighted to me.
Of course, to be fair, as Kleinheider so graciously noted, the following phrase is included in the bill: [T]his section shall not prevent the department from taking any action deemed necessary in the case of imminent danger to human health and safety.
Oh, thank goodness. That makes me feel so much better. Now, let me make sure I understand. An employee of Large Corporation files a complaint that the Large Corporation is dumping toxic sludge into the river, but does so anonymously. How is it they are supposed to determine if this is a frivolous complaint or a case posing imminent danger to human health or safety? Do they wait until (1) there are reports of mutation in aquatic wildlife (b) the local fishermen start glowing in the dark or (c) the River changes colors again?
Would an investigation be permissible then?
Look, I understand gripes arising from the Cranberry Clash are probably workin’ the lawmaker’s last nerve – but the statistics provided by the TDEC simply do not justify this legislation. I am also concerned by Mumpower’s comment: “… when the TDEC comes knocking at your door and says a complaint has been filed against you, you have no idea who the complainant is.”
Does this mean the TDEC would be required not only to obtain the name and address of person(s) filing a complaint – but to release the information to the alleged violator? Here? In East Tennessee? Where petty retribution is considered a sport the whole family can enjoy? Are you sure this a good plan?
You know, I’m disappointed because (a) after finally getting Republicans to admit there is an environment and it might be important – this seems like a step backwards. And (b) I didn’t expect this from Mumpower. He has always seemed rather level-headed, intelligent and capable.
Then… just when I thought nothing more rotten could slide down the Hill: I discover over at Cup of Joe Powell that Senator Tommy Kilby (D) has decided it’s a good idea to ban ownership of pit bulls. I won’t list all the reasons why breed specific legislation is just wrong: other people already have: (Read Joe, Aunt B, Newscoma, Say Uncle, and The Editor.)
At this point, my faith in our state government has been fundamentally shaken. Okay, not really. I didn’t have much faith to begin with and I wasn’t particularly surprised by Kilby’s bill. Banning stuff seems to be a hobby for him: video games, gay marriage, smoking, abortion rights… By the way, are ya’ll sure he’s a Democrat? Nevertheless, the general assembly hasn’t been in session for a whole month yet. Doesn’t it usually take longer for the tomfoolery to begin? How could two pieces of asinine legislation come up so quickly? What was it – a contest?
A contest? Yes! That’s it! It all makes sense now.
See, what had happened was… Jason Mumpower and Tommy Kilby probably arrived in Nashville a bit early. While waiting for the session to begin, they got together over lunch. They started arguing over who was better: Democrats or the Republicans. Then, they moved on to squabbling about who had gotten more publicity last session. Finally, they made a wager. The first lawmaker to introduce the most outrageous piece of legislation and get their name in the Tennessean + four other papers had to buy the other a beer. Then, if one bill resulted in a protest march – the pay off would be two beers. That’s the only logical explanation.
So, I have a solution. Whereas I hate Nashville and carrying protest signs for an extended period of time tends to make my arms hurt… if both of you will withdraw your bills immediately and go sit in a corner for the next four months or so, I’ll buy you a six pack apiece and we’ll call it tie.