Thursday, July 28, 2011

Finally! A vote I can agree with!

H.AMDT.735 (A012) Amends: H.R.2584
Sponsor: Rep Dicks, Norman D. [WA-6] (offered 7/26/2011)

AMENDMENT PURPOSE: An amendment to strike the proviso relating to funding limitations in the Endangered Species Act.

7/26/2011 8:15pm: Amendment (A012) offered by Mr. Dicks. (consideration: CR H5550-5552, H5553-5561; text: CR H5550)

7/27/2011 1:44pm: On agreeing to the Dicks amendment (A012) Agreed to by recorded vote: 224 - 202 (Roll no. 652). (consideration: CR H5601)

Votes from Tennessee's delegation...

Black - No
Blackburn - Aye
Cohen - Aye
Cooper - Aye
DesJarlais - No
Duncan - No
Fincher - No
Fleischmann - No
Roe - No

Could it be that Congressman Blackburn is OK with protecting endangered species??!!! There might be a soul in there, folks!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Crazy Rep. is still crazy

Still creating conspiracy theories... dumb lady keeps forgetting that Pres. Bush signed the so-called "ban" into law...

Save The Light Bulb - What Next?
Marsha Blackburn

I wanted to personally thank you for signing my Petition "Save the Light Bulb." In the last week, we have lost one battle, but won another in this fight to maintain a basic consumer choice. Although a majority of the House voted to repeal the light bulb ban, we did not get the 2/3 majority needed to pass the bill and later override a certain Obama veto. But your voices were heard through phone calls, e-mails and social media. And, later in the week, we passed an amendment into the Energy & Water Appropriations bill that would prohibit the Department of Energy from using any taxpayer funds to enforce the light bulb ban. The liberals knew we had won that round and did not even call for a recorded vote.

I know that you understand that the issue is far more important than merely saving a specific consumer product. It's about fighting for individual freedom - the freedom to make our own choices in America - whether it is about purchasing consumer goods or our right to bear arms. My point has always been when we permit liberals to chip away at the foundation of our individual freedoms; eventually that very foundation will crumble. I intend to fight every attempt by liberals to limit our individual freedom.

Let’s not stop! Let’s keep this grassroots effort growing!

Thanks for your help.

Marsha Blackburn

To clarify, I signed no petition...this is her campaign literature. Nothing like energy efficiency to really bring out the crazy in a right-wing broad.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


From today's Tennessean...

Coal ash: headed for your landfill?
House undercuts EPA effort to reach answer on waste

After the 2008 Kingston, Tenn., coal ash disaster, there was hope that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency would finally address the dangers associated with toxic coal ash waste.

That hope began to fade when EPA published an ambivalent draft rule more than a year ago. Although EPA has engaged in a rigorous process of evaluating the law, science and economics of coal ash regulations while reviewing the substantial public input in response to last spring’s proposal, actual progress toward a final rule of any kind is slow, and some in Congress want progress to stop entirely.

Coal ash, the waste left behind after coal is burned, is laden with heavy metals such as mercury, arsenic, chromium and selenium. For generations, coal ash has been dumped in unlined ponds and landfills where toxic substances enter ground and surface water. In spring 2010, EPA proposed two regulatory options to address this problem: One would treat coal ash as hazardous waste, the other would merely issue voluntary guidelines that utilities could choose to ignore without threat of federal enforcement.

EPA’s final rule is still pending, as they consider thousands of scientific documents and hundreds of thousands of public comments, including many from Tennesseans expressing personal understanding of the need to comprehensively regulate coal ash.

Now, instead of letting EPA finish the process, Congress is engaging in politically motivated attempts to undermine the agency’s work. Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Energy and Commerce Committee passed a bill to prohibit EPA from adequately dealing with coal ash. Committee member Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., is supporting the charge against coal ash regulation, which comes as no surprise given her staunch anti-environmental views, but, given the dozens of risky coal ash sites in this state, is directly opposed to the interests of Tennesseans.

Congress’ unnecessary intrusion not only pre-empts the rulemaking process before completion, it also undermines critical scientific inquiry and transparency inherent in the EPA process. The votes of Rep. Blackburn and others on the committee are an affront to residents of Tennessee who experienced firsthand the disastrous 2008 Tennessee Valley Authority Kingston coal ash spill and still face damage and threats from other coal ash sites across the state.

Citizen groups form

Make no mistake: People in Tennessee have been vocal about their concerns. A group in East Tennessee held a public meeting last fall unanimously calling for strong hazardous-waste regulations; hundreds more attended an EPA-sponsored hearing in Knoxville. In Middle Tennessee, a group has formed in Humphreys County, in part to investigate the impacts of coal ash from TVA’s New Johnsonville plant. A state bill was recently offered in Nashville to improve control of the dozens of risky coal ash sites in the state, but was stymied by interference from the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce.

Some institutions, including the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce, utilities that produce coal ash and anti-environmental crusaders like Rep. Blackburn flatly oppose rules to tightly regulate the waste. Yet, whether or not you support strict coal ash protections, and whether or not you live near one of Tennessee’s many ash ponds, you should reject the idea of congressional action to undermine the rulemaking processes.

It is simply unacceptable for Congress to ignore science and the voices of people from Kingston, New Johnsonville and other communities burdened by coal ash.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Until we see this on Murray Lane...

...Marsha Blackburn won't give a damn.

From today's Tennessean...

Coal ash could be treated as city trash

WASHINGTON — A House committee approved legislation Wednesday that would bar federal regulation of coal ash as hazardous waste.

The bill, passed 35-12 by the Energy and Commerce Committee, now moves to the House floor, where a Republican majority probably will pass it.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Brentwood, the only Tennessee lawmaker on the committee, voted for the measure.

Six Democrats joined the committee’s Republicans in voting for the bill.

The Environmental Protection Agency began urging regulation after more than 5 million cubic yards of coal ash sludge spilled from TVA’s Kingston power plant onto the banks of the Emory River in December 2008. The ongoing cleanup effort could cost ratepayers more than $1 billion.

TVA's Kingston disaster

While barring the EPA from regulating coal ash, the legislation would allow states to treat the ash as municipal waste, placing it in the same category as household garbage and cleaning chemicals, wastewater and construction debris.

Landfills and ponds holding coal ash generally would be subject to the same rules for design, lining and groundwater testing as landfills containing municipal garbage.

The bill would allow the EPA to step in if it finds a state isn’t properly disposing of coal ash under that state’s municipal waste program.

Democrats on the Energy and Commerce Committee pointed to the Kingston spill as evidence that states’ disposal methods aren’t safe enough, especially in holding ponds where wet ash is stored. Five of TVA’s plants dispose of coal ash in wet impoundments. Six use dry storage.

“I don’t believe anyone really thinks we should be treating wet impoundments of coal ash the same way we treat our municipal garbage,” said Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Pa. “The Tennessee thing was a wet impoundment, and that’s a real problem.”

Rep. Henry Waxman, the committee’s top Democrat, said the bill wouldn’t protect public health.

“It won’t make high-risk impoundments of coal ash safe,” he said. “It won’t stop contamination of drinking water. It will establish a weak federal program designed to maintain the status quo.”

But Rep. John Shimkus, the Illinois Republican who is chairman of the committee’s environment panel, said the bill would “prevent issues like the one that caused the problems at TVA in Tennessee.”

“State officials affirmed their expertise and desire to regulate this area without federal control,” Shimkus said. “Given the unique challenges of each individual state, I believe this is the best approach.”

If the bill is approved by the entire House, it will move to the Senate.

Health, job factors

Environmentalists argue that chemicals in coal ash cause cancer and other ailments.

Industry representatives and many Republicans say studies of health risks have been inconclusive, and regulating coal ash as toxic waste would raise utility prices and threaten jobs by stigmatizing products made with the substance.

Almost half of the country’s 131 million tons of coal ash are recycled in wall board, concrete, carpeting, kitchen counters and other household products, according to the American Coal Ash Association.

In June last year, the EPA proposed two options for regulating the waste. One would deem it hazardous and require federal oversight. The other, less stringent option would put states in charge.

The Energy and Commerce Committee also voted Tuesday to require an analysis of the overall impact of EPA regulations on jobs, energy prices and the economy. Blackburn also voted for that bill.

House Republicans also are targeting coal ash regulation in a draft spending bill for fiscal 2012, stipulating that the EPA may not use any money in the bill to regulate coal ash as hazardous waste.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Repealing Progress Fail

From the Memphis Commercial Appeal...

Effort by Rep. Marsha Blackburn to preserve incandescent light bulbs falls short

WASHINGTON – Chris Dempsey, manager of the family-owned Stewart Hardware stores in Midtown and Bartlett, stocks both efficient compact fluorescent and inefficient incandescent light bulbs.

Although sales of the CFLs are increasing, “the majority of customers prefer the incandescent bulbs,” he said. “I don’t think anybody thinks it’s the end-of-the-world type of thing but, given the choice, they prefer the incandescent bulb.”

In Congress, to hear the debate over light bulb efficiency standards this week, you might think it is an end-of-the-world type of thing. U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., has been leading the effort to repeal higher standards signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2007.

The Obama Administration weighed in earlier this week saying the bill she sponsored, the Better Use of Light Bubs (BULB) Act, is “unnecessary” and would have “negative economic consequences.”

“It’s time for us to say it was bad policy. It was a bad idea and we need to get it off the books,” Blackburn said in a floor debate Monday evening. She said the stiffer standards are “a de facto ban on the incandescent light bulb.”

The House voted 233-193 this evening to repeal the higher standards but, under the suspension rules, it needed two-thirds to pass. The failure was a blow to the coal industry, electricity generators and opponents of greater regulation. It’s estimated the higher standards, due to take effect next year, would save the output of 30 large electrical power plants and the tons of air pollution they produce.

U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher, R-Tenn., was one of 35 co-sponsors and voted for the measure, as did U.S. Rep. Alan Nunnelee, R-Miss. U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., voted against it.

Supporters of the 2007 standards note that the higher-efficiency bulbs mandated by the Energy Independence and Security Act not only would save energy but, despite higher up-front costs, also save consumers money over time because of their longer useful life.

Those who want to repeal the efficiency standards, like Blackburn, say consumers tell them they don’t like the new compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) and particularly don’t like their higher costs. More efficient incandescent bulbs are also available but are also more expensive than their inefficient counterparts.

“Why take the low end of the market off the market?” U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, asked during Monday’s debate. “If you’re Al Gore and you want to pay $10 for a light bulb, more power to you.”

Blackburn and others also note that most CFLs – Blackburn in her House floor speech Monday said “all” – are made in China, and that the last major General Electric plant making ordinary incandescent bulbs, in Winchester, Va., closed last September, taking 200 jobs.

Those bulbs, which the Natural Resources Defense Council, a Washington-based think tank, says waste 90 percent of the electricity they consume as heat, cannot meet the energy standards that go into effect in 2012.

But the NRDC notes that the 2007 increased efficiency standards have been embraced by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, the trade association for domestic light manufacturers, as well as the leading manufacturers themselves.

The NRDC points out that the standards have “jumpstarted domestic industry investment in research and development and production of more efficient lighting products.” It points to a factory in St. Marys, Pa., retooling to make more efficient incandescent bulbs, a new factory for CFLs opening in Ohio this year and “thousands of jobs” being created by companies such as Cree, Lighting Science Group and Phillips Lighting.

The NRDC also released a statement quoting Barry Edison Stone, the great-grandson of the inventor of the incandescent bulb, suggesting proponents of the repeal of the higher standards are “narrow-minded.”

Proponents of the higher efficiency standards say they will spur innovation while reducing electricity usage and the carbon dioxide and other pollutants associated with coal-burning power plants.

But Blackburn, in her speech, said the bulbs “don’t save any energy,” adding, “we also know they’re also dangerous because they’re filled with mercury.”

The NRDC acknowledges the CFLs require between two and five milligrams of mercury, but notes that a single older thermometer contained nearly 500 milligrams of mercury – equivalent to the amount in more than 100 CFL bulbs.

U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., who is opposed to repealing the higher standards, noted that not only manufacturers but the Consumers Union, which produces Consumer Reports, as well as Johnson Controls, United Technologies and the Environmental Defense Fund all support retaining them.

Consumers Union also paid for a newspaper ad now circulating saying incandescent bulbs aren’t being banned, just “getting better,” noting than the new bulbs, that look just like the old ones, are between 28 and 33 percent more efficient. Spokesman Michele Schaefer noted that lighting is 10 percent to 15 percent of household electrical use and more efficient upgrades will ultimately save consumer billions of dollars in reduced utility bills.

As with many partisan debates, the light bulb debate is largely ideological, pitting the higher efficiency mandate against the free market and consumer choice. As Waxman put it, the higher standards are already “working as we intended,” moving industry to innovate.

But Barton insisted consumers should have the option to choose the cheaper, less efficient alternative.

“Let the people make their own choices,” he said. “Why in the world does the federal government have to tell people what kinds of lights to use in their home?”

Monday, July 11, 2011

An interesting interview with Gov. Haslam

From the City Paper...

Bill Haslam: 'Gay rights is a broad topic'

Here's a snippet...

Q: Why do you take these positions? Do you think the gay lifestyle is a choice?
A: Oh, I’m not going to go into all that discussion.