Vaughan pipeline bill is delayed in committee
Rep. Kevin Vaughan, R-Collierville. (Photo: John Partipilo)
An energy infrastructure preemption bill was delayed by the House Commerce Committee until next week, citing time constraints to debate a bill that has attracted statewide controversy.
Dozens of environmental justice activists traveled from across the state to protest and speak against HB2246 in person, calling it a move against the local liberties of Tennessee communities.
“We’re pretty concerned that state politicians, plus a few lobbyists, are having this bill go through that would essentially prevent communities from having a say in what’s built in their communities,” said Brady Watson, spokesperson for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.
Also attending were Justin J. Pearson, co-founder of the Memphis Community Against Pollution, Sarah Houston, director of Protect Our Aquifer, and Scott Banbury, spokesperson for the Tennessee Chapter of the Sierra Club.
HB2046 and its companion bill SB207, was originally written as a study of energy infrastructure but was amended to prevent local governments from regulating fossil fuel infrastructure.
Rep. Kevin Vaughan, R-Collierville, chairman of the House Commerce Committee, said he sponsored the bill to ensure energy infrastructure remained uninterrupted across the state to prevent disruption of fuel supplies and diminished local economies.
Vaughan met with environmental advocates last week to discuss how preemption could affect drinking water across Tennessee.
In Shelby County, government officials passed several ordinances and resolutions to regulate fossil fuel infrastructure in an effort to protect the Memphis Sand Aquifer, from which the county pumped its drinking water.
Since then, county cross the state have opposed the bill, including Anderson.
In Knoxville, Watson is concerned about the Tennessee Valley Authority’s decision to retire the nearby Kingston Fossil Plant to replace it with another energy infrastructure. Watson hopes the local community will be allowed to have a say in TVA’s decisions, whether they choose to use gas or renewable energy, but HB2246’s passage could prevent any public comment.
‘We’re hoping Rep. Vaughan will listen to the idea that we want to have local liberty, local control, because local people are the most impacted by this,” he said.
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