Valero Memphis Refinery billowing smoke. Valero was one of two companies proposing the Byhalia Pipeline, a 40-mile oil conduit that would have gone through historic Black neighborhoods in Memphis. (Photo by Karen Pulfer Focht)

Memphis City Council debates resolutions to protect aquifer

BY: - August 18, 2021

Stopping the development of the Byhalia pipeline in Memphis was a first step towards protection of the Memphis Sand Aquifer but environmental activists say the real battle now lies in politics, where the government still needs to create permanent protections for Shelby County residents.  On Tuesday, the Memphis City Council once again delayed a final […]

Valero Memphis Refinery billowing smoke. Valero was one of two companies proposing the Byhalia Pipeline, a 40-mile oil conduit that would have gone through historic Black neighborhoods in Memphis. (Photo by Karen Pulfer Focht)

Memphis City Council takes step to protect Memphis Sand Aquifer

BY: - August 4, 2021

The Memphis City Council made steps to pass an ordinance protecting the Memphis Sand Aquifer after environmental activists spent nearly a year fighting to protect it against a crude-oil pipeline. On Tuesday, the Memphis council passed on second reading an ordinance established the city government’s role in  overseeing future developments in Memphis and how they […]

A stretch of the Duck River in Marshall County where a water treatment plant is proposed. Courtesy: Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation

With growth comes the need for new drinking water sources in Marshall County

BY: - July 19, 2021

Marshall County, located outside what was once considered the boundary edge of growing suburbs circling Nashville, has seen explosive growth of its own in recent years — call it the Williamson County overflow effect, says County Mayor Mike Keny. Drawn by more affordable housing, jobs and the rural character of the county — about an hour […]

A controversial quarry near farmland in Wilson County was ordered to stop work after beginning blasting without a permit. (Photo: Wilson County)

Wilson County residents push back against state efforts to approve limestone quarry

BY: - July 14, 2021

Marsha Midgett and her husband have been raising livestock on family land owned for generations in east Wilson County, but she now worries that the state’s steps toward approving a permit for rock mining quarry may put the future of their farm in jeopardy. The Midgetts rely on wells for drinking water. Ponds on their […]

Long-time racer Ronnie Campbell takes his car for a drive on the Fairgrounds Speedway. Photo: John Partipilo)

Survey from Nashville community group details concerns about Fairgrounds track

BY: - July 14, 2021

A community engagement group figured people living near the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway had something to say about NASCAR racing returning to the track, and they were correct.  On Tuesday, Stand Up Nashville (SUN) representatives presented results from a recent survey to the Board of Fair Commissioners meeting, detailing local resident’s concerns.  In March, Metro Nashville […]

Southern Services Landfill in Nashville's Bordeaux community. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Controversial plan to expand Middle Point Landfill rejected

BY: - July 9, 2021

A regional board, meeting in Murfreesboro on Friday evening, rejected plans to expand a household waste landfill in Rutherford County — a decision with far-reaching consequences for surrounding counties that rely on the Middle Point facility to take in residents’ trash.  The landfill is the only facility in Middle Tennessee that takes in household garbage. […]

Memphis residents pushed back against the Byhalia Pipeline project. (Photo by Karen Pulfer Focht)

Lookout in Brief: Byhalia Pipeline halted but Memphis Council still pushes protective legislation

BY: - July 7, 2021

The Byhalia Connection pipeline project has been abandoned by its developers but Memphis council members continue to push legislation to protect the Memphis Sand Aquifer. On Tuesday, an ordinance for protecting Shelby County’s natural water source was up for a final reading, but was withdrawn. In its place, councilmember JB Smiley introduced a substitute aquifer […]

An apartment building under construction in Williamson County. (Photo: staff)

State regulators plan to loosen runoff rules at construction sites

BY: - June 30, 2021

A state plan to rollback longstanding regulations for construction site runoff is drawing opposition from environmental groups who fear that Tennessee creeks ands streams will suffer. Stormwater discharges from construction sites —rainwater that sweeps soil or other particles off-site — can flow into nearby waterways, often creating silt deposits that impact aquatic life and water […]

A Nashville landfill, not operated by BFI. (Photo: John Partipilo)

‘Y’all are crappy neighbors’: Rutherford County residents slam landfill expansion plan at public hearing

BY: - June 29, 2021

Rutherford county residents on Monday evening blasted a plan to expand a regional landfill located in fast-growing Murfreesboro suburbs that serves as the final destination for trash from 27 surrounding counties. Republic Services, operators of the Middle Point Landfill, have proposed expanding the controversial landfill by nearly 100 acres, lengthening its estimated 7 years of […]

Gas stations with convenience stores are often the only source of grocery shopping for residents in low income neighborhoods. (Photo: John Partipilo)

State lawmakers cut big oil a big break

BY: - June 9, 2021

Two weeks after the formal close of the Tennessee legislative season, a committee of lawmakers agreed to give the state’s petroleum companies a big break. The Joint Government Operations Committee approved new rules that shift the financial burden of cleaning up toxic spills at gas stations and truck stops from business owners to taxpayers for […]

Murfreesboro Mayor Shane McFarland, photographed in 2021, sits with his face in his hands -- a posture he may need to adopt again in light of a lawsuit against the city. (Photo: John Partipilo)

While battles loom over landfills, Middle Tennessee hurtles toward a trash crisis 

BY: and - May 24, 2021

From a lawsuit over the rejected expansion of a landfill in Nashville to the protracted political battle over closing the landfill in Murfreesboro, the urgency of Middle Tennessee’s trash crisis has increased in intensity in recent months. The situation has all the ingredients for a political logjam. Neighborhoods across the region have made blocking new […]

Report: $126M price tag for cleaning up Tennessee’s abandoned coal fields

BY: - May 19, 2021

Tennessee has more than 14,000 acres of abandoned coal fields, but the cost of remediation —such as replanting trees and improving water quality — far outweigh the federal funding available to the state, a new report shows.  The report by the Ohio River Valley Institute, a think tank dedicated to examining Appalachia, concluded that the […]