Remarks of U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander on Clean Air Rule Vote

TSEA is grateful to our Senator Alexander for the keen and meaningful remarks of a fellow Tennessean about the well being of our valley. In the remarks he also mentions our other estimable Senator Corker, the former mayor of Chattanooga, actions to improve the air quality of his city. It would seem to me that both should be strong advocates of solar energy and its impact on our air and water quality.

Both are correct in saying that we got to get solar prices down before we can get wide acceptance. Both our senators know that the vast majority of our citizenry want solar. How to we make it all happen? We believe that the goal of improving our solar adoption is not price alone, but that public adoption of clean energy is paramount.

At the moment TVA customers are asked to donate money to purchase pure solar at $8 per unit. What if we use old fashioned American wisdom and modified the program from a donation to an investment? We do not expect a business to donate money so that some bank can reap the profit, so why should we expect the average citizen of the Tennessee valley under the current economic situation to give us its disposable income other than the belief that it is good for our nation? TSEA will be posting its submission to the Department of Energy for a Sunshot grant to show how we can create a program that will allow the average citizen to invest in solar and reap a return on that investment. More on this later.

Right now TSEA wants you to read the excellent comments of our senator regarding the clean air bill.

I would agree the EPA has become a happy hunting ground for goofy regulations. But as the late William F. Buckley once said, even a stopped clock is right twice a day. And on this rule — this clean air rule and the earlier interstate rule — I believe EPA is right.
The effect of upholding this rule will be to finally require that most coal plants in America will have to install two kinds of pollution control equipment: scrubbers and SCRs. This will basically finish the job of capturing sulfur and nitrogen oxides, fine particles, and the 187 toxic pollutants that were specifically identified by Congress in the 1990 Clean Air Act amendments.
The Tennessee Valley Authority has already committed to install this equipment by 2018. But TVA alone can’t clean up Tennessee’s air, because dirty air blows in from other States. So let me say what upholding this rule will do for the people of Tennessee.
First, it will hasten the day when Memphis, Chattanooga, and Knoxville are not three of the top five worst asthma cities — which they are today — and Nashville is not competing to be in the top 10.
Dr. William Lawson of Vanderbilt University, who treats patients with respiratory diseases in Nashville said in a recent article that: “Pollution from these power plants means my patients suffer more. Pollution increases their chances of being hospitalized. Some of these toxic emissions even cause cancer and can interfere with our children’s neurological development.”
Secondly, upholding this rule means that visitors will soon not even think of calling the Great Smoky Mountains the Great Smoggy Mountains because it is one of the most polluted national parks in America.
Third, this rule should mean fewer health advisory warnings for our streams that say “don’t eat the fish because of mercury contamination.” Half of the manmade mercury in the United States comes from coal plants, and as much as 70 percent of the mercury pollution in our local environment, such as streams and rivers, can come from nearby coal plants.
Fourth, we have seen that had Nissan been unable to get an air quality permit in Nashville in 1980, it would have gone to Georgia. And if Senator Corker had not, as mayor of Chattanooga, improved the air quality in that city in the mid 2000’s, the Volkswagen site there would be a vacant lot today.

From the heart, thank you Senator Alexander