Dawn Coppock is one of my heroes.
Dawn has twice been listed among the top 101 lawyers in Tennessee by Tennessee Business magazine. In 2004, she was named an Angel in Adoption by the U. S. Congressional Coalition on Adoption. She writes gorgeous poetry and fries a mean chicken liver, as well.
And now she’s saving mountains.
The bipartisan, non-sectarian organization Dawn co-founded in service of those mountains and people who live on them is called, LEAF. LEAF has continued to make great strides in changing the hearts, minds, and votes of our state legislators, and I would like to share Dawn’s beautiful work with you.
Dear Caretakers of Creation:
We have lots of news this week.
Good stuff first — LEAF is proud to officially announce a star-studded concert, Music Saves Mountains, sponsored by the Natural Resources Defense Council at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville on May 19th, to raise awareness about mountain top removal coal mining. Dave Matthews and Emmylou Harris are the featured performers, with special guests, Kathy Mattea, (LEAF’s much loved celebrity spokesperson) Patty Griffin, Patty Loveless, Buddy Miller and more. Tickets go on sale March 5th @10 am. Prices from $ 45-300. For details:
LEAF only gets 10 tickets or I’d send one to each of you. Buy yours early so no one gets left out. If you can buy extra to share with VIPS or friends of LEAF, please do. LEAF runs on a shoe string and has no budget for that. It is long past time for us all to get together and just have fun. Pat Hudson, Pat Chastain, and I will be there with our families. Please join us.
Now to the most critical issue — at this concert in May, will we be celebrating the first legislative ban on MTR in the country or will we be commiserating? I don’t know, but I do know the next several weeks and the position of Lt. Gov. Ramsey are decisive. Honestly, Ron Ramsey has been the roadblock from the very first year. I didn’t say that publicly until now in order to give him space to reconsider and join us. Lots of LEAFlets and our sponsors have met with him. He understands the issue and our openness to talk compromise. He remains willing to spend his substantial political capital to stop us.
I am often asked, “Who on earth could be FOR blowing up our highest ridgelines for coal?” In the TN legislature, it is Ron Ramsey in the Senate. The next question I’m asked is, “Why?” I’ll have to leave you to your own speculation on that. The reasons they state change like a kaleidoscope. Last week, Ron Ramsey insisted, in the face of photos of decapitated Zeb Mountain, that we don’t do mountain top removal in TN. (SB 1406 doesn’t use the words mountain top removal anyway and only talks about a ban on altering or disturbing ridgelines. It’s all a matter of semantics. What Ron Ramsey seems to be referring to is TDEC’s requirement that the rubble of the mountain be piled back on top. Certainly that is better than dumping it in a steam which is currently allowed in Kentucky and West Virginia. But this should not be a race to see which state reaches the bottom first.
We at LEAF believe that when a man destroys a mountain he exceeds his authority, and when he tries to recreate a mountain he exceeds his ability. Only God can create a mountain.
So what’s the plan? To make sure that if Tennessee loses its mountains we at least get the fingerprints of those responsible. Maybe shining a bit of light will shame folks into doing the right thing. Stay on Ron Ramsey. If we can’t move him we are going to lose. Call [615-741-4524] write [Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey 1 Legislative Plaza Nashville, TN 37243-0219] and email [Lt.email@example.com] at least weekly. Ask Ramsey to cosponsor SB 1406. Ask your friends and pastor to do the same. Modify your letter to serve as a letter to the editor of your local paper. Talk with your friends. Ask them to help. Sample letters from some of you are on our website www.tnleaf.org.
Ron Ramsey is running for Governor. That makes all Tennesseans his constituents. He may become willing to discuss compromise if the political costs get to high. We are counting on you to help him see the number of Tennesseans who care about creation. Christianity has a long history of speaking truth to power, beginning with our Lord. Now is our time to be heard.
So how much time do we have? Not much. SB1406 must pass the Senate Environment Committee before the committee closes and then we’ll need time to get it through the House’s two-tiered committee structure. We don’t know for sure when the committees will close but it is likely to be in April, maybe even early April. We have about a month.
Here is what we are doing. We have posted a You Tube video of Ron Ramsey’s response to a question about mountain top mining before the Brentwood Chamber of Commerce Feb 18th. We have added LEAF’s commentary. It is pretty pointed. Please view it and pass it on to others who may be interested. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-WNSIsZl1U
As you may recall, twelve very prominent scientists wrote a blockbuster paper in the journal Science in January establishing scientific consensus that MTR is a risk to human health and that the ecological damage caused is permanent and irreversible. (LEAF’s paraphrase — “Only God can make a mountain..”)
Two of those scientists are scheduled to testify in Nashville before the House and Senate Environment Committees on March 9th.If you are inclined to watch on the internet or to visit Legislative Plaza to observe our legislators in action, March 9th would be a good day to do that.
We are in Legislative Plaza every week talking with policy makers and looking for an opening. We are always pleased for you to join us. We also talk with the press to build awareness of the urgent nature of the situation. Look for new stories weekly. We will keep you updated by Action Alert, Face book and Twitter. Of course we continue our work with churches and educational institutions spreading the message of Creation Care. And we, like you, keep this effort and the mountains in our prayers every day.
Thank you for your support.
Dawn Coppock, Legislative Director, LEAF