Mar 1 2024
08:17 am

to make money.

Surely everyone remembers the Blue Oval City being built by Ford in West Tennessee, off of I-40, southwest of Brownsville.

The developers are going wild. They are sooooo excited. However, there is apparently a problem.


What are the odds this bill, or a variation of, will pass? In this day and age in the State of Tennessee, I'm not a gambler.

Great Reporting from the Tennessee Lookout.

Most of the wetland acreage regulated by the state is in West Tennessee, with a high concentration surrounding the new Ford factory in Haywood County.
Haywood county, where the plant is located, has more than 57,319 acres of wetlands that could lose protections under Vaughan’s bill
In Shelby County, where Vaughan is based, 35,482 wetland acres are at risk
The region also lies atop the Memphis Sand Aquifer, the primary water supply for urban and rural communities, and farmers in west Tennessee. Wetlands serve to recharge and filter water that supplies the aquifer.

Rep. Kevin Vaughan, a West Tennessee Republican and developer, wants to remove state oversight of construction on wetlands, impacting communities where he does business

The bill by Collierville Republican Rep. Kevin Vaughan would limit state oversight over more than 430,000 acres of Tennessee wetlands. That’s more than half of the state’s critical ecosystems, which serve as a bulwark against floods and droughts, replenish aquifers and are prized by hunters, anglers and nature lovers.

Environmental groups warn that the proposed bill, if enacted by the General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Bill Lee, could inflict irreparable harm on future generations.

“The proposed legislation favors the interests of developers over the safety of future flood victims and pocketbooks of Tennessee taxpayers,” said George Nolan, senior attorney and director of the Southern Environmental Law Center in Tennessee.

“Once a developer fills and paves over a wetland, it is gone forever. This is no time to repeal laws that have protected our wetlands for the last 50 years,” he said.


The legislation is scheduled to be heard Wednesday in the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, with an amendendment that makes distinctions between wetlands.

The amendment would allow developers to build on “low-quality” wetlands and up to 4 acres of “moderate” isolated wetlands without seeking state permission.

Environmental groups say the proposal continues to place large swathes of Tennessee wetlands at risk.

“Vaughan’s current amendment is not a compromise as it requires no mitigation for low-quality wetlands regardless of size and no mitigation for large swaths of moderate-quality wetlands,” Grace Stranch, chief executive officer of the Harpeth Conservancy said. “The development resulting from those huge carveouts will likely cause increased flooding, a decline in water quality, higher water bills, and aquifer recharge problems.”

The measure has also drawn pushback from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.

“We at TDEC fear the proposal could result in greater back-end costs,” Gregory Young, the agency’s deputy commissioner, told lawmakers earlier this month.

Alex Pellom, chief of staff for the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, cautioned the bill could lead to more flooding; the state has already suffered its wettest years in history since 2019, leading to devastating floods, billions of dollars in property damage and loss of life.

yellowdog's picture

We don't need

no stinkin' rules here in Tennessee!

bizgrrl's picture

A controversial bill to roll

A controversial bill to roll back protections on more than 430,000 acres wetlands in Tennessee has been effectively defeated, with a senate committee voting Wednesday to send the measure to a legislative study session over the summer.

yellowdog's picture

Maybe there is some limit

to what the Repubs will do to mess up the state.

fischbobber's picture

Federal shutdown

State and local republicans are really pushing to be cut off from federal funding. They have passed on billions we need for healthcare and education, but even they apparently aren't stupid enough to bring in the Fed for the sole purpose of killing the Ford plant. Look at their anti-green policies. They don't want these factories and jobs to begin with.

bizgrrl's picture

Oops. Some still want to mess

Oops. Some still want to mess up the state. It's all about the benjamins.

A controversial bill to claw back state regulations over thousands of acres of Tennessee wetlands advanced with no debate in a House committee Wednesday, keeping the proposal alive even after it was shelved in the state senate.

The bill would give developers and landowners a break from needing state permission to build on or fill in wetlands that have no obvious surface connection to a river, lake or stream. Current law gives the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, or TDEC, the power to approve or deny plans to disturb a wetland — and to require that developers pay often-costly mitigation fees if a project is allowed to go forward.

The bill’s sponsors, west Tennessee Republicans Rep. Kevin Vaughan and Sen. Sen. Brent Taylor, have called state rules onerous and an infringement on the rights of property owners.

Treehouse's picture

Thank you

to Sierra Club and the Tennessee Holler and other folks who spoke up protesting this idea to benefit developers at the cost of the public health.

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