Conservatives Outraged About Mountaintop Removal in Tennessee… By Chinese Company

Tennessee Conservative Union

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What’s it take to get conservatives in Tennessee fired up about blowing up mountains? China, apparently.

On Tuesday, the Tennessee Conservative Union, which bills itself as the state’s “largest and oldest conservative group,” started running anti-mountaintop removal coal mining ads on television throughout the state. Their complaint? The Chinese company Guizhou Guochuang Energy Holding Group announced last year that it is acquiring Triple H Coal Mining, which does mountaintop removal. The Tennessee Conservative Union ad warns that they will become “the first state in our great nation to permit the red Chinese to destroy our mountains and take our coal.”

“We’re proud that Tennessee is a red state,” the ad concludes. “But just how red are we willing to go?”

The ad comes off as anti-China, but it also offers a critique of mountaintop removal coal mining in general, which is the big news here. The ad comes just a day before committees in both the state Senate and House are expected to vote on the Scenic Vistas Protection Act, a bill activists have been trying to get passed in the state for six years. The measure would make it illegal to blow up mountaintops to mine coal. Supporters are taking TCU’s support for the bill as a sign that it might gain more traction this year.

“The Tennessee Conservative Union is 100% pro-Coal, but our organization does not support destroying our mountain heritage,” TCU Chairman Lloyd Daugherty said in a statement Tuesday. “Mountaintop removal mining kills jobs because it takes fewer workers to blow up a mountain.”

JW Randolph, Tennessee director of Appalachian Voices, a group that has been working to pass the anti-mountaintop removal law, welcomed the ad. “We don’t care if you’re from Bristol or Beijing, blowing up the oldest mountains in America for a few tons of coal is a bad idea,” he said. 

Here’s TCU’s ad:

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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