This is a real shame. Jeff Woods puts it in perspective:
With a coal company essentially promising to mine by blowing off the tops of Tennessee mountains, lawmakers inexplicably refused to act and all but guaranteed great swaths of ecologically important woodlands will be laid to waste.
The National Coal Corp. threatened to shut down in Tennessee if mountaintop mining were banned. So to save 234 jobs, the sum total of the company’s workforce, lawmakers decided to sacrifice the natural beauty that underpins a gazillion-dollar tourism industry.
There is some hope for next year, but tragedy looms if the legislature doesn't act soon:
Environmentalists say they’ll present their bill again next year, and the governor has indicated he might help this time. There’s a sense of urgency. Mountaintop mining is about to become more familiar to Tennessee. National Coal sold its operations in Kentucky this year to focus on mining in this state. The Tennessee Valley Authority’s coal-fired power plants are about to be fitted with newer pollution scrubbers, making this state’s high-sulfur, dirty-burning coal more marketable, according to Barger.