TCPR Gives ‘Lump of Coal’ to Roane County Agency for Questionable Coal-Ash Clean-Up Spending

Press Release from the Tennessee Center for Policy Research, Dec. 22. 2010:

Coal Ash Spill Foundation Takes Dubious Prize for Unscrupulous Actions

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Center for Policy Research (TCPR), the state’s free market think tank, today announced the Roane County Economic Development Foundation as the recipient of its “2010 Lump of Coal Award.”

TCPR awards this dubious distinction annually to the person or group in Tennessee who, more than any other over the past year, acted as a Grinch to Tennesseans by bah-humbugging the principles of liberty and limited government.

The Roane County Economic Development Foundation receives the sixth annual badge of disgrace for mismanaging millions of dollars in the wake of a 2008 coal ash spill. The spill occurred at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Kingston-area coal plant in December 2008, releasing 5.4 million cubic yards of ash on to 300 acres of nearby land.

TVA officials offered $43 million in federal money to local government officials—all designed to help the community recover from the disaster. Those government officials, along with TVA representatives, organized themselves into the Roane County Economic Development Foundation and distributed the money as they saw fit.

Unfortunately, local property owners harmed by the spill got scrooged. The foundation dispersed the money to its members’ favorite political pet projects, none of which were affected by the spill. For instance, the foundation doled out $1.7 million to a dilapidated theater and $200,000 to a public library, both several miles from the ash spill.

“The holiday season is all about giving, but as the Roane County Economic Development Foundation has proven, this year greed is government’s motto,” said TCPR President Justin Owen. “At least the local property owners impacted by the ash spill will have a fancy new theater and library to visit when they take a break from cleaning up the mess TVA left behind.”

TCPR Director of Government Accountability Chris Butler documented the story, along with reaction from local residents when they found out about the foundation’s naughty actions. The entire story can be read at: www.tennesseewatchdog.org.

“Given that they dumped coal on local residents and refused to clean it up, it’s ironic yet fitting that the Roane County Economic Development Foundation should win this award,” noted Owen. “We don’t even need to send the lump of coal…there is plenty of it left on the property of nearby homeowners.”

TCPR is an independent, nonprofit, and nonpartisan organization committed to providing free market solutions to public policy issues in Tennessee. Through research, advocacy, and investigative reporting, TCPR advances ideas grounded in the principles of free markets, individual liberty, and limited government.