Category Archives: ash spill

Your Government Under Republicans

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before:

Ash Spill Shows How Watchdog Was Defanged

RALEIGH, N.C. — Last June, state employees in charge of stopping water pollution were given updated marching orders on behalf of North Carolina’s new Republican governor and conservative lawmakers.

“The General Assembly doesn’t like you,” an official in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources told supervisors called to a drab meeting room here. “They cut your budget, but you didn’t get the message. And they cut your budget again, and you still didn’t get the message.”

From now on, regulators were told, they must focus on customer service, meaning issuing environmental permits for businesses as quickly as possible. Big changes are coming, the official said, according to three people in the meeting, two of whom took notes. “If you don’t like change, you’ll be gone.”

But when the nation’s largest utility, Duke Energy, spilled 39,000 tons of coal ash into the Dan River in early February, those big changes were suddenly playing out in a different light. Federal prosecutors have begun a criminal investigation into the spill and the relations between Duke and regulators at the environmental agency.

This is how Republicans “govern.” We see it here in Tennessee and everywhere Republicans are put in charge. This is what they do. Defang the regulators and those charged with oversight under the guise of “creating jobs,” then when the inevitable happens and and families are forced to truck in their drinking at personal expense, Republican throw up their hands and say, “See! We told you so! We told you government can’t do anything right!”

It’s hard to feel sorry for the very people who keep voting for this nonsense in the first place because they buy into those ridiculous free market fairy tales. Except the sad thing is, we all end up paying.

Privatize gains, socialize losses. It’s the Republican way.


Filed under ash spill, environment, Republican Party

TVA, Killing Us Softly

We need to have a little chat about the Tennessee Valley Authority, aka, TVA (and by the way, on a “you didn’t build that” note? If you live in the seven-state Tennessee Valley region — almost all Red States, let me add — you are enjoying cheap power made possible by every taxpayer in the US of A. If you’ve got a factory or a business? You didn’t build that. Think VW or Nissan would open a factory here if we didn’t have a ready and reliable supply of cheap power? Yeah, seems the free market fairies didn’t have any incentive to wave their magic wands over this part of the country and bring flood control and electricity to the hicks and hayseeds here. It took that Commie Franklin D. Roosevelt and the U.S. Congress to do that. So suck on that one, why don’t you. But I digress).

First of all, TVA is ending its Generation Partners Program at the end of September and replacing it with something less attractive. They’re touting a 20-year contract, but they’re only buying energy at a premium (retail rate plus x-cents per KwH) for 10 years, and that amount is less than what those of us currently in the program receive. So they’re locking you in for a longer contract and paying you less. I’m still unclear as to what happens after 10 years, if they’ll just pay the base rate or if they expect you to give them the energy you generate for free. Surely … not?

With that in mind, let’s look at some other facts.

1- TVA really, really needs to improve its alternative energy investment. Like, really. On my latest “Green Power Switch” newsletter (that’s where customers voluntarily buy blocks of renewable energy at a cost of $4 per unit each month. It helps pay for stuff like the Generation Partners program), it broke down by actual percent which renewables comprise that program. Solar is a paltry 8%, which considering the investment in solar in this state — and the potential in the entire TVA region — is ridiculous. The bulk, actually, is biomass biogas. I don’t even consider that a renewable, frankly.


It’s actually worse than that. I finally found a link to the 2011 & 2012 “product content”. It’s 8% solar, 44% wind, and 48% biogas for 2012; in 2011, it was 14% solar, 32% biomass (not biogas, don’t know the difference) and 54% wind. That’s a huge shift.

I called TVA’s Renewable Energy Information Call Center and didn’t get a satisfactory answer to my question regarding the difference between biomass and biogas (both seem to be from agricultural waste?), let alone any information as to why TVA’s is purchasing less wind and solar this year versus last. I had to be transferred to TVA (that’s not who I was calling?) to get my very logcial questions answered. After getting transferred to TVA, waiting on hold, confusing another poor sop in the customer service department, waiting on hold again, and getting transferred to another person I got … voicemail.

* sigh *

Customer service FAIL.

Y’know, way, way back in another lifetime I actually worked for TVA. One thing I can tell you is that managers are forced to waste spend just ooodles amount of time going to training seminars, customer service seminars, this workshop thing, that off-site training doo-hickey. It’s amazing anyone can get anything done. And yet, you call to get two little perfectly logical questions answered and it’s like I asked them to explain the physics of a fucking nuke plant.

If I get any answers, y’all will be the first to know.

2- Right now we’re still dealing with the toxic aftermath of TVA’s December 2008 Kingston Coal Ash Spill, which dumped 1.1 billion gallons of coal slurry into the Tennessee, Clinch and Emory Rivers. That’s right, we’re still cleaning this mess up nearly four years later, and now it looks like we — oh and I do mean we, because that’s who’s paying for this, the ratepayers — will be out another $10 million for — get this — not to clean up the rest, oh no! But to “monitor” the ash and surrounding environment for 30 years. Yes because it’s just too fucking expensive to finish cleaning it up. I’m serious: they could spend up to $179 million cleaning up the “residual ash” (that’s on top of the $1.2 billion TVA estimated it would cost to clean up the bulk of the toxic mess). The rest, of course, got trucked to a landfill in the poor, predominantly African American Perry County, Alabama, where the people are so desperate for jobs they’ll happily pay the price of TVA’s dirty sins. Losses are always, always socialized by our poorest and most vulnerable. Shameful.

This is an untenable situation, not just for the people in Tennessee but for people far away who never used one kilowatt of the Kingston Fossil Plant’s energy. Seems like there could be a better way of generating electricity, one that doesn’t come with all of these social and financial costs. Oh, wait! There is! The program TVA is in the midst of killing.

TVA Invested In Clean Coal & All I Got Was A Billion Gallons Of Coal Sludge In My Living Room

And don’t think you can breathe a sigh of relief if you don’t live near Kingston. TVA operates 11 coal-fired plants and in 2009, storage problems were found at every one of them.

3- The NRDC has ranked Tennessee the 11th-worst state in the nation for coal-based air pollution. And we’re not even the worst in the TVA region! (click on the image to enlarge):

Hey Kentucky! You’re Number One!

The breakdown of where TVA states rank in this list is as follows:

1- Kentucky
8- North Carolina
9- Georgia
11- Tennessee
12- Virginia
14- Alabama
15- Mississippi

Yay, Mississippi! You’re finally last on a list that you want to be last on! Of course, you really don’t want to be on this list at all! (We keed, Mississippi. We keed because we lurve.)

So wrap your head around this one: every single TVA state is in the top of the “toxic 20” for electricity generation-related air pollution. TVA, you should be ashamed of yourselves. Really.

So let’s connect dots 1, 2 & 3 here: TVA’s anemic renewables program is getting less attractive to participants. But the way TVA currently generates electricity is toxic, costly and unsafe to both humans and the environment (and need I point out how redundant that is, because anything toxic to the environment is by default also toxic to humans. We cannot unhook ourselves from our planetary life support system).

Okay, anyone think this makes sense? No? Good.

The good news is that TVA is a quasi-public organization. The board is set by Congress. You can write your congress critters and tell them you want the board to reflect more sensitivity to renewables and environmental safety. Also, if you live in or near Knoxville, maybe you can sign up to speak at their August 16 board meeting. Maybe they need some Occupying to nudge them in the right direction.

Tell ’em Southern Beale sent ya.


Filed under alternative energy, ash spill, energy future, energy production, environment, Tennessee, TVA

Clean Coal Strikes Again

Looks like another coal slurry mess polluting a river in Tennessee:

Coal mining waste has tainted several miles of the New River in East Tennessee in violation of a permit held by Premium Coal at a plant in Devonia, TN, according to state information.

The release of a fine, grayish-black material that results when separating coal from shale and rock is estimated to have lasted 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Jan. 2.

The state was not notified at the time, as required, said Tisha Calabrese-Benton, spokeswoman for the Tennessee Department of Environment said.

Of course not! The glorious free hand of the market was supposed to fix the problem! Oppressive government agencies like the Tennessee Dept. of Environment & Conservation just get in the way of the natural order of things!

TDEC says slurry was found seven miles downstream, while the activist group Community eMpowerment says black water was seen 40 miles downstream from the coal processing plant. Just keep repeating: coal is cheap! And clean! And cheap!

And since we’re talking about “clean” coal, I’ve been wanting to update folks on the cleanup from our last big coal slurry disaster, the devastating 2008 Kingston Coal Ash spill, which dumped 1.1 billion (that’s with a “b”) gallons of toxic coal ash sludge into the Emory and Clinch Rivers, obliterating everything in its way (including homes). The cleanup involved hauling the toxic goop over 300 miles away to a landfill in Alabama, which just so happens to be located in Alabama’s poorest county. It’s also, surprise surprise, a predominantly African-American county. While landfill operators touted the 30 jobs and $3 million in “host fees” Perry County would receive, I wrote at the time that this placed the community in the untenable position of choosing between poverty and poison.

I wrote then:

And if taking this coal ash waste were such a great thing, well, we’ve got some landfills here in Tennessee, in counties that could use those jobs and that money. Gotta ask yourself why we’re shipping it out of state to begin with.

Well, it appears the residents of Perry County, AL asked that same question and have filed a civil right lawsuit against the Alabama Department of Environmental Management:

The complaint charges ADEM with violating Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prevents discrimination by government agencies that receive federal funds. ADEM receives millions of dollars in financial assistance from the EPA each year.


The population of Perry County is over 68 percent African-American, and over 35 percent falls below the poverty line, making it Alabama’s poorest county. The landfill is located near Uniontown, Ala., a community where 88 percent of residents are African-American and almost half live in poverty. The population in the census blocks surrounding the landfill range from 87 to 100 percent African-American (click on map for larger version).

The landfill sits only 100 feet from the front porches of some residents, who say they have experienced frequent foul odors, upset appetite, respiratory problems, headaches, dizziness, nausea and vomiting. They also complain that fugitive dust from the facility has contaminated their homes, porches, vehicles, laundry and plantings.

This is how the “free hand of the market” works in America. Coal is cheap, we tell ourselves, and it fuels our glorious lifestyle, and government support of clean technology like wind and solar is socialism. And then when the inevitable disaster strikes, we make our poorest citizens suffer the longterm consequences. Oh right, and be sure to tell these poor people living with radioactive, arsenic -laden coal sludge that their health problems are just proof of how irresponsible they are. Any notion they had of getting some kind of access to the world’s best healthcare is just more crazy socialism talk.

Anyone who can’t see how all of these issues are connected is simply lying to themselves. And who is going to solve this problem? The man from Bain Capital who fired thousands so his company could be more profitable? The intellectual policy wonk who is allergic to drama?

No. It’s our problem. We caused it. We are the ones who demanded “cheap” electricity, so we’ll just ignore the costs on things like healthcare, blame the people who are suffering, remind ourselves we’re a Christian nation, drop a check in the collection plate on Sunday and call it a day.

How much longer can we operate like this? Not much, I’m afraid.

Wake up, America.


Filed under ash spill, clean coal, eco-justice, environment, EPA, racism, Tennessee

>Hey TVA: Have You Read Your Mission Statement Lately?


Amazingly, TVA had no legal obligation to keep this from happening!

I guess this is some kind of legal maneuver over “standing” or some such (I don’t know, I’m not a lawyer), but apparently the Tennessee Valley Authority’s lawyers claim that 58 people suing over the Kingston coal ash spill were not harmed by their 1.1 billion gallons of toxic coal slurry spill back in December 2008.

The money quote is this:

The motion filed in Knoxville said TVA has no legal obligation to keep its reservoirs safe for public recreational use and enjoyment.

Really? You so sure about that?:

Mission Statement

The mission of the Tennessee Valley Authority is to develop and operate the Tennessee River system to improve navigation, minimize flood damage, and to provide energy and related products and services safely, reliably, and at the lowest feasible cost to residents and businesses in the multi-state Tennessee Valley region. TVA’s integrated management of the entire Tennessee River watershed optimizes the benefits of the water resource. Major functions of the corporation include:

• Management of the Tennessee River system for multiple purposes including navigation, flood control, power generation, water quality, public lands conservation, recreation, and economic development;
• Generation of electricity;
• Sale and transmission of electricity to wholesale and large industrial customers;
• Stimulation of economic development activities that generate a higher quality of life for citizens of the Tennessee Valley;
• Preservation and environmentally-sensitive management of TVA assets and federal lands entrusted to TVA; and
• Research and technology development that addresses environmental problems related to TVA’s statutory responsibilities for river and land management and power generation.

Again, I’m not a lawyer, but it sure sounds to me like TVA has a legal obligation to keep its reservoirs safe for public recreational use and enjoyment. We’re always hearing about TVA’s tri-fold mission of power generation, economic development and natural resource management. It’s something they tout everywhere, including places like this:

What is TVA?

The Tennessee Valley Authority is a federal corporation and the nation’s largest public power company. As a regional development agency, TVA supplies reliable, competitively priced power, supports a thriving river system and stimulates sustainable economic development in the public interest. TVA operates fossil fuel, nuclear and hydropower plants, and also produces energy from renewable sources. It manages the nation’s seventh-largest river system to reduce flood damage, produce power, maintain navigation, provide recreational opportunities and protect water quality in the 41,000-square-mile watershed.

I realize lawyer-types like to weasel their way around the law by saying things like “our client has no legal obligation to keep its reservoirs safe for public recreational use and enjoyment,” leaving us all to assume that whatever river and land management they’ve done up to this point has been out of the goodness of said clients’ hearts. But having worked for TVA in a former life and constantly having their trifold mission drilled into my head I am thinking … no. I have to say all of us in the Tennessee Valley are certainly operating under the assumption that there is a legal obligation to manage the river system for things like recreation which, let’s face it, is a key part of the economic development picture.

But again, I’m not a lawyer. I will say this: if the courts agree that TVA has no legal obligation to keep its reservoirs safe for public recreational use and enjoyment, then the first order of business should be amending the TVA Act to make sure that they do.


Filed under ash spill, clean coal, legal, TVA

Choosing Between Poverty & Poison

I’m watching a re-run of CBS 60 Minutes’ piece on toxic e-waste sent to China. This quote from Jim Puckett of watchdog group Basel Action Network resonated:

“It’s a helluva choice between poverty and poison. We should never make people make that choice.”

Damn straight. It’s what we’re talking about when we discuss “environmental racism” and “eco-justice.” It’s also little different from how we are dealing with the toxic coal ash from last year’s Kingston Fossil Plant spill, save by degrees. Indeed, the toxic coal ash from Kingston is now being hauled to a landfill in economically depressed, predominantly African American Perry County, Ala. And it’s causing a rift in that community because we’ve basically asked those folks to make a choice we never should have burdened them with.

These stories always seem to follow the same pattern. On the one hand there is the lure of money and jobs:

A per-ton “host fee” that the landfill operators pay the county will add more than $3 million to the county’s budget of about $4.5 million.

The ash has created more than 30 jobs for local residents in a county where the unemployment rate is 17 percent and a third of all households are below the poverty line.

Money is great but short term profits are not worth long term environmental and health damage, say many in the community:

“I won’t feel comfortable,” wrote W. Compson Sartain, a columnist for The Perry County Herald, “until I see a delegation from E.P.A. and T.V.A. standing on the courthouse square, each member stirring a heaping spoonful of this coal ash into a glass of Tennessee river water this stuff has already fallen into, and gargling with it.”

(Sartain might be interested in United Mountain Defense’s challenge to “clean coal” pitchman/sport fisherman Jeremy Starks, as well.)

And, as always, there is a general lack of education and information about the risks:

Mr. Cureton reasoned that the ash, a byproduct of burning coal to produce electricity, could not be more dangerous than the remnants of the coal that heated his schoolroom growing up, or the ash his father, a farmer, sprinkled at the base of his fruit trees.

But coal ash from a power plant has a higher concentration of toxins because mercury, arsenic and other substances that are filtered out by air pollution controls end up in the ash. Since the spill in Tennessee, the Environmental Protection Agency has promised to issue new regulations for coal ash, potentially classifying it as a hazardous waste.

People like Mr. Cureton, who I have no doubt is sincere in his efforts to do the best for his community, are why issues of environmental racism and eco-justice are so pernicious. But I’d remind these people that there is no such thing as a free lunch. And if taking this coal ash waste were such a great thing, well, we’ve got some landfills here in Tennessee, in counties that could use those jobs and that money. Gotta ask yourself why we’re shipping it out of state to begin with.

Of course, none of this would be an issue if “clean coal” were as “clean” as the coal lobby likes to pretend.

I use the pronoun “we” for a reason in this post. Because this is our mess. We all created it, in our use electricity. Of course, we have few choices if we’re going to live a normal life in this culture. But there are things we can do. We can conserve. We can sign up for programs like TVA’s Green Power Switch. And some of us can help generate alternative fuels by putting solar panels on our roofs.

And maybe in this way we can bring some justice and jobs to our neighbors, instead of dumping our toxic trash on them.

Because we should never ask anyone to choose between poverty and poison so we can prosper and live in comfort.

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Filed under ash spill, clean coal, eco-justice, environment, TVA

Report: Big Problems At TVA Coal Ash Sites

Can’t say we didn’t see this one coming, but at least it’s now official:

Consultants hired by the Tennessee Valley Authority report widespread problems with how the federal utility is running and maintaining its coal ash storage operations.

By the way, TVA is not just a “federal utility,” it is a federally owned corporation. But I digress:

The report by McKenna Long and Aldridge of Atlanta follows the massive spill of more than 5 million cubic yards of coal ash December 22 at the Kingston Fossil Plant about 40 miles west of Knoxville.

The consultants said the “necessary systems, controls and culture were not in place” to properly manage the coal ash sites at TVA’s 11 coal-fired power plants.

The report found TVA had no standard operating or maintenance procedures and failed to conduct annual training for engineers doing inspections. It said there was little or no internal
communication between the four TVA divisions responsible for ash retention.

The firm presented its findings to the TVA board Tuesday.

Hmm, with that in mind, I remind everyone that last February TVA shuffled its executive staff around, moving former coal operations chief Preston Swafford to head TVA’s nuclear operations.

Let’s hope Mr. Swafford manages TVA’s nuclear waste better than he did its coal ash.

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Filed under ash spill, clean coal, Tennessee, TVA

>Maryland Learns The Truth About Clean Coal

>So much for “clean coal”: a 4,000-gallon coal ash spill at a Maryland paper mill narrowly avoided disaster by, luckily, being only 4,000 gallons (Tennessee’s was over a billion gallons).

In other news: paper mills create coal ash sludge? Apparently, yes:

The ash comes from coal the company burns to power the mill. Three 800-foot pipelines carry the ash to a 1.2 million gallon storage lagoon across the river.

Wow, that’s alarming news. How many smaller coal sludge lagoons dot the landscape across the country, I wonder? Who’s regulating them? Who’s monitoring them? Who’s watching the pipelines to make sure there aren’t any leaks, which is what happened here?

These coal ash ponds contains arsenic, radioactive elements, and other toxins. And apparently they’re as common as swimming pools in Southern California.

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Filed under ash spill, clean coal

>What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

>Is this supposed to make us feel better?

The Tennessee Valley Authority is reshuffling its executive staff, in part to help respond to the challenges of cleaning up the ash spill at the Kingston Fossil Plant, the utility announced today.

Preston Swafford, formerly head of TVA’s coal operations, will become TVA’s nuclear chief, the utility said. Mr. Swafford replaces Bill Campbell, who is being named to a new position over engineering operations.


So the executive who was over TVA’s coal operations during this whole toxic ash spill mess has been moved to the nuclear power division?

Is this a joke?

Look, I have no idea what Preston Swafford’s involvement in the Kingston coal ash spill was, but I’ve always suspected that repairs to the leaky coal sludge pond were done on the cheap at the behest of TVA bureaucrats, not Kingston plant management (and yes, I blogged about it last month).

If that was Swafford’s call, he should be fired, not promoted. And he definitely shouldn’t be put in charge of a power generating division that poses even higher risks to public safety than a coal plant.

(h/t, R. Neal)

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Filed under ash spill, environment, nuclear energy, TVA

Hello, EPA? Tennessee Calling

This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard:

Tennessee Congressmen Zach Wamp and Lincoln Davis are hoping to bail out TVA by asking for a $25 million federal welfare package to subsidize cleanup of the agency’s recent toxic ash spill.

The two congressmen want the money to come from President Obama’s stimulus package, a Rooseveltian public projects scheme designed to beef up the economy. But while bailouts are all the rage these days–and the congressmen are only trying to help TVA customers, who’ll pick up the tab for the agency’s negligence–the move looks suspiciously like pork. Simply having the feds pick up the tab won’t create any new jobs.

I’ll ignore Kotz’ ridiculous assertion that all federal spending is somehow “welfare” or “pork.” What I don’t get is why the Kingston coal ash site is not eligible for Superfund emergency response funds. That’s what the fund is for: to cleanup after emergencies,

such as fires, train derailments, and floods, involving the release of hazardous substances.

I also don’t understand this letter I received from Sen. Bob Corker:

I have talked directly with Roane County Mayor Mike Farmer and TVA CEO Tom Kilgore and assured all involved that I will support appropriate measures at the federal level, however I am opposed to spending federal taxpayer money to support cleanup efforts at Kingston. There’s been an effort through the years to cause TVA to be a self-standing entity, to have a corporate-like board and to run independently.  I think when we start seeking federal dollars to deal with TVA, we start a process of unwinding something that took several years to put in place. In meetings with TVA though, I have asked for and received assurance from them that they will make every effort possible to limit the burden on TVA ratepayers and ensure that those affected by this incident are taken care of and their homes, property, and livelihoods restored.

Oh, well, I’m sure that everything will be okay, then.

I don’t know what TVA’s “ self-standing,” “corporate-like” structure has to do with the need to protect the environment and the health of those who depend on the air, water and soil in the affected area. Superfund does not distinguish between toxic pollution caused by “corporate” or “government” entities. Tennessee’s Superfund sites include both.

I admit to being a little out of the loop on the current status of the Superfund. Originally the guiding principal of the Superfund was “the polluter pays.” I know over the years some of the country’s biggest polluters have tried to roll back the Superfund legislation, and I recall the tax on toxic chemicals which partially funded the program was eliminated back in the ‘90s. I read that the fund is now paid for out of government appropriations, instead of the “polluter pays” rule that had been the program’s hallmark. I’m sure eight years of an industry-friendly EPA under the mismanagement of tools like Stephen Johnson hasn’t helped. But the program is still in existence.

Why can’t the people of East Tennessee make use of it? Why are our representatives in Congress not working with the EPA to ensure this happens?

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Filed under ash spill, EPA, TVA

>Nobody Could Have Anticipated, TVA Edition

>Over at Grist, Peter B. Meyer wonders why TVA didn’t anticipate the coal ash spill.

Meyer’s piece is a little wonky but basically what I think he’s saying is that the cost-benefit analysis approach to projects like, say, repairing a coal ash retention pond is flawed, because it fails to take into consideration all of the possible costs and outcomes, as so many of them are unknowable to begin with. Instead, they just look at the likely costs and outcomes. And in today’s world of advanced technology, likely is not sufficient. Accidents–devastating ones–are the new “normal.” They are not exceptional events.

In other words: shit happens.

I sorta touched on this here, when I mentioned TVA going the low-budget spit-and-a-prayer route to fix the leaky Kingston ash pond, instead of opting for the $25 million “global fix.” As a result of this judgment error, they are at least $100 million in the hole, people have lost their homes, the environment is destroyed, etc, etc.

Meyer writes of TVA’s decision:

So, that tells us the TVA figured the probability of a spill multiplied by the likely cost to clean up was less than $25 million in current dollars in 2003.

They were badly wrong. Why?

The expected value calculation appears to have assigned a zero probability to a spill as massive as the one that occurred. That’s as if you carried an umbrella in the rain even though you might melt if you got wet, and assigned a zero probability to the possibility of high winds or hail. That’s not rational.

Assigning that zero likelihood also meant that there was no serious effort to calculate the cost of such a massive failure.

With all due respect to Peter Meyer, I think he is being awfully charitable here. I find it difficult to believe that engineers never considered the possibility that the Kingston dam would completely fail, especially after it was already leaking. I also find it hard to believe that someone, somewhere, never put pencil to paper and figured out what cost that kind of devastation would rack up.

I think something else was happening. I think a bunch of bureaucrats–probably in Knoxville HQ or Chattanooga, and probably a few folks in Washington D.C., too–thought it would be better to keep their fingers crossed and whisper the magic incantation they hoped would keep chaos at bay. They knew better, alright. They just hoped they wouldn’t be left in the hot seat when the shit hit the fan.

Isn’t that the way it’s been across virtually every sector of American life for the past ten to fifteen years? Just cross your fingers and hope the piper doesn’t come calling. Keep borrowing money and hope the creditors don’t catch up to you. Keep giving loans to people you know are bad risks, and hope that doesn’t blow up in your face.

Keep putting off repairing levees in New Orleans and hope “the big one” doesn’t come. Keep ignoring PDB’s warning of a domestic terrorist attack. Keep making gas-guzzling highway hogs and hope rising gas prices never come. Keep building bigger McMansions and hope people still have the cheap credit to buy them.

That’s worked so well for us, hasn’t it? “No one could have anticipated” has become our national punchline.

I don’t see why TVA should be any different from the rest of us. And if TVA has been living this way, then you’d better believe your local power utility has been doing the same.

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Filed under ash spill, environment, TVA