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State legislature should do better

The title, “Returning to Work,” could mean the materials in products we discard after single or short use.
If recycled rather than landfilled or incinerated, these plastic, glass or precious-metal substances can make new products.
By going to work a second or third time or more, they can minimize the scalping of landscapes through mining and the heavy toll on communities and plant and animal species which mining takes.
Their use reduces water pollution and keeps down greenhouse gases and other, health-damaging air pollutants. It saves crude oil by the millions of barrels.
The report by the Container Recycling Institute means to show primarily the benefit of jobs to be gained when beverage containers, the most common and sought-after household recyclables, are returned to the manufacturing cycle.
Recovering beverage containers at the curbside creates at least five times more jobs than leaving them in the garbage stream, but container deposit systems create 11 to 38 times more jobs than curbside recycling.
For eight years to no avail, some Tennessee organizations and legislators, supported overwhelmingly by the citizens, have sought to bring the benefits of a container deposit system to our state. The legislature has failed them.
In his April e-newsletter, Sen. Lamar Alexander references another of our lawmaker’s failure on vital environmental and citizen interests.
After five consecutive years, notes the Knoxville News Sentinel cited by Alexander, “it is really a pity that the Tennessee Legislature can’t pass a bill protecting the state’s wonderful scenic mountains from the ravages of mountaintop-removal mining for coal.”
Purportedly needing yet more time to examine this legislation, the lawmakers assigned it to a summer study group — to “legislative Siberia” in the Sentinel’s words.
Under federal legislation introduced by Alexander two years ago, mountaintop removal would cease to be a permitted mining method.
Like the majority of Tennessee citizens, and the framers of the scenic-vistas bill, the Senator holds that our streams and mountaintops need not be destroyed to get at coal.
We should be demanding a serious, constituency-responsive “returning-to-work” from our legislators to solve such important problems.
After years of procrastination on the above concerns, the Tennessee House did find time to study and adopt a Resolution (H.R.587) in March.
This warns “the federal and state and local governments across the country” against “dangerous, socialist/communist,” radical policies of the United Nations, in its voluntary sustainability principles known as Agenda 21.
As the Tennessean pointed out, much of the resolution, “word for word” was drawn from a “model bill that the John Birch Society offers on its website.”
Agenda 21, it notes further, is a nonbinding plan adopted by at least 178 governments (including the U.S.) in 1992, that “talks about the need to work together to find ways to ensure clean water and clean air and stable food supplies as the planet’s population grows.”
Bashing the United Nations and failing to tend to urgent state environmental issues hardly seem noble acts or praiseworthy performance by the Tennessee Legislature this session.