Sunday, March 6, 2016

Sen. Steve Dickerson moves to stop the rock quarry near Old Hickory Dam.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A State Senator has been among those who want to try and stop a rock quarry from blasting near the Old Hickory Dam.

Senator Steven Dickerson has planned to present the Dam Safety Act to the Senate Energy, Agriculture and Natural Resource Committee on Monday.

The act would stop rock quarries from blasting within a mile of any government-operated dam in Tennessee.

The bill has aimed to protect dams in Tennessee. Most of them are over half a century old. (link)

My comment: I support this effort of Senator Dickerson. I believe in private property rights and I support small government.  However, I am not purist and a fanatic.  Between the extreme of a purely libertarian anarcho-capitalist concept of the stateless society and a Dictatorship of the Proletariat Marxist Leviathan concept of the state, there are hundreds of shades of gray.  I am normally hesitant to embrace taking of ones property without a public purpose and stopping someone from doing with their property what they could previously do is a "taking," however, in this case it is justified. Those who think government should never expand and think the market can deal with all issues would say that insurance and the courts can dispense justice should blasting from a rock quarry cause a dam to fail. I am not buying that argument.

The problem with that is that by the time the damage is done, resulting in loss of life and millions in damage, it may be difficult to prove in a court of law that the blasting caused the dam to fail and the dead people will be dead and the damage will be done. Also, if a multi million dollar damage is awarded then the rock quarry company simply goes bankrupt. If there were no limits on damages, then the bond would be so huge that no company could purchase the insurance to proceed with development of rock quarry near a dam. Theoretically, if the law was amended to remove the cap on damages and to require a certain level of insurance, this issue could be resolved without a law specifically prohibiting building a quarry near a dam. That may be one way to address this problem, but I support the more direct and more certain approach of Senator Dickerson.

Common sense says that it is not wise to blast near an old dam.  Governance is often about making common sense tough decision and making exception from theoretical preferred principals. It is often about where to land on those shades of gray. I support this common sense proposal to stop rock quarries from locating near dams.

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