Wednesday, May 18, 2016

What happened at the Council meeting of 5-17-16? Stopping the Gas Compressor station

I have not watched the full Council meeting of yesterday and don't think I will.  There was just not that much that grabbed my attention when I read the agenda. Also, I have watched enough meetings of this Metro Council to know that there is not a single council member who will do something radical like vote against the confirmation of an appointee to Human Relations Commission. The vote of all forty members is predictable.  Since there wasn't much of interest on the agenda anyway and no mavericks on the Council to make the meetings interesting, I thought I would just wait and read the minutes of the meeting. Since then, however, I have discovered there was one item that created some interest and controversy and that is the bill to regulate gas compressor stations so I have skimmed the meeting until I found that portions and watched that.

If you want to view the agenda, the staff analysis of the agenda and my commentary on the agenda, follow this link. One learns a lot more about the important issues before the Council by watching the meetings of the Budget and Finance Committee rather than the Council meeting itself.  There is some real explanation and discussion that takes place at B&F.  To view the B&F meeting of May 16th follow this link.

The bill that was on the agenda last night which proved controversial is BILL NO. BL2016-234.  It would add “natural gas compressor stations” to a list of facilities regulated as a “major source” of air pollutants which require a local permit and would do some other things. This is part of an attempt to stop proposed natural gas compression stations planned for Joelton and Cain Ridge. Federal law says that local government can not stop these developments and the Federal government has the right to permit them basing that authority on the Commerce Clause. However, there is a multi-step process whereby a local government may gain permitting authority and this is part of that process to gain that authority. Unexpectedly, the State Chamber of Commerce, the Middle Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and the Tennessee chapter of the NFIB have come out in opposition to the measure.

There are a lot of people in the audience wearing yellow "no gas compressor" tee shirts.  It appears there would be serious drawbacks should this legislation pass. This issue is more complex than one might assume. An attempt is made to defer the bill and that fails. The bill passes on Second reading on a voice vote and is refereed back to committee. To view the portion of the meeting where this bill is discussed go to time stamp 1:05:30 - 1:39:00.

Here is The Tennessean's report on the issue: Gas compressor air quality bill opposed by business groups. Also, Bill targeting gas compressors in Nashville advances.

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