Opinion » Editorial

TVA Wells


On Wednesday morning of this week, a meeting of true moment for Memphis-area residents was scheduled to be held in the county-government complex on Mullins Station Road in Shelby Farms. The purpose of the meeting, at the Construction Code Enforcement Office building, was for the Shelby County Water Quality Control Board to hear an appeal by Scott Banbury of the Sierra Club of the Tennessee Valley Authority's intent to drill two wells into the Memphis Sand aquifer.


However the Board should rule on this, one of the two entities contending in the matter — either TVA or the members of the local environmentalist movement associated with Banbury — will be certain to appeal the finding. So the saga will continue until some kind of ultimate resolution is achieved.

That being the case, our point here is to regret that the ground rules for Wednesday's hearing were unduly restrictive, in that the meeting, at TVA's request, was not to be held under the Tennessee Administrative Procedures Act, which would have allowed the appellants the right of discovery and the ability to subpoena witnesses. Moreover, the appellants were denied in their request for a modest continuance so as to allow several of their pre-arranged expert witnesses to return from a professional meeting that was being held in Ecuador this week.

The circumstances of the hearing were thus not ideal for either a full presentation of facts nor a sense of what we see as a clearly mounting community sentiment questioning TVA's intent to use water from the aquifer to cool its forthcoming natural-gas power plant. At issue is whether TVA's plans are a) unnecessary in light of other available coolant possibilities and b) possibly hazardous to the aquifer's supply of famously pure drinking water. 

Both matters go way beyond mere legalistic concerns and deserve the fullest possible even-handed public vetting. We trust that such will be allowed to take place.


The Recounts

While we have made our peace with the presidential-election results and don't foresee any likelihood of overturning them, we find no harm in the ongoing efforts by the Green Party's Jill Stein and others on behalf of official recounts in three key Midwestern states where the vote outcome was unusually close.

Given the anomaly of a relatively large popular-vote margin — 2.2 million and growing — for defeated candidate Hillary Clinton over electoral-vote winner Donald Trump, the need for the fullest possible accounting is both obvious and, as we see it, necessary to put to rest the ongoing doubts and recriminations. 

That President-elect Trump does not see things in that light and has resorted to ill-tempered and ad hominem tweets against the recount process is, we think, unfortunate and likely to further the sense of political divisiveness in the country. We can only hope that whoever it was in the Trump campaign that got temporary control of the candidate's tweeting finger in the last stages of the presidential campaign can now prevail on the president-elect to cease and desist in his objections until the counting is over and done. That's in his interest, too.

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