This week, a federal judge denied a group of citizens' request to halt TVA's tree-trimming policy.
A group of West Knoxville residents filed a lawsuit to prevent TVA from cutting trees around the power lines in the Westminster Place subdivision. They claim the policy is too strict, and that TVA should have gotten an environmental impact study. Until the lawsuit is heard, they wanted Judge Thomas Varlan to grant a temporary injunction stopping TVA from cutting any trees.
TVA argues that this policy is not new. Officials say they are simply more strictly enforcing an existing policy, to prevent the possibility of large federal fines if overgrown trees should cause a power outage.
Judge Varlan sided with TVA on the injunction. He wrote:
"The Court does not dispute that preservation of the environment is in the public interest, but as discussed, it
is not likely that TVA was required to undertake any more environmental review than it did. Plaintiffs further assert the opposition from various public officials and entities indicates that
the 2012 reclearing project is not in the public interest. The Court also notes, however, that the public has an interest in maintaining electricity and not allowing TVA to implement its
reclearing policy for 2012 could harm this interest. Indeed, disturbances of the transmission of power affect the reliability of many devices relied upon by the general public, including,
for example, security systems, production devices, medical devices, water purification and sewage treatment systems, fire and safety systems, and communication systems."
In an email to 10News, Larry Silverstein, one of the plaintiff's, said they were very disappointed in the ruling.
"I have always maintained that fighting TVA would be a difficult thing to do, but it must be done in order to try to stop them from destroying private and public property and damaging wildlife and the environment," said Silverstein.
(May 17, 2012) Thursday, TVA's recent tree cutting program came under debate yet again. This time in U.S. District Court.
There are several plaintiffs in East Tennessee building a case against TVA as they have lost trees under TVA's recent tree clearing efforts.
In a recent motion filed, the plaintiffs asked a judge to stop TVA's tree cutting and require TVA to submit an environmental impact study. They would like a temporary injunction while litigation is pending.
Thursday morning, the lawyers for the plaintiff's said TVA should have filed an environmental impact study or an equivalent, and chose not to do so and are misrepresenting their tree cutting policy.
TVA's lawyer said they did not have to file an environmental impact study and proved they had enough evidence that it would not hurt the overall environment.
Judge Varlan will not rule on this motion for several days to weeks.
The judge did say granting an injunction like this is an "extraordinary remedy."