Senate Panel Hearing Impaired

Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe walked out of a congressional hearing on the TVA disaster Thursday morning.  Inhofe, a member of the  panel, stated he did not want to hear the testimony of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy Director Steven Smith, a man he calls an “extremist.”

Inhofe ranted that activists like Smith are taking advantage of the TVA collapse(s) to further their own political agendas. But, as Dave Cooper points out in this article, Inhofe has a political agenda of his own: to continue receiving massive campaign contributions from the coal industry.

[At the end of the article, Cooper includes videos taken of the Emory River near the dam before the collapse. I doubt this spot will be as popular this coming summer—or the next, or the next, or the next….]

Before leaving, Inhofe listened respectfully to TVA CEO Tom Gilmore explain that his company was doing everything possible to mitigate the damage, that the weather may be to blame for the disaster, and that he disagreed with independent tests showing the water to be highly toxic.

Amazingly, Inhofe wasn’t the only senator who acted with ingratiating deference toward Kilgore. Appalachian Voices Editor Bill Kovaric remarked,

 “The effusive praise in the hearing Thursday morning Jan. 8 went beyond the standard courtesies afforded witnesses in Senate hearings, perhaps because it was clear that the TVA’s CEO was a relic of a bygone age who would need to be handled with respect and care as he was ushered out the door.”

This has left environmental reporter Jeff Biggers wondering  if it will take dead bodies to raise the ire of Congress.

You can read about all three of TVA’s recent disasters in the blogs (and their comments), linked below.


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