Congressman Cohen Questions TVA Commitment to Transparency in its Memphis Coal Ash Mitigation Plan

November 22, 2021
Press Release
In letter to CEO Jeffrey Lyash, asks whether community’s best interests were considered

WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), who has a long history of attempting to make the Tennessee Valley Authority accountable to the communities it serves, today wrote to the utility’s President and CEO Jeffrey Lyash to demand answers about TVA’s decision to dump toxic coal ash at a landfill in Whitehaven. Congressman Cohen questioned whether the company took the best interests of the local community into account in its decision and expressed doubt about the company’s professed commitment to addressing community concerns with transparency. The letter also noted that a site in Mississippi had been considered.

Congressman Cohen sought Lyash’s answers to 11 questions, including:

“When TVA became aware that its two final landfill choices would both have disproportionate impacts on minority, low-income environmental justice communities, did it revisit its range of potential alternatives to try to avoid those impacts? If not, why not?”

The Congressman’s letter reads in part:

“Over the past year, residents of South Memphis have endured an environmentally unjust attempt to build a pipeline through its predominately Black neighborhoods because a company viewed it as the “point of least resistance.” This potential environmental disaster that could have threatened our city’s drinking water and would have disrupted several residents’ property rights was averted through an extraordinary grassroots effort put together by the very community that would have been affected. Considering South Memphis residents’ recent experience standing up against environmental injustice, it is perplexing to me that TVA would not take the adequate steps to analyze site-specific impacts of its decision and solicit ample community feedback before dumping its waste in the exact same community. This is especially important considering the volume of truck traffic and accompanying noise, air pollution and safety impacts that will be endured by these residents for the next several years. It appears that TVA is woefully out of touch with the community it wants to impose its coal ash upon.”

See the Congressman’s entire letter here.