We know you've all been waiting on pins and needles to know what's been going on with the trees TVA's been cutting down, which we reported on back in April. Well, there's an update in the legal battle to prevent TVA from cutting down whatever they want on their easements, and it's not a promising one if you happen to be a tree. Or a homeowner in possession of such trees.
As the KNS reported this morning, "Judge Tom Varlan did not grant a preliminary injunction that would halt TVA's tree-cutting efforts" last Friday, which means TVA can continue its vegetation management plan as scheduled ... at least until the lawsuit goes to court. We also learned that since we last reported on the matter, Knox County DA Randy Nichols and his wife have joined the lawsuit, giving it a little more star power.
We got an e-mail today about the ruling from Larry Silverstein, the activist who's led the fight against the tree-cutting. He's down but not too disheartened.
Of course, I am very disappointed with this decision which dealt only with the specific question of whether or not TVA followed the environmental law requirements before beginning the policy of cutting down all the trees which are, or could be, 15 feet or taller and throughout the entire width of the easements.If we had been successful in obtaining the Preliminary Injunction, the Court would likely have stopped all cutting of trees pending the resolution of the litigation. Instead, the cutting can continue as planned by TVA, unless and until we are ultimately successful in getting an Injunction granted by the Court, or unless TVA on its own changes its policy.TVA says it will provide at least two weeks notice of cutting trees, but just to those plaintiffs named in the lawsuit, which could allow time for an emergency motion to the Court to prevent cutting from taking place on those limited properties.Therefore, time is of the essence as TVA continues to cut down trees and widely apply herbicide to trees and other vegetation.On June 14, 2012, TVA filed a Motion to Dismiss the other three counts of the Amended Complaint. A response will be filed in the next few weeks.I still believe that we have a very strong case regarding property law, specifically the limited rights of easement holders, such as TVA, to do reasonable and necessary maintenance on their easement, without doing damage to the underlying property which they do not own.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.We have always had two tracks in this battle: the legal/litigation track, and the non-legal track which involves putting public pressure on TVA and its Board to change the policy. This track also includes getting our elected officials to join us in pressuring TVA to do the right thing and changing its policy.We have received support from many of these public officials, but obviously their efforts in the form of Resolutions and discussions with TVA have not resulted in changes to the policy yet. We need to renew our efforts on this track and will continue to explore what else can be done to put pressure on TVA while the litigation continues.While there is disappointment with the recent Opinion, the battle continues on many fronts with great determination.
Oh, and if you want, you can download and read the full judicial opinion right here: