Republicans Block Cooper Amendment Advocating Community Input
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-5) this week proposed an amendment to the Ozone Standards Implementation Act that would have ensured states have the option of including local land use policies – such as zoning and local ordinances – in State Implementation Plans (SIPs).
SIPs are state-approved, long-term plans required for meeting federal air quality standards, such as controlling smog and other harmful pollutants. But existing law is ambiguous on including local land use policies in these SIPs.
Republicans blocked Rep. Cooper’s amendment from reaching the House floor. Under Rep. Cooper’s amendment, states would have retained final decision-making power over whether to include local input. However, the amendment would have given local communities greater input as states decide how land is allocated for various purposes.
A recent example involves the planned gas compressor station in Joelton, Tenn., where Rep. Cooper led a vocal yet unsuccessful charge to deny an industrial company’s plans to do business in a residential community. Rep. Cooper’s amendment would not have retroactively affected that case, but it would have applied to similar matters in the future.
“This has affected us in Middle Tennessee, but it’s a problem everywhere in America,” Rep. Cooper said. “There are good people in local communities and their concerns matter. They shouldn’t be steamrolled in the process.”
Catholic nuns in Pennsylvania confronted similar issues – recently documented in The Washington Post – when they built a chapel in a cornfield to block the path of a proposed gas pipeline.