Hello Volunteer State!! How about you voluntarily read up on congressional candidates’ sustainable platforms and find a good one to vote for, Tennessee! To learn more about Sustainable Politician Project, read our full intro here.
Voting in Tennessee
Your polls for Congress are open, but you’re supposed to already be registered with a political party in order to vote. (But you can also declare your affiliation at the polls themselves and vote anyway. It’s not a very enforceable rule.) Your primary election is on August 2, and the candidates only need a plurality vote in order to move onto the general election in November.
Things on the ballot: U.S. Senate, U.S. House, Governor, state executive offices, state senate, state house, local judges, local ballot measures, school boards, municipal government, and candidate ballot access.
Your Senate candidates don’t provide too much information regarding sustainability or the environment, so we aren’t endorsing a candidate, but providing what we could find.
- Phil Bredesen (D)
- Gary Davis (D)
- John Wolfe (D)
- Marsha Blackburn (R) – (Campaign Site) – As Tennessee 7th district representative, Marsha has shown some conflicting viewpoints here. While she seems to value clean air and water, she supports an “all of the above” energy plan, which uses all energy sources–renewable and fossil fuels. And it’s all negative from here, folks. She opposes the Clean Power Plan (which works to reduce pollution and keep the air clean) and feels like the EPA is overreaching its power (which also works to keep the air clean. It kind of seems like she doesn’t care about the air too much after all.)
- Aaron Pettigrew (R)
- Trudy Austin (Independent) – Took a political courage test in 2000, which shows support for strengthening the Clean Air & Water Acts, investing in renewable energy to reduce pollution, and increase logging restrictions (source).
- John Carico (Independent)
- Dean Hill (Independent)
- Kevin Lee McCants (Independent)
- Breton Phillips (Independent)
- Kris Todd (Independent)
U.S. House of Representatives
Find your district here.
Our pick: Martin Olsen
- Ob/Gyn physician
Martin supports some good sustainable basics, like an increased development of renewable energy, preservation, and the Paris Climate Agreement. If you look closely at his website, you can find a blog he wrote that gets a little more in-depth. He’s concerned about the loss of native Tennessee species, like chestnut trees, mollusks, and hemlock trees. He fears the EPA and the organization’s new leadership is not fighting for the environment’s best interests but instead working to weaken regulations and brush aside the scientific supports. He knows the EPA should uphold standards put in place to protect the health of the environment and the public.
Other District 1 Candidates:
- Phil Roe (R) – Incumbent – Mostly bad news here, folks. Your current representative supports an “all of the above” energy plan, which includes renewable sources and fossil fuels, and applauds the current administration’s decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement. He also opposes the Clean Power Plan and finds that the EPA oversteps with regulations at times. We do have some good news, though. While working for Johnson City, he participated in gas capping methane at the city’s landfill, which is great because it kept the greenhouse gas from burning into the atmosphere.
- Mickie Lou Banyas (R)
- James Brooks (R)
- Todd McKinley (R)
- Michael Salyer (Libertarian)
Our pick: Renee Hoyos
- Executive Director of Tennessee Clean Water Network
- Chairperson of the Board of Directors for the National Clean Water Network
As you can tell from her bio list, Renee is very concerned about protecting clean water and citizen health. This is exactly the kind of stuff you should be looking for–candidates whose pasts already show dedication to your values. Well, Renee is one of them. In Congress, she is looking to stop cuts to the EPA in order for the organization to continue protecting clean air and water. She also plans to push for more energy source options for Tennessee citizens by pressuring your provider, TVA, to expand their energy portfolio to renewable sources, and allow consumers to choose their source. She reminds citizens that protecting the environment is strongly tied to energy use, and for this reason, clean energy needs significant expansion.
Other District 2 Candidates:
- Joseph Schenkenfelder (D)
- Joshua Williams (D) – Understands that environmental protection should be a priority, along with carbon reduction and promoting clean energy.
- Tim Burchett (R) – Wants to continue offshore drilling and thinks there are too many restrictions preventing drilling.
- Jason Emert (R) – Thinks the EPA is overstepping with regulations.
- Hank Hamblin (R)
- Jimmy Matlock (R) – Doesn’t think energy should be regulated (AKA, free to exploit fossil fuels).
- Sarah Nickloes (R)
- Vito Sagliano (R)
- C. David Stansberry (R)
- Jeffrey Grunau (Independent)
- Keith LaTorre (Independent)
- Greg Samples (Independent)
- Marc Whitmire (Independent)
Our pick: Danielle Mitchell
- Opened her own clinic
While Danielle doesn’t give too many details about her sustainable views, she does provide a solid base. Firstly, she’s big on preservation, specifically referring to the Tennessee River and parks. (The river is also a big part of your economy too, not just recreation.) Danielle is concerned about polluters contaminating the air, water, and soil, and as a doctor herself, her main concern is protecting the people. This is why she is looking to reduce pollution and make sure the environment is safe for the public.
Other District 3 Candidates:
- Charles Fleischmann (R) – (Campaign Site) – Incumbent – Your current representative supports an “all of the above” energy policy, which includes renewable sources and fossil fuels. Specifically, he’s looking to drill for oil in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, which isn’t what we want from a sustainable candidate. You should note, however, that Charles is committed to cleaning up nuclear waste, especially in your district, so there’s some good stuff there.
- Jeremy Massengale (R)
- Harold Shevlin (R)
- William Spurlock Sr. (R) – Wants to drill for oil in Alaska, but also says we must preserve our natural lands and resources. Hm, interesting contradiction there.
- Rick Tyler (Independent)
Our pick: Mariah Phillips
Mariah doesn’t talk too much about sustainability, but she cares a lot about preserving open spaces–including wetlands, forests, and parks. She’s looking to protect access to these areas and ensure their conservation. This is especially important for your recreation and economy.
Other District 4 Candidates:
- Steven Reynolds (D)
- Christopher Hale (D)
- Scott DesJarlais (R) – Incumbent – Wants to drill for oil in our country, feels there should be fewer restrictions to do so, and approved the Keystone XL pipeline. We aren’t fans.
- Jack Maddux (R) – Thinks regulations–particularly regulations for coal–are too burdening. Not fans of this one either.
- Michael Shupe (Independent)
Our pick: Jim Cooper
- Incumbent since 2002
- Summary: Decent views, but voted for Keystone XL pipeline.
Jim’s looking for energy independence with a focus on clean energy. He believes that all people have a responsibility to protect the environment, and he has done so by consistently supporting clean energy, supporting the Clean Air Act, advocating for cap-and-trade policies (which works to reduce pollution), and supporting the Endangered Species Act.
Other District 5 Candidates:
Jody Ball (R) – Supports energy independence and thinks our country should seek sources within our own borders, which suggests an “all of the above” approach (renewable sources and fossil fuels).
Our pick: Lloyd Dunn
Lloyd seeks an increase in clean energy and reduction of fossil fuels, particularly with coal. He opposes drilling in national parks, wildlife areas, and in shores in order to protect these areas from potential harm. He supports the EPA and hopes for the organization’s continued goal of protecting the environment and the public. A political courage test from 2016 also shows his support for regulating greenhouse gas emissions, funding open space preservation, and upping the restrictions on fracking (source).
Other District 6 Candidates:
- Dawn Barlow (D)
- Christopher Finley (D)
- Peter Heffernan (D)
- Merrilee Wineinger (D)
- Bob Corlew (R)
- Judd Matheny (R)
- Christopher Monday (R)
- John Rose (R)
- LaVern Vivio (R)
- David Ross (Independent) – In a political courage test from 2016, David declared that he does not support funding renewable energy developments or regulating greenhouse gas emissions. He supported the Keystone XL pipeline but did not support the pipeline traveling through reservations. He also supported an increase in fracking restrictions but does not believe humans contribute to climate change (source).
Our pick: Justin Kanew
Justin supports some great things in the environmental-sphere. Firstly, he’s all about renewable energy. He supports a fully-renewable energy-driven country by 2050 and understands the initial investments, but he reminds Americans that making this transition will make running the electric grid cheaper in the long run. (Not to mention all those good environmental benefits.) Justin also supports carbon taxes (or carbon fee & dividend policies) in order to reduce pollution. Lastly, he isn’t too happy about the Paris Climate Agreement withdrawal.
Other District 7 Candidates:
Well, District 8, none of your candidates really discuss environmental issues or sustainability in their platforms. We recommend looking at other important issues before casting your vote.
- John Boatner Jr. (D)
- Erika Stotts Pearson (D)
- David Kustoff (R) – Incumbent – Supports an “all of the above” approach to energy, including the use of fossil fuels and renewable energy.
- George Flinn Jr. (R)
- Colleen Owens (R)
- James Hart (Independent)
Our pick: Steve Cohen
- Incumbent since 2007
- Summary: A real sustainable guy
We have lots to cover for Steve (lots of good and green things!) First, he’s shown support for developing renewable energy, decreasing pollution, and saving the bees. Let’s look at how he’s doing that.
In Congress, Steve suggested an amendment to a bill (H.R. 2028) that expands funding to the Energy’s SuperTruck II program, which aims to improve efficiency in Class 8 long-haul and regional-haul trucks. This is good news, considering how much of our country’s goods are hauled across the country in huge trucks emitting lots of gas. Any increase in energy efficiency is a good one.
One bill of his that we’re particularly excited about, is The 10 Million Solar Roofs Act. This plan invests a money into expanding the solar energy in our country by providing loans, rebates, and other incentives to businesses and individuals for solar panel installation. This would significantly increase the use of clean, solar energy and reduce pollution related to fossil fuel energy.
Another bill with Steve’s stamp of support includes The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. This bill promotes energy efficiency, fuel conservation programs, and “Smart Growth” development. The act encourages this through a number of investments, namely tax credit expansions for residents, tax credits for hybrid cars, and clean energy bonds for smaller governments.
Additionally, Steve has cosponsored other bills that promote clean energy with tax credits and grants, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and works toward energy independence. Steve pushes for clean energy to protect the environment and public health. He reflects on these concerns when discussing the Gulf Oil Spill, and warns that drilling is never a low-risk situation. The switch to clean energy permanently cuts out these risks.
Lastly, Steve cosponsors the Saving America’s Pollinators Act. This act recognizes the importance honey bees (and other pollinators) have in our ecosystems and the environment. The bill would require the EPA to prevent the death of bees by restricting specific insecticides that are toxic to bees. (We’re big fans of this bill.)