Opinions across Tennessee for July 23, 2015

Obama sends Iran deal to UN prematurely

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, denounced the Obama administration’s decision to endorse the Iran nuclear deal at the United Nations (UN) Security Council before a vote in Congress.

“The administration’s decision … is contrary to the spirit of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, which was supported by overwhelming majorities of the House and Senate and signed by the president,” Corker said. “It is inappropriate to commit the United States to meet certain international obligations without even knowing if Congress and the American people approve or disapprove of the Iran agreement. There is bipartisan skepticism about whether this deal can prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and bipartisan concern over allowing the leading exporter of terrorism access to well over $100 billion in cash. During the review period, members on both sides of the aisle will evaluate the agreement carefully, press the administration for answers and then vote their conscience.”

Muslim groups decry murders in Chattanooga

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Muslims in Memphis along with Muslim organizations across the state of Tennessee unequivocally denounce the heinous attack in Chattanooga, in which four U.S. Marines were murdered, and at least three others including one Chattanooga police officer were injured. [Editor’s note: This letter dates from July 17. A fifth service memb er wounded in the attacks has since died.]

We wholeheartedly condemn the horrific actions of the shooter who claimed the lives of the military personnel. These violent acts are unjustifiable and are a gross violation of the spirit of Ramadan, a month of charity, mercy and forgiveness. We offer our sincerest condolences, support and prayers to the families of the victims.”

The Tennessee Muslim says, “Terrorists seek to divide our society and we pray that all Americans, will stand together united against their wanton violence and hatred.”

For more information, visit www.muslimainmemphis.org.

Wilderness Act to protect state’s pristine nature

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) released the following statement after the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry held a hearing on July 16 on the Tennessee Wilderness Act—legislation that would designate nearly 20,000 acres of the Cherokee National Forest as wilderness area:

“I grew up hiking the mountains of East Tennessee, and conserving what are some of the wildest, most pristine and beautiful areas in our state gives future generations of Tennesseans the same sort of opportunity,” Alexander said. “The Tennessee Wilderness Act would help protect our natural heritage and give the millions of people who visit Tennessee each year an additional reason to come and enjoy our great outdoors. I want to thank Chairman Roberts for holding today’s hearing.”

The Senate Agriculture Committee is chaired by Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kansas).

The Tennessee Wilderness Act would designate nearly 20,000 acres of the Cherokee National Forest as wilderness area. Alexander introduced legislation earlier this year with Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) that would create one new wilderness area, and expand the boundaries of five existing wilderness areas, within the Cherokee National Forest. Designation as a wilderness area is the highest level of conservation protection to preserve federal land. Alexander and Corker introduced this legislation in the last three Congresses. In the last Congress, the legislation was approved both by the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee and the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry Committee, but was not considered on the Senate floor. If the legislation were to be approved by the Agriculture Committee this year, it would then be sent to the full Senate for approval.

Creating and expanding these wilderness areas would have no effect on privately owned land, and these lands have been managed as wilderness areas since 2004. The legislation would preserve access to federally owned land that has already been made part of existing Wilderness Study Areas by the U.S. Forest Service and will not increase costs for taxpayers.

The Tennessee Wilderness Act would:

  • Create the 9,038-acre Upper Bald River Wilderness (Monroe County)
  • Add 348 acres to the Big Frog Wilderness (Polk County)
  • Add 966 acres to the Little Frog Wilderness (Polk County)
  • Add 2,922 acres to the Sampson Mountain Wilderness (Washington and Unicoi County)
  • Add 4,446 acres to the Big Laurel Branch Wilderness (Carter and Johnson County)
  • Add 1,836 acres to the Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness (Monroe County)

Alexander is a member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. He is also chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy & Water Development.