The first meeting of the Regional Resource Stewardship Council (Council) was in Chattanooga, Tennessee, (Marriott Hotel) on March 17, 2000, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. EST. Nineteen of the twenty Council members were present. Prior to the meeting call-to-order, TVA Chairman Craven Crowell and TVA Director Skila Harris welcomed the Council, and TVA Executive Vice President and Designated Federal Officer to the Council, Kate Jackson, made introductory remarks. Council Chair Mayor Eddie Smith convened the meeting and asked Council members to make statements of expectation for the Councils work. The Council then participated in an education group activity designed to examine the impacts of changing the balance of public benefits provided by the Tennessee River system. After lunch, the Council received a briefing from TVAs Office of the General Counsel about the Federal Advisory Committee Act and the Council Charter. The Council discussed the Charter, reviewed and agreed to adopt ground rules for Council business, discussed topics to be addressed by the Council and the schedule of future Council meetings. The Council also heard from 6 members of the public and saw a presentation about the Councils web site. Open discussion among the Council members concluded the day.TVA Opening Remarks
In TVA Chairman Craven Crowells remarks, he acknowledged the "blue ribbon" nature of the panel and the expertise and experience the members bring to the endeavor. He noted that TVA manages resources for the public interest and that an optimum balance for those diverse interests is sought. "Well listen closely" to the Councils advice, he said. The Chairman also thanked the Governors, Congress, and the Council members for their support and interest in forming the Council and concluded that TVA needs the Councils vision, ideas, and leadership.
Director Skila Harris thanked the members for agreeing to serve on the Council and made a commitment to listen and take their advice. She acknowledged the "impressive credentials" and "diverse interests" of the group and the public that TVA serves. With her previous experience as Executive Director of a similar advisory group, she expressed tremendous optimism and expects the group to challenge conventional wisdom and to innovate in helping to solve the dilemma of balance among the competing interests served by the river system. She concluded by acknowledging the enormous personal commitment, sacrifice of time, and investment of energy that being on the Council would entail and declared that the "only way we can repay you is by listening."
TVAs Executive Vice President of River System Operations & Environment, Kate Jackson, is the Designated Federal Officer for the Regional Resource Stewardship Council. She explained her role and responsibility for getting the Councils recommendations to upper management, for providing staff support, for bringing issues to the Council, and for working with the Chair to determine meeting agendas and issues for discussion / deliberation.
Dr. Jackson is the official TVA representative responsible to the Council and she, or her alternate, must be present for the group to meet. Recommendations from the Council are to be made by consensus if at all possible. The Council sends TVA a strong signal to follow its recommendation when it comes to consensus. Voting causes disenfranchisement and is a disincentive for those in the minority. She committed to respond to every recommendation.
Dr. Jackson introduced the Chair of the Council, Mayor Eddie Smith, and noted his experience in bringing people together to consensus on difficult issues. Also present at the table were the Council process consultant, Jim Creighton, and the Court Reporter, Kim Nixon.Call to Order, Council Members Introductions / Expectations for Accomplishments
Council Chair Mayor Eddie Smith called the first meeting to order by welcoming the members and expressing his gratitude for their service to the issues that lay ahead. Mayor Smith asked Council members to introduce themselves and share their expectations by answering the question, "It is now the year 2002 and you are looking back on the success of the Council - What were the accomplishments of the Council that made this a successful experience?"
Mayor Smith, from Holly Springs, Mississippi, shared his expectation that the betterment of the region would result from the Councils work over the next two years.
Stephen Smith, Executive Director of the Tennessee Valley Energy Reform Coalition, from Knoxville, Tennessee, expects the Council to help reconnect TVA to its original mission - "hardwire that back into the agency" - and polish it and update it for the 21st Century. Protecting the watershed and the airshed and reducing TVAs environmental footprint ought to be the outcomes of the Councils work.
Jim Sutphin, from Rose Hill, Virginia, noted that communities are dependent on TVAs investments. "Where there is no vision, the people perish."
Dr. Paul Teague, from Parsons, Tennessee, lived in Memphis 25 years and sees himself as a customer-activist. He said communications is a central issue and that TVAs relationship with the Valley communities is like a marriage. He challenged TVA to be less bureaucratic and more customer oriented.
Jimmy Barnett, from Sheffield, Alabama, said he is a river rat, not just a distributor. His utility is also a water user and they put it back cleaner than what they get out of the Tennessee River. He would like to see water at the intake cleaner and an upstream water source study performed. Economic development is also important to him; "we want jobs for people to prosper." Other expectations include getting information from other parts of the country about what is being spent on resource stewardship activities, getting money from Congress for public responsibilities, and to keep in mind the costs of decisions.
Lee Baker, from Newport, Tennessee, has interests of water, wastewater, and electricity. He wants to fully engage this Council in the issues and work before it.
Senator Roger Bedford, from Russellville, Alabama, stated that with the quality of the membership that he was confident that the Council would not be a yes group. He noted TVAs changing roles in deregulation, economic development, flood control, hunting, fishing, and erosion control. Preserving the quality of life and providing a long-term framework were expectations, keeping in mind TVAs original mission.
Ann Coulter, from Chattanooga, Tennessee, brings a land use perspective and is aware of the rich history personally. Her mother saw FDR dedicate one of TVAs first facilities. Chattanooga learned some hard lessons with heavy industry and coming to terms with the Tennessee River and environmental issues of clean air, a clean river, jobs, and the quality of life. TVA is uniquely positioned as a regional unifier.
Phil Comer, from Dandridge, Tennessee, represents 1.5 million people in East Tennessee who are interested in or affected by tributary lake levels. His hopes for the future include: (1) March 2001 will see the end of the moratorium on reservoir level changes and the lake level task force begun in mid-1998 will hold up the summer pool levels up to October 1. (2) The Sierra Club votes TVA as the best utility for cleaning up air pollution. (3) Electricity rates are steady and debt is reduced even more than planned. (4) U. S. Congress reinstated appropriations to TVA of $100 million per year. (5) President Bush persuades Chairman Crowell to stay at TVA another 9 years.
Bill Forsyth, from Murphy, North Carolina, appreciates the cost of power and economic development activities. His charge from the Governor is to keep lake levels up.
Mayor Thomas Griffith, from Amory, Mississippi, has been Mayor of Amory since 1977. They are a distributor of TVA power and he is pro-TVA. Pre-TVA, this region desperately needed help and they were fortunate to get it. He asked that the Council be aware of the importance of resources, walk a tight line with economic development, and enjoy our natural resources. He stated that weve a great heritage and a great track record. "Do the right thing" in offering suggestions to make it a better place. He is honored to serve.
Austin Carroll, from Hopkinsville, Kentucky, is interested not only in power but also in clean water and sustainable growth. He was with TVA 11 years and he has been with Hopkinsville Electric System 14 years. He works with the LBL Association, he was a small farm winner of the State Wildlife Habitat Award, and he had giardia in his water. Two years from now, he expects that the Councils recommendations have been accepted by the Board, the highest quality of life is being achieved with progress of both man and nature, and that there is a plan to allocate funding among stakeholder interests.
Al Mann, from Benton, Kentucky, noted that the Act was passed in 1933 and what the primary goals were. TVA has succeeded in many ways with its mission and activities, especially for low cost reliable power. His expectation is that the Council will help TVA with effective solutions in the areas of recreation, water quality, water levels, and shoreline management.
Julie Hardin, from Knoxville Tennessee, introduced the Foothills Land Conservancy to the group and stated that her expectation beyond 2002 is that the Council return TVA to its stewardship mission. With the Great Smoky Mountains being the worlds greatest biosphere and the most polluted of the national parks, we must return TVA to the citizens and clients it serves.
Miles Mennell, from Bristol and Nashville, Tennessee, represents the local governments in the Tennessee Valley and noted what an important partner TVA is. She would like to develop a consensus with the Council members to assist in dealing with the very important issues of deregulation, conservation, environment, what the Valley will look like in the future. She said it is a great pleasure to serve and have a say.
Herman Morris, from Memphis, Tennessee, represents one of the largest utilities in the country and the largest in the TVA system. He wants to keep the main thing the main thing and that will be hard because it is different for everyone in the room. What he expects is a better appreciation of TVA, a better utilization of the asset, better benefits to the community, keeping in mind that the world has changed and will continue to change significantly.
W. C. Nelson, from Blairsville, Georgia, noted the three tributary lakes in North Georgia and is concerned about keeping lake levels up. He is also concerned with economic development, water quality, and the erosion that is occurring.
Elaine Patterson, from Chattanooga, Tennessee, is with Olin Corporation which is a direct-served industry and a big shipper on the Tennessee River. She is also on the Board of the Tennessee River Valley Association, which represents navigation interests and economic issues. She would like the Council to come out with a balance to support all systems in the river. Of special concern is low-cost, reliable power, navigation, and the right government support to continue these important services.
Bruce Shupp, from Montgomery, Alabama, represents 600,000 Bass Anglers and Sportsmens Society members and says the Tennessee River system is one of the most important bass fishing resources in the world. He hopes that an atmosphere of trust and effectiveness comes from this Council and that it results in better communication with stakeholders. The Council can broaden its work by bringing in more stakeholders through work on subcommittees. It is a scary idea to take on redeveloping the Valley but maybe that is what will result.Interactive Small Group Policy Discussion
The Council was divided into four groups to explore river system outputs using an interactive simulation exercise. Each group was asked to evaluate what would happen to river operations if TVA were to initiate a major hypothetical policy shift. A TVA staff person was assigned to each group to answer questions if needed. The exercise lasted about 2 hours and a spokesperson from each small group presented high points of the discussion to the other members of the Council.
Group 1 included Mennell, Griffith, Bedford, Shupp, and Sutphin and they were asked to describe what would happen if TVA were to optimize reservoir levels for recreation, tourism, and economic development around the reservoirs. Senator Bedford noted difficulties with the assignment, that although those three things are related and important to each other, there is far more involved. They did get the idea that the TVA operations and Tennessee River system is very complex, which was probably one objective of the exercise, but concluded that one size does not fit all. They thought it might be helpful to treat the system as separate ecosystems. So they opted not to do the exercise per se, but to take a more practical approach. They wanted the best up to date data, to develop a working model, build public opinion, and develop a plan that the public could get behind and that Congress could support, too. The Senator noted that this Council is like a microcosm of Congress.
Group 2 included S. Smith, Patterson, Baker, Hardin, and Forsyth and they were asked to describe what would happen to river operations if TVA were to generate the greatest possible amount of hydropower from the system. Ms. Patterson reported that the first decision they made was to maximize the hydro generation for the highest value, not just maximize production. When the price hits some threshold, then all hydro plants will run. Turbines would be added to the system and pump-back systems would be installed in all reservoirs. The impacts are that flooding would increase, land uses along reservoirs would be more limited with the greater fluctuation and diminished aesthetics, economic development would be adversely impacted because industries could not rely on transportation. Navigation would be nonexistent. At first the group thought the power system would be improved under this scenario; however, cooling water for fossil and nuclear plants might not be available. This scenario could have improvement benefits for air quality. Recreation impacts are mixed with a decrease in anglers and fishing, but potentially more walkers, kayakers, and wildlife viewers. Water quality would be adversely affected.
Group 3 included Mayor Smith, Mann, Comer, Barnett, and Nelson and they were asked to describe what would happen to river operations if TVA were to provide optimal water quality for aquatic life. Mr. Barnetts report for the group indicated that if they maximized this benefit that human use would be restricted along the river, commercial and industrial uses along the river would be restricted, states would be pressured to enforce agricultural laws on animal waste treatment, and the use of rivers and reservoirs would be restricted for recreation as well. There would be no new development, no selling of property, and slow economic development. Another characteristic if the river were managed this way, safety would be improved. Barge traffic would have it easier. However, power demand would be reduced, flexibility of the system to produce hydropower would be reduced. Overall, recreation, tourism, and economic development would be reduced.
Group 4 included Coulter, Morris, Carroll, and Teague and they were asked to describe what would happen to river operations if TVA were to maximize the amount of navigation flowage that can be obtained from the system. Ms. Coulter said that the group spent some time defining that as moving more barges and products up and down the system, basically keeping more water in the main channel year round. That felt constrained and was frustrating because it is a much bigger system and the CD ROM offered the one screen that was too simplistic. A deeper, wider channel would help but not if the locks are still a limiting factor. More water moving all year round means more flooding potential and they thought that was the most negative impact. Land use would be negatively impacted the group thought, disagreeing with the computer model. Wildlife is probably helped. Power system impacts might be less water through the turbines when needed and reduced cooling waters, although the group did not completely understand the latter. There might be more water in the channel for some recreation uses. Moving that much water would probably improve water quality.FACA Overview
Barry Walton, from the TVA General Counsels office, then gave the group an overview of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) which governs the creation and operation of advisory groups to federal agencies. He referenced the FACA web site (http://policyworks.gov/FACA_Townhall) for those who want more information. The 1972 FACA was passed to combat secrecy and wastefulness and to ensure balance in the advice being sought from public and private groups for federal agencies.
Meetings are usually open to the public but can be closed by the head of the agency by exception. The charter of the Regional Resource Stewardship Council was filed with the Congressional committees that have oversight of TVAs operations. The minutes and actions of the Council will be made available to the public.
A committee is established only when the agency feels it is absolutely essential and the Office of Management and Budget and the General Services Administration approve its formation. The Council is over when the work of the Council is done. If the work is not finished in 2 years, the agency re-justifies the request when it asks for renewal of the charter. Budgets are filed and actual expenses reported.
To ensure balance and representation of points of view, the selection process was written into the charter.
Under FACA, the Designated Federal Officer (DFO) calls the meetings, must be present for a meeting to be held, and must approve the agenda. The DFO may adjourn the meeting if she decides the agency interests are not being served.
The Charter lays out the responsibilities of the group. The emphasis is on TVAs stewardship activities affecting the rivers and the lands around the rivers, including the funding for these activities. Even though TVAs stewardship activities were previously paid with appropriations, they are now paid with dollars earned from the sale of power, so everything has become interrelated. Deregulation, economic development, and power contracts with distributors were intentionally not included in the Charter.
Mayor Smith stated that the group is purely advisory and it must reach consensus in order to make sure their efforts are not wasted.
Mr. Comer pointed out and Mr. Walton reiterated that the Council members were not being paid, but were volunteering their efforts. Travel costs are being reimbursed at the federal government rate.
Dr. Teague asked for the problems of TVA to be aired so that the Council could deliberate on the most useful topics and help with communications on those issues.
Kate Jackson noted that TVA has had historical problems with trying to represent each interest to the others. She asked the Council to represent their interests to each other, to help TVA have a clear picture of what the balances and tradeoffs need to be, how they have changed over time, and to help us think differently about how we operate the system to meet those needs.
More discussion among Carroll, Jackson, Smith, and Mayor Smith ensued with the conclusion that the Council needs to get to a common level of understanding by asking for and engaging in some learning activities with a discussion first of the issues on the table. Morris pointed out that the issues on the table have to include power and funding. Coulter and S. Smith spoke out that air issues must be addressed. Mayor Smith noted that issues would be discussed more in the afternoon and that most members had filled out a questionnaire about the priority topics to address.
Smith asked about subcommittees and Walton differentiated between work groups, which could go do research and develop a draft of recommendations, and formal subcommittees, which TVA would have to approve along with the Council, although the subcommittee would provide advice to the Council itself. The Council can recommend anyone to a subcommittee, but Walton encouraged the group not to relegate the tough decisions and issues to subcommittees.
Shupp gave an example of effective use of subcommittees by another advisory group on which he had served. The Sports Fishing Council expanded their outreach and their results by involving more people on subcommittees; he gave several examples of policies, practices and significant funding that came about because of their efforts. Council Operations
After lunch, the group discussed Council operation ground rules introduced by the process consultant, Jim Creighton. (Please see the Regional Council Procedures and Guidelines document.) As part of this discussion, talk returned to the issues raised before lunch. Coulter, Hardin, and S. Smith wanted to add air quality to the list of issues the Council would address. Carroll and Griffith did not. Carroll noted that air is not just a regional but a national air policy issue. Teague pointed out that the plate is already loaded. Smith noted that how the resource is impacted by air pollution is a primary issue. It was resolved by agreement that stewardship would include the research on ecosystem impacts of emissions as an issue, but not the emissions per se. Shupp, Carroll, and Baker wanted equity of funding listed as a primary issue. Jackson and Mayor Smith also participated in the discussion.
There was no discussion about the ground rule that describes the obligation of TVA and the Council to develop recommendations.
The group, led by Hardin, Shupp, and Creighton, discussed developing consensus - mainly questions about consensus building in and out of the group and about trying to use it for business.
The role of the Chair and meeting and process planning were covered without much discussion. The Chair will lead meetings, represent the Council in planning agendas and process decisions, work with TVA to appoint subcommittees and coordinate work, and serve as spokesperson and representative for Council when addressing and making recommendations to TVA management, the media or the public. All members may help plan the agendas.
The DFO role and the process consultants role also received little discussion. Mann thought it was a good idea to have Creighton present at the meetings and Morris asked for clarification on the DFOs representation of and to TVA management.
Meetings are to be at least twice a year and may be as often as monthly at first. Barnett and Griffith requested that the Council meet only as needed, and less frequently than monthly.
Several members discussed meeting attendance. No official surrogates or substitutes may attend for the Council members and there will be no censure for nonattendance; however, a member may send someone to listen for him / her if they can not come. It was noted that the members are serving voluntarily for no pay and they obviously care enough to be there.
The ground rules were modified for participation of observers. The Chair may establish reasonable time limits for speakers. The Council will keep the publics needs in mind and offer comment periods before and after decisions on a per-issue basis if needed.
The Council also asked for a modification of the section on standing subcommittee and informal work groups. Two lines are to be added at the end: The Council may invite nonmembers to participate. TVA will support the Councils formation of subcommittees and work groups with staff assistance.
Communication with the media was discussed but not changed. Members may represent their own views but not the Councils. Although the Chair is expected to consult with members on what to say to the media, he is free to share what was discussed and decided at the meetings.
Remaining procedure and guideline topics drew little discussion. Confidentiality of materials and travel expenses stand as written. Council members agreed to review and accept minutes in advance of the next meeting rather than using meeting time to do so. The Council accepted the mutual respect standards.
TVA established a web site for the Council. It is found at www.TVA.gov and offers a way for stakeholders to communicate with Council members. It is recommended that members answer e-mails from constituents within two weeks. Topics to be Addressed by the Council
Creighton addressed the question of which topics will be addressed by the Council and in what order. He pointed out that there was an immediate topic, TVAs performance indicators for the Government Performance Results Act, that was not directly in the area of Council interests, but might be something the Council would want to look at. Though it might not be a Council priority, if the Council wanted to discuss it, the discussion needed to take place right away, before TVA filed its report to the Office of Management and Budget. Council members concluded they needed to see some information about GPRA in order to decide whether to discuss it. They asked for that information to be provided before the next meeting.
Creighton then reviewed the results of the pre-meeting questionnaire. He said that the questionnaire was sent out with the hope that it would help the Council save time in reaching conclusions about what to address first. It should not be a binding conclusion because 8 members did not respond and their scores could affect the outcome. Also, some topics didnt make the list, such as funding of stewardship activities, and that had emerged as a significant issue.
Also, for the next meeting, the group requested presentations on river and on public lands management as the large themes, working in the more specific topics from the questionnaire as appropriate, including funding and benchmarking.
The next meeting is May 25 in Huntsville. Public Comments
Please refer to the transcript beginning page 201 for complete comments.
Glen Bibbins, from Land Owners and Users of Douglas (LOUD), asked for a study of holding lake levels up longer in support of recommendations made by GAO. He charged the Council to do 5 things: (1) educate TVA on concerns and needs of stakeholders, (2) allow TVA to explain operation of integrated system, (3) establish a realistic time frame to re-examine impacts of policy changes on lake levels, (4) keep the public informed of TVAs activities, and (5) increase the overall credibility of the evaluation process.
David Monteith, from the Swain County, North Carolina, Board of Commissioners and the Fontana Lake Users Association, cited several studies of the benefits of keeping lake levels up. One study concludes that if lakes were held up longer, it would result in 1500 jobs, $65,000,000 in recreational spending, and $41,000,000 in business spending in 16 counties. This is particularly important in Swain County because they lost 46% of the taxable land base and jobs when Fontana was built and theyve never recovered. Theyre "donating water resources" and getting none of the other benefits of the system.
Bill Dyer, from Paducah, Kentucky, owns a tow boat company that handles 25% of the barges on the Tennessee River. He exhorted the group to add a person knowledgeable about the towing business. He would like to see 18 more inches on winter pool for navigation, no dams with zero discharges, and consideration for the industrys contribution to the economy. Navigation is using large boats now, and this results in very efficient transportation; water navigation moves a ton of cargo 3 miles to make a penny. He also noted that Chickamauga Lock needs some consideration and immediate attention to get it replaced.
Reece Nash, from Cookeville, Tennessee, is owner of Cookeville Boat Dock on Center Hill Lake (in the Cumberland River System) and president of the Tennessee Marina Association whose membership have businesses in the Tennessee River watershed. He offered assistance, information, and support from the marina operators. He applauded the group for taking on this time-consuming task and indicated that keeping the lake levels up longer in the year was his groups mission.
Ronnie Pritchard, from Ingram Barge Company and Ingram Materials Company, claimed that the Council did not include representatives from barge companies and heavy industry that depend on the river. He remarked that Boeing and TriCo Steel and other industries that depend on barge companies depend on TVA, too. Ingram is the third largest carrier on the inland waterway system and TVA is their largest customer. Mr. Pritchard offered to take the Council on a barge or a towboat and lock through one of the dams.
James Jardine, from North Shores subdivision on Norris Lake in Union County, Tennessee, would like to delay drawdown of the lake from August 1 to October 1. He noted that TVA used to drawdown water starting June 1. Now TVA keeps the water levels up later. He believes that TVA could operate with the water levels up even later in the year. He suggested that having water in the reservoir was like having money in the bank. He recommended that TVA should keep the money in the bank a little while longer. Concluding Remarks from Council Members
Forsyth noted that all of the public commenters talked about lake levels.
Hardin asked for discussion on the points about lack of shipper representation. It was pointed out that Patterson represents heavy industry which is also a big shipper and she is on the TRVA Board. Barnett is also on the TRVA Board.
Hardin suggested and S. Smith agreed that the commenters should be acknowledged with a follow-up letter.
The Council as a whole agreed they wanted more interaction with the public and that the Council would engage the public commenters more in dialogue and discussion after public comments rather than moving on to other topics. Sutphin suggested allowing all commenters to talk first and figuring out how much time is available for discussion and clarifying questions.
Mennell noted that she would be in touch with Monteith, one of her constituents, and some discussion occurred about efforts along those lines. All of the Council members agreed that the public comments were an important part of the process and the information available to them and they wanted to acknowledge and appreciate the people who came to speak.