Interesting development yesterday. TVA, the defendant in the case, filed a “Confession of Judgment in Plaintiffs’ Favor” 2017-03-01 Doc. 377 Confession of Judgment in Plaintiffs’ Favor and a “Motion for Judgment in Plaintiffs’ Favor.” 2017-03-01 Doc. 378 Motion for Judgment in Plaintiffs’ Favor. They also filed a supporting brief. 2017-03-01 Doc. 379 Brief in Support of TVA’s Motion for Judgment in Plaintiffs’ Favor. A little unusual to ask for judgment to be entered in favor of the opposing party. It was an official surrender. It is what TVA should have done five years ago, at the beginning of the case. We arrive at this point after two appeals to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati. TVA lost both appeals. So yesterday, TVA filed papers consenting to the entry of a judgment enjoining itself from further implementing the 15-foot rule until it publishes an appropriate environmental impact statement.

Although it looks like a complete surrender, there is a possible catch. The other side of the coin for ending the 15-foot rule is that TVA must revert to its prior practices, that is, the practices that it followed prior to the 15-foot rule. Those practices included leaving the buffer zones, and allowing landowners to trim their own trees. After assuring the Court at an earlier stage of the litigation (an assurance that continues to this day), that it had suspended the 15-foot rule, and reverted to its prior practices, TVA proceeded to wipe out the buffer zones at Land Between the Lakes from one end to the other, destroying vast numbers of 40-100-year-old trees that had been left under TVA’s prior practices. It also wiped out Billy Anderson’s orchard in Paducah, Kentucky, which he had tended under the wires for more than 30 years under TVA’s prior practices, always keeping his fruit and nut trees pruned to no more than 17 feet tall. These appear to be violations of TVA’s assurance to the Court that it had suspended the 15-foot rule and reverted to its prior practices. So the concern with TVA’s confession of judgment is that, having consented to a judgment enjoining itself from further implementing the 15-foot rule, it might simply continue eliminating the buffer zones like it did at Land Between the Lakes and Tellico Dam, and destroying the trees of people like Mr. Anderson, just as it has done for the last five years.

If you have have information that TVA is continuing to destroy the buffer zones or other trees that it allowed under its prior practices you are invited to post your information or experience at [TVA Trees@tvatrees]