Brower Youth Awards

Erica Davis

Knoxville, TN

Advocating for frontline communities in Tennessee

As a Tennessee native, Erica Davis, is keenly aware of the role that oil and gas extraction plays in her home state, as well as the fact rural Tennesseans often benefit little from resource extraction operations within their communities. Working in collaboration with grassroots organizers in Campbell County, TN, Davis has researched, written, and obtained sponsorship for a bill to reform oil and natural gas severance taxes.

In Tennessee, severance taxes are the only legislative means to ensure that part of the wealth associated with oil and gas production remains in-state. Davis’s bill seeks to raise these taxes and change the way the tax revenue is distributed so that all of the revenue returns to the affected communities in the county where extraction occurred. (Impacted communities currently receive only one-third of the revenue). Davis, who’s now pursuing an environmental law degree, lobbied hard to help raise bipartisan support for the bill. Unfortunately, the bill was dropped from the 2015-2016 docket. Davis intends to revive the bill in the next legislative session.