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Water

LA Times coverage of GA drought
September 17, 2012

Georgia's failure to recognize the drought that has dried up creeks, rivers, and wells this year has yet to be addressed head-on by Governor Deal, according to a report in the LA Times.

A stunning statement from Deal's spokesman Brian Robinson included this, "We don't have wide-scale water shortages at this juncture."

That approach to conservation of water resources is also reflected in commetns from Environmental Protection Division staffer Napoleon Caldwell, who said "A gallon of water saved in the metro Atlanta area would fail to ensure that there would be adequate water for human consumption in southern parts of the state."

Is the State of Georgia now saying we shouldn't even try to save water?

The article describes a pro-business and anti-water conservation slant to decision making. Gil Rogers, an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, said this about the drought in Georgia, "It's very odd that we are into the second year of a historic drought, and we're still not hearing about it."

Gordon Rogers, Flint Riverkeeper Executive Director (no relation to Gil rogers) told the this, "Georgia is still feeling its way with water planning — or non-planning — and the response to the drought is a symptom of it."

Isakson lets taxpayers down
September 7, 2012

After raising hopes that he would intervene in the ongoing pollution problems in the Ogeechee River, the Savannah Morning News reports that Senator Johnny Isakson's office has dropped this study due to the fact that the issue is “in the adjudicative process.”

According to the Effingham Herald Isakson wasn't even aware of the fish kill in 2011 and subsequent harm to citizens and wildlife until last month.

State won't issue permits to farmers
July 31, 2012

The Environmental Protection Division in Georgia has announced that due to the exceptional drought conditions in the Southwestern areas of the state, no more agricultural water withdrawal permits will be issued.Portions of the Flint and Chattahoochee are the impacted river basins.

When water and energy collide
July 31, 2012

As the Southeast, and Georgia in particular, suffer through extreme drought conditions, new studies demonstrate the high demands placed on water by current coal and nuclear energy production.

Data show that in the early part of May, before the drought became worse, Plant Washington would have already been reliant on Plant B for the 16 milion gallons of water per day the plant would require. Read more here.

Victory in court, a new legal battle for Clean Water Act enforcement, and investigations into flame retardants
July 25, 2012

The Savannah Morning News features an editorial on Judge Turner's decision granting standing to the Ogeechee Riverkeeper and local citizens concerning legal action against King America Finishing. The editorial includes,

"The EPD should have allowed an opportunity for the public to comment before it acted. Instead, it wrongly cut a deal behind closed doors in Atlanta with King America last September. It allowed the company to pay $1 million for yet-unspecified projects on the river, rather than face stiffer penalties that could have gone higher than $90 million.

Let’s hope state Administrative Law Judge Lois Oakley, who’s based in Atlanta, takes Judge Turner’s decision to heart. This case apparently will go back to her courtroom for a second time.

In March, she ruled in favor of the EPD and King America, which wanted the Ogeechee Riverkeeper tossed out. Thanks to Judge Turner, she now has an opportunity to give Georgians what they’re entitled to, which is a full airing of the facts."

The Riverkeeper, local citizens, attorneys at GreenLaw and Don Stack and Associates aren't resting on this victory. 

Riverkeeper files under Clean Water Act

Late Monday afternoon the Ogeechee Riverkeeper filed suit against King America Finishing under the Clean Water Act. Points of violation brought in the suit include discharge of colored effluent, ammonia and formaldehyde discharge, and pH exceedances.


The Savannah paper quotes Riverkeeper Dianna Wedincamp saying, "King America had over a year to address serious pollution violations following the 
state’s largest fish kill, but they didn't. The government had years to stop the pollution, and they didn’t. We are asking the courts to do what the environmental law enforcers have failed to do, to stop the pollution of the Ogeechee River from King America Finishing.” 

The paper states that King American Finishing, a Chicago-based company, continued to dump into the river while a permit was being drafted, and in fact operated without a permit since 2006 in regards to the discharges which prompted this suit.

The Chicago Tribune has recently written about flame retardant chemicals. The Environmental Protection Agency, Consumer Product Safety Commission, and a Senate subcommittee are all investigating the chemicals, their effectiveness, and the impact they have on health.

Judge thinks The Force is on the side of the Riverkeeper
July 24, 2012

Bulloch County Superior Court Judge John R. Turner ruled that the citizens who use the Ogeechee River for boating, fishing, swimming, and enjoying the wildlife, along with the Riverkeeper, do have standing for legal action. He has reversed Administrative Judge Lois Oakley's ruling that these groups have no standing to take legal action against the EPD or King America Finishing for the largest fish kill in the state's history.

The judge cited various critical points of law in reaching his decision, but perhaps his citation of a philosopher from a 'long time ago in a galaxy far away" best describes the actions, or inactions, of the state's Environmental Protection Division, "It is the a priori finding of this court that a harm once done, which is unaffected by an order of the EPD, continues to be a demonstrative harm. Although it appears that the EPD was attempting to remedy the alleged harm, its actions were done without the opportunity of public notice and comment. The perfunctory solution of the EPD to such a significant problem causes the Court to recall the words of a pop culture philosopher: ‘Do or do not. There is no try.” 

The Savannah Morning News has more coverage here. 

Water problems shut down power plants
June 6, 2012

A new report released by Nature Climate Change reveals that power plants, especially in the Southeast, have had trouble operating during extreme heat. Discharging waste water isn't permited if river temperatures are too high, resulting in plant shut downs.

As well, "Vulnerablity of US and European Electrcity Supply to Climate Change" shows that flow river flow and water levels also results in "heat" pollution, which impacts the fish and wildlife living downstream from a dumping pipe.

Georgia tops lists of water stressed states in new report
November 16, 2011

The Union of Concerned Scientists were in Atlanta to release a new report focusing on the amount of water used to create electricity in our country. Plant Washington is listed on page 28 when the already stressed Upper Oconee is discussed as one of the 25 most stressed rivers in the country.

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Mercury

The problem in our local river 

Currently the Ogeechee River, and in fact most south Georgia streams, have high enough levels of mercury in the fish to cause birth defects and other problems for developing babies and young children.
Cleaning up the sources of mercury pollution will happen in the long-term, but there are some things you can do in the short term to protect your family.

Here are some simple solutions:

1.Reduce Your Risk

  • Limit Your Exposure to Contaminated Fish and Seafood:  Learn how to make safer choices for you and your family.
  • Choose smaller fish and eat smaller portions.  Mercury builds up in larger, older fish.  In general, eating smaller fish will help you reduce your mercury levels.
  • Vary the type of fish you eat.  Choosing different types of fish from different locations will help you reduce your risk.

2. Stay Informed

3.  Take Action

Find Out How to Protect Your Family

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Air

Greenhouse Gas Rule complicates Plant Washington
April 13,2012

Because P4G does not have a final construction permit for the proposed coal plant they continue to promote as viable, the developer now has to consider a strong carbon pollution requirement which was announced today. The Environmental Protection Agency announced a Greenhouse Gas (GHG) rule which shortens the time P4G has to begin plant construction, once the small group of four EMCs receives a finial construction permit.

P4G will have to commence construction within a year. Commence construction will require much more than simply moving some dirt around at the plant site. As we review this announcement more information will be posted here.

GA Power retiring two coal units 
March 23, 2012 

The Public Service Commission (PSC) approved a request from GA Power to retire two coal fired units at Plant Branch, located on Lake Sinclair just inside Putnam County.

The retired units wild result in cleaner air and water for the area as less mercury and other toxins will be emitted.

The PSC also approved three contracts for GA Power to purchase electricity from natural gas powered facilities in 2015. The contracts will provide GA Power with sufficient surplus to meet needs during times of peak demand. Read more here.

Georgia claims #1 and #2 on national list of greenhouse gas emitters
January 11, 2012

Plant Scherer in Juliette holds the top spot in the nation for greenhouse gas emissions according to a list just released by the EPA. The second spot is claimed by Plant Bowen, about 50 miles northwest of Atlanta. Both plants, and the Plant Miller in Alabama, ranked number three in the country, are owned by the Southern Company. 

The rankings were released less than a month after the EPA signed new regulations on mercury and other toxic emissions from coal plants. These emissions are linked to birth defects, reduced cognitive ability in children, asthma, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Read the Atlanta Journal Constitution's coverage. 

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