Today is the close of the 6th week of the General Assembly’s 2017 session. The legislators will return next Monday, February 27 (Day 25). Crossover Day—the last day in the session for a bill to pass its original chamber and have a chance to become law—will fall on Day 28 this coming Friday. 16 days remain in the 40-day session. The 2017 legislative session will end on Thursday, March 30. See the calendar here.
Ensuring Safe, Secure Disposal and Storage of Coal Ash Wastes
GWC Priority Issues
Three bills have been introduced to protect Georgians, their properties and their water from potentially harmful impacts of coal ash waste transportation and storage. In the Senate, Sen. William Ligon has introduced SB165. This bill makes producers of coal ash waste dumped in Georgia responsible for pollution, health, and property rights damages caused by the coal ash, even if the producers are from other states.
Rep. Jeff Jones (R-Brunswick) spoke at Capitol Conservation Day and introduced two bills to help protect communities from coal ash pollution.
HB 387 - Requires the closure of unlined coal ash ponds and the testing and treatment of the water before pumping it into lakes, rivers and streams.
HB 388 - Requires municipal solid waste landfills to modify their permits and notify the public before receiving large volumes of coal ash, be sited away from groundwater supplies and wetlands, and monitor groundwater for pollution.
GWC has created resources for you to learn more about this issue.
Georgia Water Coalition supports both HB 387 and HB 388.
Status: Both bills are currently being debated in subcommittee. We want to move these bills out of committee and to the House floor for a vote.
What You Can Do: Sign the petition urging our legislators to protect our water and communities from coal ash. If your legislator is on either the House or Senate Natural Resources Committee, tell them to support the bills.
Contact: Emily Kurilla, Ogeechee Riverkeeper – email@example.com
Buffers for State Waters Delayed
HR 362 and SR 152 establish a Joint Study Committee on Stream Buffers. The House and Senate Natural Resources and Environment Committees are using the Joint Study Committee as a delaying tactic, and to avoid the Erosion and Sedimentation Control Act fix the GWC has been working on for two years. What’s the problem with a study committee? We have studied buffers for decades in Georgia. We know the “Sound Science” will tell us that bigger and wider buffers are necessary for water quality and fish and wildlife. What do we want to see from the study committee? We will not accept a reduction in the current 25’ buffer on all state waters and a 50’ buffer on trout waters, or other buffers designed to protect drinking water supplies. As a practical matter, we support a study committee because hopefully it can resolve one specific thing: how to measure a buffer in the absence of “wrested vegetation.” That must be a driving question before the General Assembly in 2018.
Status: HR 362 and SR 152 have both passed out of their respective Natural Resources and Environment committees.
What You Can Do: Please ask you Representative and Senator to help make sure that qualified environmental professionals with “experience in water resource management” from the GWC community are included as joint study committee members.
Contact: Chris Manganiello, Chattahoochee Riverkeeper – firstname.lastname@example.org
Other Issues the GWC is Tracking
House Bill 271 – Changing the Shore Protection Act to the
Shore Destruction Act
On Thursday, the House Natural Resources and Environment Committee passed an amended version of HB271, which updates the Shore Protection Act. Because of changes made at the subcommittee level, the Georgia Water Coalition is now opposing the passage of this bill.
Currently the method for determining the jurisdictional area is out of date and difficult to understand and enforce. A legislator in Savannah proposed changes to the law that would make it easier to understand and enforce but that did not go far enough to protect some of the most sensitive areas of our coast. Members of the Georgia Water Coalition worked with members of the committee to see improvements to the bill. Unfortunately, the bill sponsor would not support our amendments and presented a new amendment that changes the definition of sand dune. The new definition makes it easier for beachfront property owners to landscape over their sand dunes and make them part of their own private property.
Status: The bill has passed out of the House Natural Resources and Environment Committee and now is in the Rules Committee, awaiting placement on the House calendar for a full vote.
What You Can Do: Because of this bad amendment, the Georgia Water Coalition opposes this bill and is asking House members to vote against it. Contact your Representative and ask them to vote NO on HB271.
Find your Representative: http://www.house.ga.gov/mediaServices/en-US/FindYourLawmaker.aspx
Contact: Megan Desrosiers, One Hundred Miles – email@example.com
Learn more about the Georgians For Trust Fund Honesty Rally
Georgians for Trust Fund Honesty Rally
March 1 (12-2pm) at Liberty Plaza next to the state capitol
Come early and help build "The Scrapitol"
Each year, Georgia citizens pay millions in fees to the state for various services. For instance, since the creation of the Solid Waste and Hazardous Waste Trust Funds in the early 1990s, some $469 million has been collected for clean community programs to fix leaking landfills, toxic dumps and illegal tire dumps. But of that, $193 million (about 40 percent) has been diverted to other parts of the state budget. The result: dozens of illegal tire dumps and hundreds of hazardous waste sites still awaiting cleanups and still polluting our communities.
Rally March 1 at Liberty Plaza (12-2pm)
On March 1, citizens from across the state are gathering at Liberty Plaza adjacent to the state capitol for a rally and press conference to bring attention to this problem and raise support for HR 158, a measure that will create a constitutional amendment allowing legislators to "dedicate" fees collected for programs like the Hazardous Waste and Solid Waste Trust Funds and finally end the annual legislative looting of these and other programs.
At the rally, we will build a giant replica of the state capitol using some 500 scrap tires. "The Scrapitol" will symbolize our frustration with the current system and serve as a call for change.
To help build The Scrapitol, come early beginning at 8 a.m. Please e-mail Joe Cook at firstname.lastname@example.org if you plan to attend or can bring a group from your organization to participate. Bring a tire, make a sign, bring a friend and tell legislators, "You're TIREd of the lies and deception."