While dangerous bills like ‘Campus Carry,’ School Takeover 2.0 and the campus rape cover-up bill are still moving forward, two promising coal ash regulations bills failed to survive a key legislative deadline.
Coal ash, the nasty waste product of coal-fired power plants, contains heavy metals that can leach into the environment, contaminating wildlife and getting into the water system.
The disposal of coal ash, also called coal combustion residuals or CCRs, has caused quite a bit of controversy, with communities like Jesup, Ga. fighting against for-profit companies that are trying to dispose of CCRs in their community. The public outcry from that community has certainly impelled some policymakers to act.
Earlier this year, two Republican legislators from near Jesup, part of Georgia’s southern coastal region, introduced legislation to try to better protect Georgians from coal ash disposal and contamination. None of those bills survived crossover day, the critical deadline for bills to get passed in at least one chamber in order to stay viable for the remainder of the 2017 legislative session, which ends March 30.
As Golden Isles News reports, debate surrounding a pair of house bills from Rep. Jeff Jones stalled in subcommittee and were sent to a study committee to resolve some of the questions posed by legislators.
Unfortunately, both Georgia Power and Georgia’s Environmental Protection Department opposed components of the bills, making the push from environmental advocacy groups that supported the measures an even tougher battle.
Rep. Jones has also been careful to thank Georgia Power for being “an excellent corporate citizen,” throughout the process.
Last year, Georgia Power announced they would close all their coal ash ponds in the state, which was originally cheered by environmental organizations. As that plan has been updated, it’s become clear Georgia Power is consolidating several coal ash ponds, but ultimately does not plan to, in fact, close them all.
So perhaps Georgia Power is less of an “an excellent corporate citizen,” and more a deep-pocketed corporate citizen elected officials are cautious to aggravate, even as local Georgia citizens are looking for leadership to create better, safer regulation of coal ash disposal.
Southeast Energy News notes that currently, the South risks becoming the dumping grounds for coal ash, if state regulations aren’t strengthened.
“The Southeast does not want to become the low-cost, low-environmental protection refuge for the nation’s coal ash,” Frank Holleman, a senior attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center, told Southeast Energy News.
After going through the study committee process, it’s likely the measures will be revived next year, although perhaps pared down to address a narrower set of concerns around coal ash disposal and contamination in Georgia.