Picture and bills: Capitol Conservation Day 2019-02-20

Wednesday I joined conservation groups from across Georgia to lobby the state legislature, in Capitol Conservation Day 2019, helping move along some bills.

CCD on the Georgia Capitol Steps 2019-02-20
Photo: Erik Voss for Georgia Water Coalition
This photograph can be freely shared, without limitations.

I’m in the hat on the right. Most of the other eight Riverkeepers of Georgia are also in this picture.

At the Bird Supper the previous Wednesday, I discussed two of the same topics and their bills with legislators: trust funds and coal ash.

Stop fee diversions

Jay Powell’s Trust Fund bill passed the Georgia House this same Wednesday, by all but one vote (one Representative always votes against every bill). Last year it failed in the Senate because the Lieutenant Governor would not schedule a vote on it. The new Lt. Gov. was a co-sponsor of a similar bill last year, so chances of passage look better this year.

If the Georgia government is going to tax us, it could at least use the funds for their stated purpose. This bill would get a Georgia constitutional amendment on the ballot to stop trust fund fee diversions. It does have exceptions for economic downturns.

Coal ash

Jeff Jones’ two coal ash bill still seem on track.

A new coal ash bill, to raise tipping fees for coal ash to at least match those for household trash, was introduced the previous Friday. Two of its co-sponsors’ districts are at least partly in the Suwannee River Basin: Sen. William Ligon (District 3 containing the Chesser Island Landfill on the other side of the Okefenokee Swamp) and Greg Kirk (13th, including half of Tift and Turner, Worth, Crisp, Wilcox, and Dooly Counties).

Sen. Ellis Black (8th, including Lowndes, Cook, Brooks, Lanier, Clinch, Echols, and half of Thomas Counties) was supportive of coal ash bills last year and also last week at the Bird Supper.

I left messages for Dean Burke (11th, including Colquitt and part of Thomas Counties) and Tyler Harper (7th, including half of Tift, and Ben Hill with the Fitzgerald landfill, Irwin, Berrien, Coffee, Atkinson with the Willacoochee landfill, Bacon, and Ware Counties and half of Charlton, so the west or Suwannee half of the Okefenokee Swamp).

Sen. Harper is also Chair of the Georgia Senate Committee on Natural Resources and the Environment, which is the most likely committee to hear SB 123.

Central south Georgia

Maybe you’d like to contact your Georgia State Senator about SB 123 or the other bills. Follow the links in this WWALS web page for contact information.

We already have coal ash in the landfill in Lowndes County, from the Tennessee coal ash pond dam break of a decade ago and from Jacksonville, Florida. We don’t need any more coal ash in our landfills, with its toxic and radioactive components.

We don’t need any more coal ash going into hazardous uses such as fertilizer, such as happened in Tifton.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!