Tag Archives: Law

Georgia legislature fails even to require notice on coal ash 2017-03-03

The coal ash bills didn’t even get out of the HNRE Committee, which instead appointed a study committee. You can ask your Georgia House members to get on that committee.

Peggy Riggins
Peggy Riggins Leslie Webb Riggins of No Ash At All in Valdosta 2017-03-01; photo by John S. Quarterman for WWALS.

Georgia Water Coalition, Press Release, 2 March 2017, Toxic Ash Dumping to remain secret; Georgia House Committee fails to vote on bills requiring community notification

Last year, Jesup residents found out that a landfill near their homes and wells leaked toxic metals found in coal ash into the soil and groundwater. The landfill company is proposing to make the landfill bigger and accept even more of the toxic waste.

“It felt like a punch in the gut,” said Peggy Riggins, Jesup resident. “We found out that toxins found in coal ash were underneath the landfill in our county. The government and the landfill knew for years before we were ever told. This is unacceptable. Our communities deserve to know about proposals to bring in toxic coal waste before its too late and has caused a problem.”

Mary Landers, SavannahNow, 2 March 2017, Lawmakers avoid public notice on coal ash dumping, Continue reading

Hamilton County Florida Valdosta wastewater resolution asks Georgia and Florida governors to step in 2017-02-21

Hamilton County, Florida is not pleased with Valdosta’s sewage, and has asked the states of Georgia and Florida to step in.

Thanks to Kristy Morgan, Chief Deputy Clerk/Administrative Assistant, Hamilton County Clerk’s Office, for the PDF.

RESOLUTION 2017-01

A RESOLUTION BY THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF HAMILTON COUNTY, FLORIDA DEMANDING PROTECTION OF THE WITHLACOOCHEE RIVER, THE ALAPAHOOCHEE RIVER, THE ALAPAHA RIVER AND THE SUWANNEE RIVER FROM THE ILLEGAL DISCHARGE OF RAW SEWAGE BY THE CITY OF VALDOSTA, GEORGIA

WHEREAS, WHEREAS, the Withlacoochee River forms the Western boundary of Hamilton County, Florida from the Florida/Georgia state line until its juncture with the Suwannee River; and

WHEREAS, the Withlacoochee River provides recreational and economic benefits to the citizens of Hamilton County and others; and

WHEREAS, citizens of Hamilton County depend on clean water from the Withlacoochee River watershed for activities of daily life as well as for agricultural, business, and recreational purposes; and

WHEREAS, the health and welfare of many Hamilton County citizens is directly harmed by any degradation of the quality of water in the Withlacoochee River and its watershed; and

WHEREAS, the City of Valdosta, Georgia over the past several years has Continue reading

A man shot by deputies after shooting at Sabal Trail pipe 2017-02-26

A man is dead over the Sabal Trail pipeline. As the first person to call for protests against Sabal Trail, this is not what I called for.

Summary of news reports: A man shot at and hit Sabal Trail pipe near Dunnellon, Florida, was reported to the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, was chased by Florida Highway Patrol and Citrus County deputies, who allege he brandished a weapon at them, whereupon they shot and killed him. The deputies involved “will be placed on administrative leave while undergoing evaluations” per “policy and protocol”. The identity of the suspect is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

Update 2017-02-27: Hannah Morse, Bradenton Herald, 2017-02-27, Chokoloskee man identified as suspect who was killed after cops say he shot at pipeline,

James Leroy Marker, 66, of Chokoloskee, was identified by FHP Monday afternoon as the suspect in the incident.


Photo: Doug Engle/Ocala Star-Banner

Citrus County Sheriff’s Department, facebook, 2017-02-26, HAPPENING NOW: SABAL PIPELINE SHOOTING LEADS TO CHASE — ALLEGED SUSPECT DECEASED: ALL DEPUTIES ARE SAFE, Continue reading

GA HR 289: Recommend Congress remove eminent domain from Federal National Gas Act

It’s just a resolution, but if passed by the Georgia House, the same that voted 128 to 34 to deny river-drilling easements to Sabal Trail, it will send a message to Congress. Maybe Florida’s statehouse would like to pass a similar resolution.

A RESOLUTION recommending that Congress remove the power of eminent domain from the Federal Natural Gas Act; and for other purposes.,

LC 34 5041

17

House Resolution 289

By: Representatives Dunahoo of the 30th, Quick of the 117th, McCall of the 33rd, Caldwell of the 20th, Raffensperger of the 50th, and others

A RESOLUTION

WHEREAS Recommending that Congress remove the power of eminent domain from the Federal Natural Gas Act; and for other purposes.

WHEREAS, the Georgia House of Representatives and Georgia Senate are concerned about the disastrous impact unrestrained use of eminent domain has on the private property rights of the citizens of Georgia; and

WHEREAS, America’s Founding Fathers clearly understood that private property rights were the foundation, not only of prosperity, but of freedom itself; and

WHEREAS, the common law, state law, and the United States Constitution were written to protect property rights, including the rights of people to freely acquire, use, and dispose of property; and

WHEREAS, Continue reading

Bad bill HB 316 SB 116 would take away stormwater permit revenue

If you want the Valdosta wastewater situation to be worse, let HB 316 SB 116 pass, taking away revenue for Valdosta or anybody upstream or down to control stormwater.

It turns out HB 316 was apparently from 2009.

The stormwater bill before the Georgia legislature this year (2017) is SB 116.

Here are the current GAWP talking points about SB 116, which you may notice also mention HB 316, which leads me to believe SB 116 is just HB 316 back again under another name.

Please Oppose Senate Bill 116
Georgia Association of Water Professionals

Senate Bill 116 would exempt “water-neutral sites”, defined as those properties designed to control runoff form a 25 year, 24-hour storm event in a manner consistent with the Georgia Stormwater Management Manual (GSMM), from paying stormwater user fees charged by local governments or authorities that have established stormwater utilities. Water-neutral sites, as defined in this bill, still discharge stormwater to the local drainage system, which the local government or authority is legally responsible for operating and maintaining.

Implications of HB 316: We ask you to consider the following far-reaching implications of the bill.

  1. Local Control. The State of Georgia should not interfere in how a local government operates a utility or charges its customers. This would be equivalent to the State saying how a local utility could charge (or not charge) for water or sewer services. If the General Assembly exempts “water-neutral properties” from paying fees for stormwater services, could they next exempt a defined class of customers from paying local water and sewer fees in the future?
  2. Economic Impact on Local Governments. This bill could have a devastating impact on local governments who are required to operate and maintain stormwater drainage systems for the public good and to protect the health, safety and welfare of their communities. “Water Neutral” properties are not actually water neutral because they still discharge stormwater runoff to the local drainage system thereby causing an impact. A local government still must bear the cost of maintaining the stormwater drainage system even if every property builds a detention pond to the 25 year, 24 hour storm event standard. The City of Griffin reports that the potential loss of revenue to their stormwater utility, should this bill pass, would be approximately 40% of their annual user fee revenue, thus crippling their stormwater utility and its ability to provide essential services.
  3. Public Safety. Stormwater utility revenues allow local governments to reduce flooding and replace failing infrastructure, including collapsing culverts under public roads. There is an unacceptable risk to public safety if local governments no longer have the ability to collect revenues to perform important and essential storm water management services.
  4. Existing Credits. Eligible properties with detention ponds are already offered user fee credits ranging from 30 — 50% from most stormwater utilities. This credit is offered in recognition of the reduced impact these properties have on the drainage system. However, the credit is not 100% because controlling the 25 year, 24-hour storm does not eliminate a property’s impact on the local drainage system; the customer still receives stormwater services.
  5. Customer Equity. Local governments are alone in their responsibility to manage stormwater drainage systems and operate stormwater management programs to protect life and property from flooding, and to protect local waterways from stormwater impacts so that the State’s waters remain fishable and swimmable for Georgians to enjoy. There is virtually no funding available from the State or Federal governments to assist local governments in carrying out this important charge. Thus, local governments have been forced to develop local financing mechanisms to provide sufficient revenue sources to carry out this responsibility. Allowing a contributor to the problem to be exempted from participating in paying a fair user fee for this service would be grossly unfair to the remainder of the paying customers and to the local government as well.

Here are all the Georgia state senators in WWALS watersheds.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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

In addition to ACCG and GAWP, this bill is also opposed by the Georgia Water Coalition (GWC), including WWALS. Below are talking points from the ACCG website. Please contact your Georgia state legislators.

Please Oppose House Bill 316
Association County Commissioners of Georgia
Georgia Association of Water Professionals

House Bill 316 would exempt state government entities from paying local government stormwater utility charges. While specifically using the word “charges”, the proposed exemption appears to presume that the stormwater utility fee is a tax and not a fee for services. In presenting and promoting the bill, proponents may refer to these fees as a “rain tax”. However, in 2004, the Georgia Supreme Court specifically ruled in McLeod v. Columbia County that stormwater utility charges are, in fact, a fee for services, and not a tax. The State is exempt from taxes, but there is no legal or logical basis for the State to exempt itself from paying valid fees for actual services rendered.

Implications of HB 316: Continue reading

Norman Bay resigns, leaving FERC without a quorum 2017-01-26

After Trump bumped LaFleur over his head today, former FERC Chairman Norman Bay resigned from the Commission this same day. That leaves FERC with only 2 out of five Commission slots occupied. I would guess that means no quorum, although what does it matter? The FERC Commissioners only ever rejected one pipeline in thirty years.

His resignation letter is a six-page pat on his own back that never once mentions solar power, eminent domain, landowners, water, river, aquifer, or environment. His biggest brag is: Continue reading

Cheryl A. LaFleur again FERC Acting Chairman 2017-01-26

President Trump just brushed aside FERC Chairman Norman Bay, one of the few FERC Commissioners to show any reservations about FERC’s rubberstamping of pipelines, and put Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur back once again as Acting Chairman. This while FERC has only three Commissions, when it’s supposed to have five, probably indicates FERC is going to be pushing ahead all pipeline projects. Of course, that’s not much different from what we’ve seen for years with Sabal Trail.

Johnathan Crawford and Jennifer A. Diouhy, Bloomberg Politics, 19 January 2017, Trump Picks LaFleur as Chairman of U.S. Energy Regulator, Sources Say, Continue reading