EVENT: David Pope of non-profit environmental advocacy organization, Southern Environmental Law Center, to speak at Skidaway Rotary

3 02 2009

David Pope of the Southern Environmental Law Center will speak to the Skidaway Rotary Feb. 18 about “Protecting Coastal Treasures.” Pope will discuss the unique and important resources on the Georgia coast, the threats they face, and what SELC is doing to protect those resources. The Southern Environmental Law Center is a non-profit, donor-supported environmental advocacy organization using the power of the law to protect the environment and special places in the South. Working to defend the public’s interest and never for private gain, SELC provides its legal services without charge to other environmental organizations and partner groups.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(SAVANNAH, GA) David Pope of the non-profit environmental advocacy organization, the Southern Environmental Law Center, will speak to the Skidaway Rotary February 18 about “Protecting Coastal Treasures.” Pope will discuss the unique and important resources on the Georgia coast, the threats they face, and what SELC is doing to protect those resources. The Southern Environmental Law Center uses the power of the law to protect the environment and special places in the South. Working to defend the public’s interest and never for private gain, SELC provides its legal services without charge to other environmental organizations and partner groups. SELC has a special initiative focused on protecting the Georgia coast with three lawyers working on this effort.

The Director of the Georgia/Alabama office of the Southern Environmental Law Center, Pope oversees the nonprofit environmental advocacy organization’s special initiative focused on protecting the Georgia coast. He also supervises all of SELC’s other work in Georgia and Alabama, including work to protect the public’s interest in our air, water and forests and work to improve our transportation issues and energy efficiency. In addition, he serves on the management committee for the organization and helps sets the priorities for work throughout the South.

He is a former partner at Carr, Tabb & Pope in Atlanta, with 29 years of environmental law practice. He graduated from University of Florida, Phi Beta Kappa, and University of North Carolina Law School.
About the Southern Environmental Law Center SELC is a nonprofit donor supported, environmental advocacy organization using the power of the law to protect the environment and health in the Southeast. Since 1986, SELC has informed, implemented and enforced environmental law and policy concerning clean air and water, mountain forests, the coast and wetlands, and rural lands and livable communities. Working to defend the public’s interest and never for private gain, SELC provides its legal services without charge to other environmental organizations and partner groups. SELC has 63 staff members and offices in Charlottesville and Richmond, Virginia; Chapel Hill and Asheville, North Carolina; Charleston, South Carolina, Washington, DC,; and Atlanta. Visit SELC online at www.southernenvironment.org

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Georgia court sides with marina developer

17 11 2008

 

UPI

ATLANTA, Nov. 17  — The Georgia Supreme Court ruled Monday in favor of a developer who wants to build the state’s largest marina complex on the Gulf Coast.

 

The 5-2 decision found that the Coastal Marshlands Protection Committee, which issues permits for marinas, does not have the authority to regulate development on the adjacent mainland, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

The proposed marina would be near the Cumberland Island National Seashore. The developer is Land Resource LLC.

State law does not show “any intent on the part of the General Assembly to establish the committee as the ‘super regulator’ of any and all development in the coastal areas of the state,” Justice P. Harris Hines wrote for the court’s majority.

Environmental groups, including the Center for a Sustainable Coast and the Southern Environmental Law Center, are opposed to the project. They said the Coastal Marshlands Protection Act gave the state the responsibility to protect the tidal marshes from damaging storm water runoff created by developing the adjacent land.

Land Resource received the state permit to build the marinas and docks in 2005, but because of the legal challenges, the work has not been done.

To read the opinion, click here.





Georgia Artificial Turf Poses Lead Risk, California Attorney General Says

4 09 2008

LA Times

There’s more to artificial turf than meets the eye, according to California Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown. The A.G. has sued several manufacturers of the ersatz grass, saying they failed to disclose lead hazards, as staffer Marc Lifsher reports.

The lawsuit, which has been joined by Los Angeles City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo and the Solano County Dist. Atty. David W. Paulson, names Beaulieu Group of Georgia, AstroTurf of Georgia and FieldTurf USA Inc. of Florida.

All three companies said they were working with California officials to settle the lawsuit and stressed that their products were safe. AstroTurf, an artificial turf pioneer, said in a statement that it “has demonstrated its industry leadership by proactively developing new products that are below the most stringent standards for lead in consumer products.”

The turf is less dangerous when new, according to the A.G. But as it ages, it breaks down to dust that contains lead.

Read on here.





Issues with Dade County’s Code Enforcement Continue

27 08 2008

By SUMMER KELLEY (The Dade Sentinel)

Problems continue to arise at the new codes enforcement office.

It has not been that long since Steve Faircloth discovered that there were problems on the property where he was building a home and had to work with the Department of Natural Resources to get the issue resolved. Now another Dade County resident has run into more problems as she becomes one of the first to deal with the new office, ordinances and contractor requirements.
When Gail Hendrix began building a home in Dade County, she did not expect the problems that have plagued her property and home site.

In April of 2008, the house Hendrix and her husband built on a bluff in Marion County was completely destroyed in a fire. Hendrix’s husband had passed away a little over a year before and she lost nearly everything in the fire. It did not take long for Hendrix to decide that she would move to Sand Mountain in order to be closer to her church, and she purchased property that included seven and a half cleared acres on Scratch Ankle Road.

Hendrix said that she talked with Bruce Castleberry, the county code enforcement officer, and those in his office about permits that would be needed to build her new home.

She was informed that all that was needed was a PERK test for sewer and an electrical permit. A contractor was hired and a dirt pad was made for the home. The temporary electrical work was done and the rye grass was scraped off to make way for new grass to be planted.

When everything was ready, Hendrix went in to get her temporary electrical permit. She signed the receipt, asked again if there was anything else she needed, and then left.

Read on here.





Hogansville: Water Deal Not Tied to Landfill

22 08 2008

 

LaGrange Daily News – By Jennifer Shrader Staff writer

Hogansville City Council fired back Monday at U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, who last week called a water deal between the city and Meriwether County on the heels of a landfill proposal “suspicious.”

“This is not Westmoreland’s business,” said Hogansville Mayor Jimmy Jackson. “I don’t know what it’s going to take for people to stop making these statements. We did the best we could.”

Westmoreland, a Grantville Republican, lives about three miles from the proposed Turkey Run landfill in the northwest corner of Meriwether County. The site, proposed by Alabama-based Greenbow LLC, is just across Interstate 85 from Hogansville. State Sens. Mitch Seabaugh and Seth Harp say they will ask the congressman to intervene with the Environmental Protection Agency to stop the landfill’s progress.

The landfill has drawn sharp opposition from many in the area, mainly because it’s proposed site is on the Blue Creek watershed. Westmoreland said the creek is considered the headwaters for West Point Lake and flows into Yellow Jacket Creek, which is a direct tributary to the lake.

Read more here.

Longleaf appeal, CO2, Georgia, climate change.





Meriwether Landfill Appeal Follows on the Heels of Longleaf CO2 Appeal

21 08 2008

 

With the ink barely dry on the Court of Appeals acceptance, another appeal seeks to define the role of ALJs in environmental appeals. 

 

GreenLaw, Friends of the Chattahoochee, Inc. and Sierra Club sought to overturn an ALJ’s decision upholding an EPD permit for the Longleaf facility.  On appeal to Superior Court, Fulton County Superior Judge Thelma Wyatt Cummings Moore sided with environmental groups opposing the project by ruling in June that the permits are invalid because they don’t regulate CO2, which has been linked to global warming.  You can obtain a copy of Judge Moore’s decision here.  One of the issues on appeal is whether the state Environmental Protection Division should place legal limits on emissions of carbon dioxide by the planned $2 billion Longleaf Energy Station in rural southwest Georgia.  Yet, another issue was the proper standard of review to be used by an ALJ on appeal.

Right on the heels of that appeal is Zarate, et. al. v. EPD v. Greenbow, LLC, Civil Action No. 2008-CV-152006 in the Superior Court of Fulton County, preparing to be heard by a different Fulton County Superior Court Judge, Judge Ural D. Glanville.  This is an appeal from an Administrative Law Judge’s decision upholding a landfill permit in Northwest Meriwether County, Georgia, proposed by Greenbow, LLC, of Montgomery, Alabama.   Central to this appeal is the same standard of review issue.  The Superior Court oral argument is scheduled for August 25, 2008, at 8:30am in Courtroom 5F.

Standard of Review:

Though the Longleaf appeal has the bigger issue of regulation of carbon dioxide emissions, at issue in both matters is the standard of review for Administrative Law Judges.  Under Georgia law, when an ALJ reviews a challenge to a permit issued by EPD the ALJ conducts an evidentiary hearing, not an appellate review of the record.  As in other such evidentiary proceedings, the law requires application of a de novo standard of review.  OSAH Rule 21 (3) (“The hearing shall be de novo in nature[.]”)(emphasis added).  As recently ruled by Judge Cummings Moore of Fulton County Superior Court when faced with the same standard of review dispute on the part of an ALJ, there is no requirement that petitioners affirmatively prove that EPD’s decision, or its view of the facts, was “unreasonable.”

Accordingly, in evaluating petitioners’ claims and the evidence offered regarding those claims, O.C.G.A. § 12-2-2(c)(2)(A) and OSAH Rule 21 the Meriwether citizens argue that the ALJ was prohibited from deferring to EPD’s judgment on issuance of the landfill permit. 

Background:

On December 21, 2007, The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) in Atlanta issued a permit to Greenbow LLC of Montgomery, Alabama for the operation of the Turkey Run Municipal Solid Waste Landfill in Northwest Meriwether County.   The Landfill will be located in a municipal water supply watershed, on 1500 acres along  highway  54 near the town of Lone Oak, Georgia.

The issue became controversial approximately three years ago, when The Meriwether County Board of Commissioners approved Greenbow’s application for the landfill.  Many citizens expressed concern that the Meriwether County Commission acted in haste, and without due diligence, in approving the application, without considering the full impact of their action on the citizens who live closest to area where the proposed landfill will be operated.  

Growing concern over the landfill prompted the reinstatement of Meriwether County’s NAACP, as well as the formation of other groups who have now united in their effort to protest the landfill.   In addition, other organizations, such as Anniston based Community Against Pollution (CAP), have become involved and pledged to assist local citizens in challenging the landfill.

On May 19, 2008 at an Administrative hearing, an ALJ ruled in EPD’s favor, however Eco-Action pledged to take their fight to the next level, which will mean filing an appeal in Superior Court.  Briefs have been filed by both sides and the hearing is set for August 25, 2008, at 8:30am in Courtroom 5F, before Judge Ural D. Glanville. 

 





Longleaf CO2 Appeal Accepted by Georgia Court of Appeals

21 08 2008

On Wednesday, the Georgia Court of Appeals agreed to review a lower-court ruling that has halted plans for Longleaf coal-fired power plant, the state’s first in more than 20 years.  At issue is whether the state Environmental Protection Division should place legal limits on emissions of carbon dioxide by the planned $2 billion Longleaf Energy Station in rural southwest Georgia.  The plant is a project of Houston-based Dynegy Inc.

The project’s opponents, including an environmental group based at the proposed site of the plant in Early County, say the health impacts of coal-burning technology outweigh the plant’s potential economic benefits.  Appealing from the Administrative Law Judge’s ruling up-holding the permit, environmental groups GreenLaw, Friends of the Chattahoochee, Inc. and Sierra Club sought to overturn the ALJ’s decision.  At the Superior Court level, Fulton County Superior Judge Thelma Wyatt Cummings Moore sided with environmental groups opposing the project by ruling in June that the permits are invalid because they don’t regulate CO2, which has been linked to global warming.  You can obtain a copy of Judge Moore’s decision here.

The EPD and Dynegy sought to appeal the decision.  Late last month, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce also submitted a brief supporting the applicants.  See Longleaf Energy Associates v. Friends of the Chattahoochee, No. A08D0472 and Couch v. Friends of the Chattahoochee, No. A08D0473.  Both applicants seek the complete reversal of Judge Moore and argue that Massachusetts v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency only held that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) could, not does regulate CO2 under the CAA.  The contention is that Judge Moore jumped the gun and should have waited on the EPA to make the decision as to whether and how to regulate CO2.  Longleaf’s Application can be found here, EPD’s Application here, and the Amici Application of the Chamber, here

As the appeal has been accepted, the case awaits docketing.  Upon docketing, the appellants will have 20 days to file their briefs, the environmental groups will have 20 days thereafter to respond.  Finally, the appellants will have 20 days to file any reply brief thereafter.  We will post upon docketing.