GWC member SELC introduces new podcast sharing environmental stories in the South

Georgia Water Coalition member the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) has launched Broken Ground, a new podcast that amplifies the voices of communities, accidental environmentalists, and conservationists by sharing their stories, unearthing important – yet often overlooked – environmental issues throughout the South.

Through compelling stories from Southerners of all walks of life, Broken Ground shows the real-life impacts of environmental policies for individuals and communities who, when forced to bear the brunt of bad decisions, often become unlikely heroes as a result.

“When you start to chip away and get at what’s behind bad environmental policies, that’s where you often find the real story,” said Claudine Ebeid McElwain, host of Broken Ground. “Understanding why we are making bad environmental choices locally, regionally, and nationally is how we figure out what needs fixing.”

Over the course of four episodes, the first season explores the past, present, and future of energy decisions across the South. From the environmental and personal costs, to the ongoing threat of bad decisions, to our future possibilities, Broken Ground shines a light on the people and stories at the heart of the matter.

The first episode of Broken Ground revisits one of the worst environmental disasters in American history, when a man-made, earthen dike holding back millions of gallons of coal ash sludge broke at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Kingston coal plant in 2008. The horrific event inundated a small community with coal ash that devastated residents’ properties and nearby waterways. However, it took nearly a decade to uncover the full damage of this spill when it became apparent that workers tasked with cleaning up the coal ash were becoming sick and dying.

“Storytelling is one of the most important tools we can use to shed light on how environmental issues affect all of us,” said April Lipscomb, Staff Attorney in SELC’s Atlanta office. “Our hope is that through this podcast, we can elevate Southern voices and inspire others across the South to share their personal experiences with decision-makers to influence change.”

Broken Ground can be found on iTunesSpotify, or wherever listeners consume their podcasts.

2018 Dirty Dozen Report Telepress

Press Release – Dirty Dozen 2018: Dirty Politics Lead to Dirty Water

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2018 Dirty Dozen Report Release Slide Deck

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Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Amendment – Vote Yes on Amendment 1

Vote YES on Amendment One!!!

The Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Amendment is on the ballot on November 6 as Amendment One. Georgians now have a chance to dedicate funding for conservation and it can be done without a tax increase!

The amendment will allow a portion of the existing sales tax we are already paying on outdoor sporting goods to the protection of the state’s land, water, and wildlife.

Over $20 million would be dedicated every year for the next ten years. This funding could not be used for any other purpose and would be subject to strict accountability provisions and public disclosure. Only projects consistent with the state’s established goals for conservation would be approved.

If passed, this funding would be used to:

• Protect lands critical to clean drinking water and the quality of Georgia’s lakes, rivers and streams
• Acquire and improve parks and trails
• Maintain and improve access to wildlife management areas and create new opportunities for hunting and fishing
• Support Georgia’s $27 billion outdoor recreation industry
We need your help to get the word out so that we can pass this historic Amendment. Please forward this email to everyone you can and let people know this is a chance we will have only once in a generation. Learn more at https://www.georgiaoutdoorstewardship.org/

Fighting Clean Water Act Repeals

Several months ago, the Trump administration began its efforts to strip away long-standing clean water protections by proposing the suspension of standards under the Clean Water Act. The proposed 2-year suspension of the protections provided by the 2015 Clean Water Rule was the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ first step in a coordinated series of attacks.  Conservation groups argued before the U.S. District Court in Charleston that the agencies illegally refused to explain their rationale for the suspension and denied meaningful public comment. The court agreed, adamantly rejecting the agencies’ approach.

The ruling ends the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ suspension of clean water protections under the Clean Water Act and puts the Clean Water Rule back in effect for more than half of the country. This ruling does not apply to 24 states where other legal challenges are pending, including Georgia.  This win is important on its own, and perhaps even more so in preparation for impending efforts to permanently repeal the Clean Water Rule.

The Trump administration has already prepared a proposed rule that would degrade our rivers and streams that is expected to be released for public comment within the next two months. Under this proposal, which is backed by industrial polluters:

  • Small streams that flow into Georgia’s rivers, drinking water reservoirs and eventually our coastal estuaries and waters would be made vulnerable to industrial pollution, putting drinking water for 53 percent of Georgia’s population at risk.
  • Wetlands that absorb flood waters, improve water quality, support wildlife, and buffer our communities from hurricanes and storms would be at risk of fill and more pollution.
  • Our drinking water supplies from the Upper Chattahoochee River, our favorite swimming holes along the Flint River, our North Georgia trout fishing streams, and so many other waters would be in jeopardy.

We can’t afford to let the Altamaha, St. Marys, Savannah, and Georgia’s other rivers become polluted. We have worked too hard to keep these waters clean, and we are prepared .

But it is not enough to strike the administration in court. Communities across the South are fighting against big polluters and bad politics to make sure that toxic pollution stays out of our waters and basic, long-lasting protections remain in place. Georgians must engage in concerted outreach efforts to enlighten our members and the public at large that we can’t take our cherished waters for granted.

Do you want to get involved in the defense of the US Clean Water Act? Contact Bill Sapp at SELC.