Category: Environment

An Oxymoron for 21st Century Atlanta: More Roads Equal Improved Air Quality Laura Creasy The Atlanta Regional Commission recently released its Regional Transportation Plan, which is the region’s transportation blueprint for the next quarter century. Based on land use and transportation policies specified by the federal government, it identifies $36 billion of transportation improvements ¾ 55 percent of which specifically target transit. However, the ARC projects automobiles will represent 97 percent of all trips in 2025, an ironic admission given the substantial transit investment in the plan. In principle, mass transit could improve the region’s air quality, in addition to relieving congestion. However, the automobile provides an irreplaceable convenience that cannot be ignored, as supported by the decline in transit’s… View Article

Roadless Areas Paved with Politics

Jefferson G. Edgens In October 1999, President Clinton circumvented Congress through executive rulemaking and proposed that 40 million acres of the national forest system be designated de facto wilderness. His goal is to protect the roadless areas within the 192,000,000-acre national forest system, which includes 140 national forests in 37 states. Unfortunately, his plan smacks of political convenience rather than forest protection. In simplistic terms, his plan bans all future road building. However, the president’s agenda behind the plan is far from simplistic. First, President Clinton is using executive directive to establish roadless areas, or de facto wilderness, without going through Congress. Congress sets the tone for resource management with such acts as the Multiple Use Sustained Yield Act, the… View Article

A Tune Up for Automobile Emission Testing

Kenneth Green There are only so many ways to improve air quality, and in places like Atlanta, where 30 to 40 percent of the air pollution comes from cars, emission systems maintenance of cars and trucks pretty much has to be part of the prescription. The clean air act requires that polluted areas implement automobile inspection and maintenance programs, and the EPA has its idea of what a ‘gold standard’ program looks like. The problem is, EPA’s one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work worth a darn. If traditional annually-test-every-car-at-the-tailpipe programs worked, you’d find more properly maintained cars in areas that ran such programs than you would in areas without them, right? Well, you don’t. If it was just a matter of high… View Article

Death Taxes Cost Us Sprawl

Jefferson G. Edgens, Ph.D. Anti-sprawl or slow-growth campaigns have erupted across the nation during this decade. Slow-growth advocates claim sprawl costs us all ¾ what they should be saying is the death tax costs us sprawl. Indeed, the loss of farmland and wildlife habitat to an ever-increasing desire to live the American Dream has become a major political battle. Ironically, as anti-growth forces argue for more governmental restrictions, the elimination of one government policy ¾ the onerous and arbitrary federal ‘death’ or estate tax ¾could correct some of our sprawl-related problems. The estate tax ¾ levied on the value of one’s assets (land, business, bank accounts, stocks, bonds, etc.) at the time of death ¾ currently encompasses a broad… View Article

Electric Drive: The Standard for the 21st Century

John Wilson Global technology, environmental, and transportation trends are moving quickly toward a revolution in vehicles. The revolution can be seen as close as Centennial Olympic Park, the parking decks at Lenox Square, or the streets of Chattanooga. It can also be observed in street signs in Paris and La Rochelle, France, or as a topic of discussion in governments on every continent. It can even be found on the Web, where you can “buy into” this revolution with your credit card. The revolution is bringing clean, highly efficient, and ultra-quiet electric drives to buses, garbage trucks, pickups, sedans, delivery vehicles, scooters, and bikes. It is at the heart of the transformation of Chattanooga from “the dirtiest city in the… View Article
Dr. Kenneth Green Director of Environmental Program Reason Public Policy Institute Executive Summary On the brink of a new century, Georgia carries with it a 20-year-old problem: ozone levels that exceed federal air quality standards. Ground-level ozone is an air pollutant implicated in causing sickness and premature death via aggravation of a variety of lung disorders such as asthma and emphysema. As a result, innovative and cost-effective solutions to high ozone levels are in demand throughout the country, and Georgia is no exception. Metro Atlanta currently faces the greatest ozone-reduction challenge. Moreover, this pollutant respects no boundaries — 13 of Metro Atlanta’s 21 counties are “serious” nonattainment areas as classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The current ozone… View Article
By Kelly McCutchen As has been well reported in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Atlanta’s next mayor faces a ticking time bomb – the city’s water and sewer system. Due to years of neglect and poor design, raw sewage continues to flow into Atlanta’s rivers and streams, polluting the waterways for both Atlanta citizens and Georgians living downstream. Even more frightening is the recent finding that the city’s drinking water is at risk of contamination. In addition, the lack of sewer capacity threatens to freeze economic growth – growth that is crucial to Atlanta’s and Georgia’s future. Where is the public outrage? Where is the Sierra Club? If the Dow Chemical Company had flagrantly dumped more than two million of gallons of… View Article
Terry L. Anderson and Pamela S. Snyder “Georgia coast faces new rules on water use” reads a February 20, 1996 headline from the Atlanta Constitution. The Associated Press article says that South Carolina is threatening to sue Georgia for using too much water from the Floridan Aquifer. In response, Georgia will impose new restrictions on groundwater pumping in 24 coastal counties, especially in the growing Savannah and Brunswick areas. The restrictions are nothing new to those Georgians who depend on the Floridan Aquifer for their water supply. It is common knowledge that heavy pumping in Savannah has created a cone of depression centered under the city. Saltwater has begun to intrude into the aquifer at Hilton Head Island, South Carolina,… View Article

What Are State-Owned Tidal Waters and Marshlands?

By Terry West The following article originally appeared in the September 1998 issue of the Georgia Policy Review. Terry West is program manager of Habitat Management Program,which serves as the regulatory arm of the Coastal Resources Division, responsible for administration of our Coastal Marshlands Protection Act and Shore Protection Act. Both Acts contain permitting process requirements as the primary means of controlling impacts to jurisdictional marshlands and beaches. This article is first in a series entitled, “Habitat Management in Georgia’s Coastal Area.” It is reprinted with permission of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources with appropriate credit given. Based on the Public Trust Doctrine of law, the lands beneath the waters subject to the ebb and flow of the tide… View Article
by Randy Eminger The following article originally appeared in the 1998 Election Issue of the Georgia Policy Review. Randy Eminger is Southern Vice President at the Center for Energy and Economic Development. The Center for Energy and Economic Development (CEED) is a national, nonprofit organization that advocates on behalf of low-cost, reliable, environmentally compatible, long-term coal-fired electricity generation in America. Perhaps more than most years, the talk in Georgia this summer turned to the weather. We all sweated through the muggy mornings and scorching afternoons. But hot summers in the South are not that out of the ordinary. What is odd is that this year, many weather discussions have been upgraded from a casual barbershop conversation to a national political… View Article

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