Category: Environment

Energy Solutions in Pursuit of a Problem

By Benita M. Dodd Georgians are nervously watching petroleum prices climb amid ongoing unrest in oil producer Libya. Under the Gold Dome, legislators are again subjected to the perennial push for home-grown alternatives to fossil fuels. Just this week, German experts took a new tack at the Capitol with a promising presentation on renewable sources of energy and their economic benefits. The temptation is great, but legislators must focus on commonsense policy that promotes cost-effective, clean energy. Germany has made remarkable inroads into renewable energy generation. Renewables have grown from 4 percent to about 10 percent of Germany’s energy portfolio over the past decade, German scientist Christine Woerlen told legislators. Not the least of the benefits, according to Woerlen, is… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd The first thing to know about Georgia’s water worries is that just as Washington doesn’t have a revenue problem but a spending problem, Georgia doesn’t have a water supply problem but a water storage problem. And with a busy session and a cash-strapped state facing Georgia’s legislators, members of a joint committee on water supply got a head start this week on the challenges ahead. There were some outside-the-box proposals, but there’s still more that could be done. Georgia’s annual rainfall averages 60 inches in the mountains, 55 inches across North Georgia and about 45 inches in central Georgia. But now that a judge has ruled that Lake Lanier, metro Atlanta’s major water source, was never… View Article

Environmental Gobbledygook, Economic Gridlock

By Benita M. Dodd Which is the environmentally sound approach, policy-makers seeing job creation as the key to economic recovery or environmental groups pushing for stringent prohibitions on interbasin transfers in Georgia? It may seem like a no-brainer, but even for Georgians who believe they know the answer, there’s one caveat:  It’s an election year.   Georgia legislators are under pressure to satisfy constituents at home who are concerned about losing water from “their” rivers and streams to metro Atlanta. The two Georgias debate, the us-versus-them of rural Georgia and metro Atlanta is fertile ground for fearmongering activists sowing the seeds of environmental “dangers” in moving water from one river basin to another. What’s the connection between the economy and interbasin… View Article

Land Protection Through Private Alternatives

Jefferson G. Edgens Governor Barnes should be commended for his proposal to protect 20 percent of open space. Not only is this a good idea, but it stresses two important points: local governments decide what areas to protect, and the program is voluntary. The only point of disagreement is using general appropriations to buy the land. The Governor’s plan requests $30 million for his 20 percent goal, but this is less than 10% of what a recent survey of Georgia county and city officials estimate is needed to protect 18,300 acres. When government uses funds to buy land to preserve open space, it means the dollars can’t be used for something else. Moreover, it creates a sense of entitlement. Local… View Article

Whither Your Weather Depends on Station Location

By Benita M. Dodd For years, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International and Chicago’s O’Hare airports have competed for the title of nation’s busiest airport. Last year, Atlanta won. As the official temperature stations for their respective cities, however, it seems the two airports tie – for the dubious honor of distorted data. And they’re not the only ones. In 2008, meteorologist Anthony Watts wrote in the Illinois-based Heartland Institute’s Environment and Climate News: “The community around O’Hare was much smaller during World War II, when the airport was built, than it is now. The area had a significantly less-urban population and lacked the acres of concrete and asphalt that exist there today.” You could replace “O’Hare” with “Hartsfield-Jackson,” and the same would… View Article

Removing the Political Shortage of Water

By H. Sterling Burnett and Ross Wingo About 82 percent of Americans receive drinking water via publicly owned water systems, according to the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Many of these municipal and regional systems operate at a loss, meaning users’ fees don’t cover the cost of treating and delivering the water. Many water authorities are critically behind on maintenance. They lack the capital to update their water purification and wastewater treatment plants or to secure additional water supplies to meet expected growth in demand. Privatization could solve these water supply problems. The majority of drinking water supply and treatment facilities and wastewater treatment plants in the United States are owned and operated by the government. According to the EPA,… View Article

Fault Feds, not Atlanta, for Lanier’s Woes

By Chick Krautler Today, Lake Lanier is more than 13 feet below its full pool and nearly 10 feet lower than it was this time last year. The state climatologist sees the next few weeks as critical in determining the extent and severity of the 2008 drought. By contrast, the reservoirs downstream from metro Atlanta are virtually full. This fact underscores the assertion of ARC and the metro Atlanta water utilities that Lanier’s record lows have more to do with how the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has operated the dam than the drought or claims that Atlanta’s growth has outstripped its water supply. For more than a year and a half, the Corps tried to use Lake Lanier and… View Article

Planning Regional Water Planning Councils

By Brant D. Keller, Ph.D.In the 2008 legislative session, four years after the passage of HB 237, the “Comprehensive Statewide Water Management Planning Act,” state lawmakers approved the framework for the Comprehensive Statewide Water Plan. As part of the plan, the state is currently divided into 10 Regional Water Planning Districts and the (existing) Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District.   For the past three years, discussion has surrounded concepts of demand, supply and return management. Words like desalination, interbasin transfers, non-point source management, reuse and a host of other terms have dominated the conversation of elected officials, state agencies, environmentalists, water professionals and other concerned parties and stakeholders.   This month, according to the plan schedule, these Regional Water Planning… View Article

Land Use Principles for Georgia

The Lone Mountain Compact’s “Principles for Livable Cities,” to which the Georgia Public Policy Foundation is a signatory, form the basis of land use principles: Absent a material threat to other individuals or the community, people should be allowed to live and work where and how they like. Centralized plans that attempt to determine the detailed outcome of community form and function should be avoided; they interfere with and constrict the dynamic, adaptive and evolutionary nature of neighborhoods and cities. Private property rights should be a fundamental element of development control and incorporated in local planning procedures and tools. The market, not centralized planning, is more effective in driving densities and land uses. Allow diversity in neighborhood design. Given relaxed… View Article

Wising Up to Georgia’s Water Woes

By Benita M. Dodd and Harold Brown “It is remarkable how many political ‘solutions’ today are dealing with problems created by previous political ‘solutions’,” conservative commentator Thomas Sowell wrote recently on the fires in Southern California. Sowell could have been talking about Anyplace, USA, but his point certainly is especially poignant when it comes to Georgia’s ongoing water challenges. To many observers – including neighboring states – the metro Atlanta region only has itself to blame. Having mismanaged its growth into unbridled sprawl, they argue, metro Atlanta is now expecting “rescue” from everyone else who has water. It’s interesting how providing an adequate water supply is portrayed as in the interests of public safety, until, that is, the “public” is… View Article

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Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers more quotes