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Atlanta Environmental Law Blog

Report: Georgia drinking water among top five states for Clean Drinking Water Act violations

Clean, safe drinking water is a precious resource, and yet most of us take it for granted most of the time. Typically, it is only when there is news of water contamination crisis arises that people begin to realize how lucky they are to have clean water.

Although relatively clean water is something most people in the United States have most of the time, readers may be surprised to learn that our water is not necessarily as clean as we might assume. According to the nonprofit environmental advocacy group National Resources Defense Council, nearly every state is known to have numerous violations of federal clean drinking water standards. 

Recent federal case in GA clarifies pleading standard in some anti-SLAPP claims

In recent posts, we’ve been looking at the topic of SLAPP litigation, which is often aimed at those who work in environmental advocacy and those who simply take steps to protect their own environmental rights. As we noted last time, Georgia’s anti-SLAPP law applies in both state and federal court.

The benefit of Georgia’s anti-SLAPP law, as with protections offered by other states, is that it allows defendants to SLAPP claims to have these claims quickly dismissed. Defendants are required to meet the initial burden of showing that the plaintiff’s claim arises from the defendant’s right of petition or free speech. If that burden can be met, the plaintiff is then required to show there is a “probability” that he or she would prevail on the claim.  

What does the EPA mean by "monitoring?"

Anytime the Environmental Protection Agency requires you to remain in compliance with certain environmental regulations, its representatives tell you that the agency monitors your activities and conditions. You might not understand exactly what that means, however.

Understanding how the EPA does its monitoring might help you remain in compliance or better combat any supposed environmental violations the agency claims you have. Being able to head off any potential litigation could save time, money and effort.

Environmental groups and the importance of anti-SLAPP litigation, P.2

Last time, we began looking at the topic of anti-SLAPP protections, which are aimed at protecting those who seek to exercise their free speech rights or to protect the public interest from legal claims intended to discourage them from their efforts. As we noted, Georgia has an anti-SLAPP law which requires those filing claims based upon statements made before, or to be reviewed by, a government body to file written verification that the claim is made in good faith.

Failure to verify such a claim allows the claim to be struck down if it is not verified after notice. Claims which are verified even though they are not made in good faith can result in sanctions against parties who acted improperly, as well as dismissal of the case, and an award of reasonable expenses and attorneys’ fees.

Environmental groups and the importance of anti-SLAPP litigation

Environmental groups play an important role in the enforcement of environmental law and the protection of the public interest in environmental matters. There are, of course, a large number of these groups, each with its own mission and activities. In carrying out their work, these organizations certainly face their share of challenges.

One growing challenge environmental groups are facing is litigation designed to discourage them from seeking legal remedies for harm to the public. These lawsuits are sometimes classified as SLAPP litigation—strategic lawsuits against public participation. The specific allegations vary, but often include claims libel or slander. In some cases, the claims are unmeritorious; in other cases, they place legal and financial barriers for environmental group.

UGA faces significant fine over hazardous waste storage, disposal violations

Businesses engaged in toxic chemical disposal have significant responsibilities, not only toward their own workers, but also to the public which could be negatively impacted by their actions. A lot can go wrong with the storage and disposal of hazardous chemicals, and state and federal regulators take violations seriously.

For instance, the University of Georgia may have to pay nearly $100,000 in fines to federal regulators in connection with a hazardous waste treatment facility used to store liquid radioactive waste mixed with other hazardous waste products. The university facility was found to have been in violation of various safety rules in 2014 and 2015.

Pipeline project in SW Georgia raising questions about environmental law compliance, P.2

Previously, we began looking at the problems with erosion that are being raised with the Sabal Trail Pipeline project in southwest Georgia. As we noted, compliance with the standards set forth in the “Green Book,” the Manual for Erosion and Sediment Control in Georgia, is part of the concern.

The Green Book contains a core set of standards concerning erosion and sediment control that must be followed at the state and local level. These are known as the Best Management Practice Standards and Specifications for General Land-Disturbing Activities, and they provide the minimum standards that bind those engaged in such activity. 

The environmental challenges of land use planning

Building or developing land comes with a host of complications, and not all of them involve finances or legal permits. As a Georgia developer, you will certainly want to consider the impact that the final project will have on the environment. To adequately address environmental complications and avoid unnecessary delays in your project, you will find it helpful to seek the guidance of an environmental law attorney as early as possible in the zoning process.

It takes a lot of work to effectively address the environmental concerns that you could face. Fortunately, you do not have to do this alone. With the right help, you can reach a solution to zoning and land use issues facing you, project neighbors and the entities that enforce zoning and environmental laws.

Pipeline project in SW Georgia raising questions about environmental law compliance, P.1

In our last post, we began looking at the situation of a farmer in southwest Georgia whose property has been destroyed as a result of the Sabal Trail Pipeline project. As we noted, the situation raises questions about whether the pipeline contractors are sincerely working to comply with the requirements of the Clean Water Act and the Manual for Erosion and Sediment Control in Georgia, also known as the Green Book.

The Clean Water Act, as some readers may be aware, regulates the discharge of pollution into the waters of the United States and gives the EPA authority to implement pollution control programs. The EPA has put in place various pollution control programs, including those enforce wastewater pollution standards and water quality standards for surface water contaminants.

Pipeline project may be leaving farmers with significant property costs

Georgia readers, especially in the southwest part of the state, may have heard by now of the Sabal Trail Pipeline, which runs across southwest Georgia down into Florida. The pipeline, which is a joint project of several energy companies, runs across nine counties in the state of Georgia, covering a lot of farmland, with the aim of bringing natural gas supplies to Florida.

As is often the case with such projects, there are various environmental concerns. The concerns about the impact of the pipeline project on property owners in Georgia are highlighted by what happened to a farmer in Brooks County earlier this year. 

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