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Atlanta Environmental Law Blog

Landowners upset over prospect of eminent domain for proposed pipeline project

Readers may have heard that energy company Kinder Morgan has been pushing to lay down 260 miles of pipeline along the Savannah River and to the coast. The pipeline would apparently break off from a larger pipeline that brings gas to the Northeast from Gulf Coast refineries, and the gas to be transported through the pipeline would mostly be for domestic use.

In order to push the project forward, Kinder Morgan plans to seek out the ability to exercise eminent domain, though the extent to which the company would do so is likely to be minimal. Still, the prospect of a private company forcing land owners to give up their property has turned out to be controversial. In addition, there are concerns about the potential environmental impact of laying down a pipeline.

Work with experienced attorney in enforcing environmental regulations

Last December, we wrote about new regulations put out by the Environmental Protection Agency which aim to control the amount of coal ash plants are able to release in the course of their operations. As we noted, the federal rule is the first ever to address coal ash.

Under the rule, coal ash ponds are supposed to conduct groundwater monitoring on a regular basis and ponds with high levels of coal ash are supposed to be shut down. We also pointed out that over twenty coal ash ponds are scattered throughout the state of Georgia, making the issue quite relevant here. 

Work with experienced environmental law attorney on air Clean Air Act compliance

Clean air is something many people take for granted, but here in Georgia, there are places where air quality is a significant concern. According to a recent report by the American Lung Association, six counties in the state of Georgia have unacceptably high ozone levels. Ozone, of course, is dangerous for humans, and it is critical to keep ozone levels under control.

Metro Atlanta faces particular challenges with air quality, not surprisingly. Air pollution in Atlanta comes from a variety of sources, but especially from vehicle emissions. The problem is made worse by an increasing population and no large transit system to accommodate drivers. Needless to say, everybody needs to do their part to help address the problem. This is particularly true for those who have duties to fulfill under clean air laws. 

Getting involved in the Superfund cleanup process

We’ve been speaking in recent posts about the Superfund cleanup process, how it works, and its purpose. What we want to highlight here is that citizens and communities have the opportunity to get involved in the Superfund cleanup process and see that their interests are represented in remedial investigations and feasibility studies, and ultimately that they are addressed when those plans are carried out.

The Superfund program, at least in theory, is supposed to encourage community involvement in the cleanup process.  According to the EPA, the program aims for community participation early on in the cleanup process and seeks to address the concerns communities bring to the table. To assist in this effort, the EPA has various training and technical resources available for communities to allow for better participation. 

Getting involved in the Superfund cleanup process, P.1

Last week, we spoke about an EPA proposal to perform cleanup at a contaminated site north of Brunswick. Although the 700-acre site is heavily polluted with mercury, dioxins and PCBs, the EPA has proposed a rather minimalist cleanup plan that includes removing seven acres of marshland and covering up an additional 18 acres.

The EPA, which apparently came up with the plan 20 years after the contamination was discovered, has been criticized for doing too little. Not surprisingly, the company responsible for funding the cleanup, Honeywell, has voiced support of the plan and has criticized those calling for more extensive cleanup. All of this begs the question: what is the process for planning out the cleanup of a contaminated site, and who exactly decides what goes into a cleanup plan?

Critics speak out against Superfund cleanup proposal

We have previously spoken on this blog about the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund Program. One of the main purposes of the Superfund program is to detect and clean up sites which have been subjected to contamination. Ordinary citizens can help in the enforcement of the program by alerting EPA authorities about site contamination. This is important, because it is often private citizens who first become aware of contamination and who are most impacted by it.

A contaminated site north of Brunswick is a good example of why private citizens would want to alert authorities about site contamination. The site, 700 acres of marshland, has been shown to be polluted with numerous contaminants, including PCBs, dioxins and mercury. Hundreds of thousands of pounds of mercury are estimated to have been dumped into the area.

Clean Power Plan a daunting proposal for power companies, states

Readers may have heard by now of the Clean Power Plan, which is a set of standards developed under the Clean Air Act geared toward reducing air pollution. At present, power plants have no restrictions on the amount of carbon pollution they contribute to the atmosphere. The Clean Power Plan aims to change the situation by establishing carbon emissions reductions on states.

The standards are structured so that states have flexibility in reducing emissions over time. Because each state will have unique challenges in implementing those standards, the proposal allows for different ways states and regions may work toward improving their emissions compliance. By 2030, it is hoped, the standards will reduce power plant emissions by half. 

Navigating zoning disputes not always an easy task for developers

We have previous written on this blog about the zoning and land-use challenges real estate and business developers can face in moving forward with a project. In some cases, these legal challenges are rooted in environmental issues, with neighbors opposing development in favor of environmental preservation.

A good example of this kind of situation is a dispute over the development of coastal property in North Naples. A Detroit-based developer who was approved under a 2008 settlement to build five high-rise towers along the Cocahatchee River and establish a golf course later changed plans and decided that it wanted to construct 62 single-family homes in place of the golf course, which would apparently not have been profitable. In order to approve the change in plans, zoning rules would have to have been changed. 

Work with experienced attorney when exposed to toxic substances on the job

Exposure to hazardous chemicals can have serious effects. Benzene exposure is a relatively common form of chemical exposure which one hears about in the news from time to time, and often involves workers who claim to have been exposed to the toxic substance in the course of their work.

Benzene is used to manufacture a variety of products and to make other chemicals used in manufacturing various products, so it is a common substance for workers to be exposed to in some settings. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, benzene, which may be absorbed through the skin or through inhalation, can have serious long-term consequences on one’s health, including decreasing one’s red blood cell count, leading to anemia, uncontrolled bleeding and depression of the immune system. Women who are exposed to benzene over a long period of time can notice irregular menstrual periods. Long-term exposure can also lead to cancer. 

What is the Georgia Erosion and Sedimentation Act?

In our previous post, we spoke about the legal issues surrounding an ongoing Department of Transportation project in Augusta and Columbia County. As we noted, some have filed lawsuits under the Clean Water Act in connection with the problems, and it is possible that there may be litigation under the Georgia Erosion and Sedimentation Act.

The purpose of the Georgia Erosion and Sedimentation Act, passed in 1975, was to create a comprehensive program to control soil erosion and to protect vulnerable environmental resources disturbed by excavation, dredging and other activities that disturb the integrity of land. The law works in concert with the Clean Water Act and other state programs aimed an erosion and sedimentation control. Local governments are able to adopt standards for erosion and sedimentation control and thus become “local issuing authorities,” though the law is overseen by other agencies as well. The primary agency responsible for enforcing the law is the Department of Natural Resources. 

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