Political Notes – Olens joins lawsuit attacking EPA order

[private]Attorney General Sam Olens is joining colleagues from 16 other states to sue the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over state regulations of pollutants emitted from industrial plants.

EPA has instructed Georgia and other states to revise their rules that limit these emissions to specified levels when a facility is starting up, shutting down, or in a period of malfunction.

The agency’s action was taken in response to a petition from the Sierra Club. Olens and his counterparts contend that the EPA mandate is a “costly and unnecessary burden.”

“The EPA has issued a decision that will make it more expensive for Georgia’s families to heat and cool their homes, and for Georgia’s businesses to keep the lights on and the machines running,” Olens contended.

Olens alleged that the EPA “has no respect for the states’ primary role in determining how to meet emissions targets. Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division, working cooperatively with other state agencies, has done an excellent job ensuring that Georgia’s industrial plants operate in an environmentally responsible manner.”

The petition was filed Tuesday in the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia.

The other states involved in the litigation are Florida, Kansas, West Virginia, South Dakota, Louisiana, Delaware, Arkansas, Alabama, Arizona, Ohio, Kentucky, South Carolina, North Carolina, Missouri, and Oklahoma.

Waycross will cut off the water

A strange and ongoing political dispute in Ware and Pierce counties involving state Rep. Chad Nimmer (R-Blackshear) has resulted in the city of Waycross declaring it will cut off water and sewer service to a portion of Pierce on Aug. 17.

As reported by Terry Dickson in the Florida Times-Union:

The affected area had been inside Waycross city limits from the 1980s until July 1 of this year when local legislation, House Bill 523, went into affect forbidding the city to have any Pierce County territory inside the city limits.

City Attorney Rick Currie said he was unaware that the agreement even existed until about three days ago and had argued in court that Waycross couldn’t provide the services without an agreement with Pierce County. Those arguments in a hearing prior to July 1 when Waycross tried to halt implementation of House Bill 523 on constitutional grounds.

Superior Court Judge Kelly Brooks refused to grant an injunction on House Bill 523, however, saying Waycross was not being harmed because state law allowed it to provide services outside its corporate limits and to bill customers and collect payments. But after Waycross raised rates, Pierce County filed a petition to halt the rate increases.

Pierce County wants the rates to remain at current levels until a study can be done, but Currie said the county has no standing for such a challenge.

“If it was still in the city limits, they could challenge the rates,’’ but House Bill 523 removed that authority, Currie said. . . .

State Rep. Chad Nimmer, R-Blackshear, did not forewarn Waycross he was introducing the bill so the city had no chance to argue against it before Gov. Nathan Deal signed it into law.

Waycross tried to do the right thing by continuing the services to the church and other customers in Pierce County in spite of House Bill 523, Burke said.

“You have already observed the Christian principle of turning the other cheek in your reaction to the sneak attack without an opportunity for input,” Burke said.

City Commissioner Diane Hopkins said the solution is simple.

“Those people need to get House Bill 523 rejected,” she said.

Meadows named to GHSA committee

House Speaker David Ralston named Rep. John Meadows (R-Calhoun) as co-chairman of the High School Athletics Overview Committee, which monitors the activities of the Georgia High School Association (GHSA).

Meadows will fill the unexpired term of former House member Jay Roberts, who stepped down from the General Assembly last spring.

© 2015 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: air quality rules , Chad Nimmer , EPA , John Meadows , Pierce County , Sam Olens , Waycross