Are You Hearing This, EPD?

October 22, 2009 at 3:48 pm Leave a comment

by Maura Friedman, UGA Student Organizer

Though Power4Georgians, a coalition of Georgia electric membership corporations, is quick to tout dirty coal, on October 20th, the real source of power was the people.

About a third of the students and youth who took the hearing by storm.

About a third of the students and youth who took the hearing by storm.

At Tuesday’s Environmental Protection Division hearing, Georgia citizens had the opportunity to publicly voice comments on the proposed coal-fired power plant to be built in Sandersville, GA. People hailing from all backgrounds and corners of the state came out in full force to represent what they wanted the future of Georgia to look like. Nearly 8 out of every 10 who spoke agreed that the future should include clean air, fresh water, healthy kids, and, subsequently, no coal.

Members of communities across the state came together to remind the EPD that coal’s pollutants and health effects don’t just stay within city limits, they’re felt upwind and downstream as well, while Sandersville residents made it clear their livelihood wasn’t up for discussion either.

Most striking about the content of the hearing was the human component. Many who spoke included stories of their personal connection to the land. Sometimes we forget that polluting streams means a granddaughter can’t play in the water or a family can’t eat the fish their son catches. Polluting the air means residents can’t enjoy their own property or a young person leaves to raise a family somewhere safer. Using 16 million gallons of water a day to run a coal fired power plant means wells go dry, but more than that, it means a specific family loses their water access.

Although the promise of jobs to accompany the construction of the coal plant glimmered like fool’s gold, many had their eye on an even more economical prize. The resounding preference at the hearing was for renewable energy and green jobs, the creation of which provides an average of 6 jobs to every 4 jobs fossil fuel-dependent industry contributes. Moreover, sustainable energy does not ask communities to make the tremendous choice between jobs and health.

On Tuesday, the people spoke and their message, one against the damage coal brings to communities, resonated clearly. Now their fate, as well as that of their land and future generations is in the hands of the EPD as Georgia waits with bated breath.

-Maura Friedman

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Entry filed under: coal, direct action, georgia, Georgia YES!, government, green jobs, mining, mountainjustice, renewable energy, southeast, southern energy network.

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