Coal Ash Bills Need Action on Crossover Day

Environment Georgia

Atlanta, GA – Time is running out to move important coal ash legislation at the Georgia General Assembly. March 12th or ‘Crossover Day’ is the deadline for a bill to pass out of the chamber in which it was introduced.

“We call on the Georgia House to step up for Georgia’s waterways this Crossover day,” said Jennette Gayer, Director of Environment Georgia and a chair of the Georgia Water Coalition’s (GWC) Coal Ash Committee. “Coal ash ponds around our state are leaching toxins, we can’t wait until the next legislative session to take action.”

Coal ash is the residue left behind after burning coal and it is toxic–it can contain lead, selenium, arsenic and more. Much of Georgia’s coal ash is stored in pits around coal-fired power plants owned by Georgia Power. These pits are unlined and recent research indicates that the toxins in coal ash are leaking into the well water of nearby communities and triggering serious health problems. Unfortunately, Georgia Power does not plan to line  these coal ash storage facilities that will permanently be left in our groundwater, and which will likely lead to future contamination.

Coal ash is also imported from out of state and stored in six solid waste landfills. This influx of out-of-state coal ash is encouraged by low surcharge fees.

Environment Georgia and the GWC’s Coal Ash Committee is working to ensure passage of three bills on Crossover Day:

  • HB 93 would require Georgia Power to notify communities when they drain water out of their coal ash ponds. 

  • HB 929 will require long-term monitoring of groundwater around coal ash ponds, to make sure the toxins aren’t posing a threat to our communities.

  • HB 959 will close a loophole created in 2018 that encourages the importation of out-of-state coal ash to Georgia.

More info on the bills and other coal ash bills being tracked can be found here.

Unfortunately, two bills that would have required liners on any facilities storing coal ash have failed to even get hearings in the House and Senate. The bills were asked for by residents of Juliette, GA that visited the Capitol and shared details of the high level of coal ash toxins found in their drinking water. 

“This issue is life and death in Juliette,” said Angela Marlow, a Juliette resident and member of the Middle Georgia Clean Water Alliance. “Without support from the Georgia legislature contamination of our water will continue.