Record Number of Coal Ash Bills ‘Crossover’ in the Legislature

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Environment Georgia

Atlanta, GA – Three pieces of legislation dealing with coal ash passed out of the Georgia House early on ‘Crossover Day,’ the deadline for a bill to pass out of the chamber in which it was introduced.

“We know coal ash ponds around our state are leaching coal ash toxins so it is good to see the Georogia House pass three bills addressing the coal ash problem pass on Crossover Day,” said Jennette Gayer, Director of Environment Georgia and a chair of the Georgia Water Coalition’s (GWC) Coal Ash Committee. “Now the challenge will be making sure these bills become law and comprehensively address our coal ash problem.”

The three bills that passed this Crossover Day are:

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

  • HB 929 which 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 which will close a loophole created in 2018 that encourages the importation of out-of-state coal ash to Georgia.

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.

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

Unfortunately, none of the bills currently still alive currently require liners on any facilities storing coal ash. Liners were specifically requested 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.”

“Storing industrial waste full of toxic heavy metals permanently submerged in aquifers used for drinking water is not the legacy we should leave for future generations of Georgians,” concluded Gayer. “Other states in the south are making the right decision for their residents, Georgians deserve the same, we have between now and the end of the session to figure out how these bills can help.”