Applause for Key Environmental Emergency Response Bill

Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, along with other members of Georgia Water Coalition, supports HB 549. It would create an emergency response program within the Environmental Protection Division.

In July 2013, 10,000 gallons of raw sewage poured into Tanyard Creek and killed more than 100 fish. (Photo credi: Chattahoochee Riverkeeper)
In July 2013, 10,000 gallons of raw sewage poured into Tanyard Creek and killed more than 100 fish. (Photo credi: Chattahoochee Riverkeeper)

Chattahoochee Rivekeeper has been busy at the state Capitol the past few weeks, as there are several bills that are of great importance to our members and partners.

We are happy to report that one of these bills, HB 549, dubbed the "emergency response bill," passed the House Wednesday (Feb. 26) with a unanimous vote. 

Introduced by Rep. Jon Burns (R-Newington), the bill would require the Environmental Protection Division to devise -- and adhere to -- emergency protocols developed with local responders regarding  -- regarding critical threats to our water resources, such as chemical spills.

Not only would the bill require timely responses to these emergencies, but proper notification to the public. It would also make it more difficult to cut funding from the EPD's environmental response program.  

This is great news for us -- and other environmentalists -- who shudder at the thought of another Ogeechee River fish kill disaster. The Elk River contamination in West Virginia is also a stirring reminder of why emergency environmental response is so important.

Here in Atlanta, we have also experienced related complications. In July 2013, for example, 10,000 gallons of raw sewage poured into Tanyard Creek, compromising water resources and killing more than 100 fish.

What happens next?

After March 3, the Senate will take up the bill. It will have to pass the Senate Natural Resources and Environment Committee, with a likely hearing. It would then move on to: the Senate Rules Committee, the Senate floor vote, and -- if passed -- to the governor for his signature.  

How can you help?

  • Contact your local Senator and let them know that you support this bill. Find out who your legislators are by clicking here.
  • Stay informed about the issues via Georgia Water Coalition.
  • See something fishy going on in the Chattahoochee River? Report it to us.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.


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