Dear Editor: This is an open letter of thanks to the citizens of Madison, Franklin, Oglethorpe, Hart, Elbert, Stephens, Clarke and surrounding areas.
After a concerted effort, by a small group of determined citizens, the “twin bills” HB 857 and SB 385, are working their way through the state legislative houses. If passed, these bills will result in a statewide ban on burning creosote railway ties as fuel for power generation. Citizens became concerned about their health and quality of life when the Georgia Renewable Power (GRP) Biomass plants in Madison and Franklin counties broke their promise to burn only untreated wood and instead began to burn toxic creosote railway ties. We saw our air, land and water being polluted; our health and property rights violated, so we united to form a coalition. Our voices were heard.
In a matter of months, our elected officials responded to our cries for help. We thank House Rep. Alan Powell of Hartwell (District 32), House Rep. Tom McCall of Elberton (District 33), and Senator John Wilkinson of Toccoa (District 50) for promptly introducing the bills. Both the Madison and Franklin County BOCs unanimously passed resolutions to support these bills, sending a powerful message to the Legislators in Atlanta. We thank our commissioners for supporting the citizens they serve.
HB 857 and SB 385 are now working their way through the House and Senate. Members of the Madison County Clean Power Coalition (MCCPC) and the Franklin County GRP Fallout Group are spending much time under the Capital’s Gold Dome in Atlanta, lobbying and testifying before House and Senate committees. SB 385 has passed from the Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee and is on its way to the Rules Committee. A vote on HB 857, which is in Natural Resources and Environment Committee, is expected soon.
The Madison County Journal, Franklin County Citizen Leader, Oglethorpe Echo, Lake Hartwell Radio (WHLR), Georgia Recorder, Channel 2 TV, Athens Political Nerd and other media outlets have done an excellent job covering the facts and publicizing the developing story. Georgia Sierra Club, Georgia Conservancy and Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League have offered their support as well.
However the concerned citizens deserve the most credit. They wrote letters to their local newspapers, attended and spoke out at many BOC meetings, donated time and money, attended numerous public meetings, placed hundreds of Stop Burning RR Ties signs along roadsides, signed petitions, protested and are now bombarding legislators with phone calls and emails in support of the bills.
We have accomplished a lot in a short time. We still have a long way to go. Follow the legislative updates on Facebook@madisoncleanpower.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world: indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.
— Margaret Mead
Gina Ward, MCCPC Co-Chair
Drago Tesanovich, MCCPC Co-Chair
Ruth Ann Tesanovich, MCCPC Secretary and Treasurer
Gerry and Roger Wilson, Franklin Co. GRP Fallout Group