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?