Rep. Mead­ows lands on in­au­gu­ral Clean 13 Re­port for work in pro­tect­ing Ge­or­gia’s wa­ter­ways

Calhoun Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Brandi Owczarz

The Ge­or­gia Wa­ter Coali­tion re­leased its in­au­gu­ral Clean 13 Re­port on Wed­nes­day, Sept. 6, which high­lights the work ac­com­plished by var­i­ous in­di­vid­u­als, com­pa­nies, in­dus­tries and non-prof­its, along with state and lo­cal gov­ern­ments that have worked to pro­tect Ge­or­gia’s wa­ter­ways.

Rep. John Mead­ows, R-Cal­houn, chair­man of the House Rules Com­mit­tee, was one of the 13 rec­og­nized for his work in pre­vent­ing wa­ter pol­lu­tion from frack­ing. Frack­ing is a process that in­volves drilling down into the earth and in­ject­ing shale with a high-pres­sure mix­ture of wa­ter, sand and chem­i­cals to ex­tract oil and nat­u­ral gas. The use of frack­ing has prompted en­vi­ron­men­tal con­cerns re­cently due to the huge amounts of wa­ter which must be trans­ported to the frack­ing site, and be­cause of what en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists say is po­ten­tially harm­ful chem­i­cals used dur­ing the process that may es­cape and con­tam­i­nate ground­wa­ter around the frack­ing site.

It was in 2015 that prop­erty own­ers around Cal­houn and Rome be­gan re­ceiv­ing calls from dif­fer­ent en­ti­ties want­ing to pur­chase min­eral rights to drill on their prop­erty. When Rep. Mead­ows be­gan re­ceiv­ing calls from lo­cals con­cern­ing the is­sue, he con­sulted the gov­er­nor’s of­fice, which iden­ti­fied gaps in ex­ist­ing laws. Dur­ing the open­ing weeks of the 2017 leg­isla­tive ses­sion, Mead­ows in­tro­duced HB 205, which up­dates the law on oil, gas and deep well drilling that was adopted be­fore the prac­tice of frack­ing.

The bill im­proves the ex­ist­ing law by set­ting reg­u­la­tions that pro­vide pub­lic in­volve­ment in the per­mit­ting process and will re­quire drillers to iden­tify and mon­i­tor drink­ing wa­ter sources near their wells.

While Mead­ows has stated that he sup­ports U.S. en­ergy in­de­pen­dence and frack­ing, he is not for any process, in­clud­ing frack­ing, per­formed at the ex­pense of drink­ing wa­ter. Mead­ows has long been a sup­porter of Ge­or­gia’s wa­ter sys­tems; he has re­peat­edly halted or amended leg­is­la­tion to sup­port clean wa­ter. He led ef­forts to im­prove the Flint River Drought Pro­tec­tion Act in 2014 and helped with strength­en­ing the Marsh­land Pro­tec­tion Act in 2015.

HB 205 did not pass through the leg­is­la­ture dur­ing the 2017 ses­sion due to an amend­ment added in the Ge­or­gia Se­nate, but dur­ing a tele­con­fer­ence on Wed­nes­day, Mead­ows said he feels cer­tain the bill will land on the gov­er­nor’s desk for approval in com­ing weeks.

“I didn’t want any­thing added to (the bill) so I held it in con­fer­ence com­mit­tee,” said Mead­ows. “We’ve re­vised the con­fer­ence re­port and I have been re­as­sured by the three sen­a­tors on that com­mit­tee that they would sign it. We will get this passed out in the first day or two of the ses­sion and get it to the gov­er­nor for his sig­na­ture.”

The 13 hon­orees in the Clean 13 Re­port in­clude:

- City of At­lanta— Stormwa­ter man­age­ment or­di­nance elim­i­nates pol­lu­tion.

- Cox En­ter­prises— Con­ser­va­tion-minded com­pany re­cy­cles wa­ter to pro­tect Chat­ta­hoochee.

- Solar Crowd­source— Decatur com­pany brings solar to small busi­nesses and home­own­ers to pro­tect mul­ti­ple Ge­or­gia rivers.

- Ge­or­gia Depart­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources—State agency re­stores and pro­tects Pauld­ing County’s Rac­coon Creek.

- Ge­or­gia In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy— Green in­fra­struc­ture projects trans­form cam­pus into model for wa­ter ef­fi­ciency, re­lieve pol­lu­tion of Tan­yard Creek.

- La­dy­bug Farms— Rabun County or­ganic farm ex­tols the virtues of rain­wa­ter har­vest­ing.

- Ma­con Wa­ter Author­ity—In­no­va­tive pipe restora­tion pro­tects Oc­mul­gee River.

- Mark Masters—Wa­ter Plan­ning and Pol­icy In­sti­tute Di­rec­tor pro­vides facts to steer Ge­or­gia wa­ter pol­icy.

- Chair­man John Mead­ows— Pow­er­ful state leg­is­la­tor takes the lead on bills pro­tect­ing drink­ing wa­ter.

- Scott Bridge Com­pany— Bridge builder uses de­sign and con­struc­tion to pro­tect en­dan­gered fish and mus­sels.

- South Fork Con­ser­vancy—Cit­i­zens or­ga­nize

CON­TRIB­UTED PHOTO

Rep. John Mead­ows

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