Greenroom: August 2008

Could a cloud of summer smog have a silver lining? Something in the air has Georgia leaders doing right by the GreenRoom.

• Fulton Superior Court Judge Thelma Wyatt-Cummings announced a landmark decision invalidating a permit granted by the State Envi-ronmental Protection Agency for the coal-fired Longleaf power plant in Southwest Georgia’s Early County, stating that the permit violates the federal Clean Air Act. She also required the state EPD to limit CO2 emissions in any new power plant permit. Nationally, this is the first judge with the guts to link coal-fired power plants to global warming, an important observation as the federal administration seeks to increase coal as a power resource – and thus CO2 pollution and mountain stripping – in a wrong-headed effort to reduce oil dependency.

• The same week in June, Gov. Sonny Perdue defied public transit opponents across the state by announcing his unabashed support for commuter rail. Promising $13 million for 28 new commuter buses and support for a pilot program linking Atlanta to Griffin and Lovejoy by rail, Perdue further stated he would ask for more commuter rail funding from next year’s legislature. This year, legislators let Georgians down by refusing to pass an amendment that would have allowed regions to pass a penny tax to pay for transportation projects themselves. Whatever’s in the Kool-Aid, we’re glad some leaders are now drinking it.

• After a decade of wrangling, the Trust for Public Land announced it would purchase Cobb County’s Hyde Park, fulfilling the original owners’ wish that it be protected, despite mounting pressure from surrounding development in upscale East Cobb. In 1992 TPL bought 40 acres of the property with the condition that Hyde be allowed to continue to work the soil until he died; when that happened in 1994, his estate sued for the land. The new settlement with TPL will preserve the remaining 95 acres for some $15 million. Such prominent Georgians as Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson have voiced their support for preserving the farm, which has been left virtually unchanged since the early 1900s. – Ben Young

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