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Brunswick, Georgia 31521
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December 23, 2005

                     FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

For more information contact:
Daniel E. Parshley
Phone:  912-466-0934

Scott Randolph
Phone: 407-575-8276

EPA Seeking Removal of Georgia Law Protecting Property and Health

 Relying upon a two-sentence e-mail from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has decided to delete a decades-old Georgia law that protects citizens from the cumulative impact of air pollution from major polluters.      

“We have had unhealthy air for decades in Brunswick,” said Bill Owens, President of the Glynn Environmental Coalition.   “Now that the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed to hear our complaint about our toxic air, the EPA wants to change the law instead of fixing the problem.”  

Brunswick’s population is 60% minority and 28% live below the poverty level.  State monitoring found unhealthy levels of toxic chemicals in Brunswick’s air where seven schools and the local hospital are located.  “We see this continued pattern of the Georgia EPD allowing multiple polluters in the poorest African-American neighborhoods to release thousands of tons of toxic air pollution and then ignoring the cumulative impact that these polluters have on the areas,” said Scott Randolph, who has represented GEC throughout this case.  “Instead, they want to put blinders on and pretend that these polluters exist in a vacuum.” 

“We asked the Georgia EPD and EPA to limit release of toxic chemicals in air permits so our air would meet minimum health-based standards,” said Daniel Parshley, GEC Project Manager.   “Now, the EPA wants to change the law so local industry can continue polluting without regard to the overall impact on the community.  This is a shameful continuation of the Agencies' history of doing whatever is necessary to allow unregulated toxic air releases by local industry in our community.”  Before the EPA’s Title V air permitting program was implemented in Brunswick in 2002, the Georgia EPD used loopholes in the law to allow releases of toxic chemicals into the air.  When Hercules sent in air permit applications, the Georgia EPD did not issue permits.  Under Georgia law, polluting industries can operate unregulated until the air permit is issued, which is called an “application shield”.  Georgia EPD did not issue some permits to Hercules for more than 15 years, allowing them to operate unregulated.

Georgia laws should prevent injuring people or interfering with enjoyment of life at home, school, and work, but the EPD argues otherwise.  In a short e-mail to the EPA, the Georgia EPD claimed they have never used the law.  “Just because an agency has ignored the law for more than a decade doesn’t mean that it should be removed—especially through an e-mail during the holidays,” said Scott Randolph.  “EPD should send a holiday card to every citizen in Brunswick to tell them about the new gift of more air pollution that they just received from the state.”

“Why the Georgia EPD continues issuing air permits that prevent Brunswick’s air from meeting minimum health-based standards has never been answered.  We suspect the Georgia EPD and EPA did not want to answer that question before the court,” said Parshley.

“We are in a desperate fight for the economic future of our region.  Just this week the Wall Street Journal reports that large Fortune 500 firms are firing employees who will not quit smoking, over the enormous healthcare costs with which smokers burden their bottom lines. What industries, what firms, what associations will ever bring their headquarters or branch offices to Glynn County over the next few decades if we continue to have unhealthy air?" asked Owens. 

For more information about the Federal Register Notice:

Search Terms: Agency = Environmental Protection Agency
                    Key Word = Georgia

Georgia Environmental Protection Division E-mail addresses are available by calling the GEC at 912-466-0934.

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For GEC's comments on this proposed rule click here


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