State Rep. Jeff Jones doesn’t appear to be willing to back down from something in which he believes, and we are happy to see it.
After trying last year to push through two bills that would change the way entities are required to notify the public about coal ash storage, Jones is at it again. A year ago, language in the bill did not jibe with the interests of Georgia Power and the state Environmental Protection Division. His bills ended up stuck in subcommittee and essentially died after crossover day.
This year, it seems things may be on the proper track. House Bill 880 would mean “full public notice” would have to be given before a public landfill could begin accepting coal ash, the nasty stuff leftover after coal-fired energy production.
The other bill, House Bill 879, would require entities to provide proper notice to the public before a dewatering process begins in coal ash ponds.
Ideally, we would not even have to worry about either of these bills. Coal ash is known to have some pretty toxic elements in it, like heavy metals. Many people say it poses a real risk to our environment.
New regulations require all wet coal ash ponds to be drained and dry storage ponds to be excavated and moved to a landfill. Jones is right to seek additional requirements that the public be properly notified when these processes begin.
These ponds are sometimes located adjacent to residential neighborhoods, much like the ponds being excavated at Plant McManus in Glynn County. A neighborhood is just outside the plant’s borders, which means potentially hazardous materials could be moved around next door without the residents being aware if these bills do not pass.
“These bills ensure that, as the ash ponds are drained and coal ash is moved around and stored all over our state, we all know what is happening and the responsible parties take appropriate precautions to keep us safe,” Jones told The News recently.
That sounds better than the alternative. This time around, Jones has bipartisan support from several other representatives around the state, including fellow Glynn County Rep. Don Hogan, R-St. Simons Island.
We hope to see these bills pass this session.