– August 10, 2022 –

Aquatic robots gather storm data

We’ve seen only three named storms so far this Atlantic hurricane season. But hurricane activity typically ramps up around now, peaking in mid-September. Oceanographer Catherine Edwards knows this and sent out two drones last week from Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary to collect data on water temperature, salinity and a host of other factors, as The Current’s Mary Landers reports. (These are sailing and swimming robots, not the flying kind.) Edwards and others gather the data to feed into hurricane models, leading to better predictions of how strong these storms will be, how quickly they’ll spin up and even what track they’ll take. It’s info that will be critical to coastal Georgians if we’re forced to deal with any of the coming storms from Danielle through Walter.

Gray's Reef
Technicians from the University of Georgia Skidaway Institute of Oceanography prepare to release an underwater glider next to the Saildrone at Gray’s Reef. Credit: Jeffery Glover/The Current GA

Ballet of the ballot

With primaries long over it should be clear by now what and who will be on the November ballot in Georgia. That’s not the case. Instead, an often overlooked down-ballot race for the state’s utility regulators is in limbo. A federal judge on Friday ordered this year’s two Public Service Commission races off the ballot because the at-large voting system Georgia uses to elect these positions violates the federal Voting Rights Act. On Monday Georgia asked for a stay of that order so that the District 2 and 3 PSC races could return to the ballot while the state’s appeal proceeds. Incumbent Commissioners Tim Echols and Fitz Johnson, who are in those seats, have been mum on the issue. Echols’ would-be Democratic opponent Patty Durand is still waiting for a court decision about her eligibility based on her residency, which is in question after Republicans redrew the district lines just days before the qualifying deadline. If Durand is ineligible and the state prevails in getting the race back on the ballot, then Democrats will have to name a replacement for Durand. The deadline Georgia election officials have set for preparing November ballots is August 12.

single vote sticker

A hurdle for EVs

The Inflation Reduction Act doesn’t sound like a climate bill, but it invests $369 billion in energy security and battling climate change. Democrats in Congress say that investment will lower energy costs, increase cleaner production, and reduce carbon emissions by roughly 40 percent by 2030. It passed the Senate Sunday and is expected to pass the House by the end of the week. Environmentalists have been almost giddy about the bill, though some details are proving worrisome. As The Conversation reports, the legislation aims to make electric vehicles more affordable by extending and expanding the tax credits on new and used EVs. Trouble is, some of the bill’s fine print about where the vehicles are built and where the raw materials in the batteries are mined may disqualify many vehicles.

A Tesla charges at Tybee Island’s North Beach parking lot Credit: Mary Landers/The Current

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Drones patrol off Georgia for hurricane data

UGA Skidaway Institute launches robots to gather data to better predict hurricanes

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Federal trial starts claiming Black voters disenfranchised by Georgia PSC elections

Attorneys for the plaintiffs Monday laid out plans to prove that the state’s systemic racial dilution violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Black Georgians  represent more than 30% of the voting age population, yet have not had a candidate they overwhelmingly support elected in the last decade.

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Court rules PSC residency rule doesn’t block Democrat Edwards from ballot

Edwards does not live in District 3, which includes Fulton, DeKalb and Clayton counties. Edwards lives in Cobb County, which sits in another district, and says she will relocate if elected.

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Last minute election snafu in Georgia’s public service commissioner race

Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State disqualified PSC candidate Patty Durand hours before Tuesday’s primary. She claims she’s a victim of partisan politics.

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The climate bill could short-circuit EV tax credits, making qualifying for them nearly impossible

The bill requires that new electric vehicles meet stringent sourcing requirements for critical materials, the components of the battery, and final assembly to qualify for the tax credits.

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EVs in short supply, high demand in Georgia

Some dealers are charging thousands above the sticker price for in-demand EVs.

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Mary Landers is a reporter in Coastal Georgia focusing on the environment for The Current. It's a topic she covered for nearly 24 years at the Savannah Morning News, where she began and ended her time...