– June 1, 2022 –

It’s hurricane season

June 1 is the official start of that least festive of all seasons, the Atlantic hurricane season. We won’t see its peak until mid September, and in some years (fingers crossed, knock on wood) Georgia sees no direct hurricane activity at all. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting that for the 2022 Atlantic season that ends Dec. 1 the basin will see 14 to 21 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 6 to 10 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 3 to 6 major hurricanes. Climate change has made storms intensify more quickly and dump more rain, making them more dangerous. Scientists haven’t yet come to a consensus, however, about whether a warmer world is producing more hurricanes. Still, Coastal Georgia’s position along an embayment of a gently sloping continental shelf makes us vulnerable to some of the largest potential storm surges in the world. Residents are wise to prepare to head inland if an evacuation order is called. The storm names this year start with Alex and run to Walter. Here’s hoping none become notorious.

Credit: NASA/Unsplash

Export of Georgia’s trees

Wood pellets — compressed wood that’s burned to produce electricity — are big business in Georgia. And the Enviva pellet factory in Waycross sits atop the wood pile as the largest facility of its kind in the world. The industry has long relied heavily on its standing as a “green” fuel, a status many environmentalists consider precarious at best. Now, as WABE’s Molly Samuel reports, Europe is taking another look at subsidizing the use of wood pellets as a clean fuel. “Burning wood pellets emits more carbon than coal,” said David Boraks, the climate reporter at WFAE in Charlotte, who has been reporting on the wood pellet industry. “And climate researchers say we also should include carbon emissions from the whole wood pellet supply chain — in harvesting, trucking wood pellets to and from ports, and shipping them to Europe on diesel-burning ships.” 

BEACH ADVISORIES: As of this writing, no Georgia beaches are under temporary advisories for elevated bacteria levels.

Permanent advisories are in place for three beaches in the Coastal Health District. They are:

  • Clam Creek Beach on Jekyll Island – this area is on the back side of the island at the end of Clam Creek Road.
  • St. Andrews Beach on Jekyll Island – this area is also on the back side of the island, around the St. Andrews Picnic area.
  • King’s Ferry County Park – this inland beach area is off Highway 17 on the Ogeechee River at the Chatham/Bryan County line.
Before you head to the beach, check the link to see current notices.
Georgia Department of Natural Resources employee puts up a water advisory. Credit: Georgia Department of Natural Resources Coastal Resources Division

Coal ash questions

Georgia Power’s plans for cleaning up its coal ash were again questioned, this time at recent Public Service Commission hearings, Dave Williams of Capitol Beat reports. The utility intends to close in place some of its ponds full of the spent coal, but that would violate a federal rule prohibiting ash to be in contact with groundwater, an environmental consultant said at the hearings. And there’s a lot of the heavy-metal laden ash to be disposed. The coal ash pond at Plant Scherer in Monroe County covers 550 acres, about half the size of Sea Island.

Coal ash ponds around Plant Scherer near Juliette are under scrutiny.

Residency rule applied unequally

Last week we brought to you the story of Public Service Commission candidate Patty Durand, who Republicans drew out of the district where she was required to live and whose incumbent opponent, PSC Commissioner Tim Echols, played a role in drawing the lines. Durand moved into her newly drawn district as soon as Georgia lawmakers made the change official in March. But on the day before the primary last week, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger disqualified Durand anyway. On primary day, a Fulton judge issued an emergency stay and Durand eventually won the Democratic primary. Appeals of her case are pending, but in the meantime, there’s more. It turns out that the District 3 Democratic winner Shelia Edwards does not live in District 3. But an administrative law judge ruled that her candidacy was legitimate because the incumbent in her race, Commissioner Fitz Johnson, did not live in the district when Gov. Brian Kemp appointed him to the seat, Edwards wrote in an online Cobb County newsletter she publishes. We’re working to bring you more clarity on these seemingly contradictory decisions.

Patty Durand

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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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