– May 17, 2023 –

Georgia reduces carbon emissions

Georgia’s overall greenhouse gas emissions declined significantly between 2017 and 2021, the Drawdown Georgia Research Team announced Monday. That 5% reduction is mostly from the use of cleaner fuels to generate electricity in the state, bolstered by the “steady state” carbon sequestration of Georgia’s forests and land sinks, like the Okefenokee Swamp.

The researchers report that while the Covid-19 pandemic-related shutdowns may have been responsible for some of the emission decline measured from 2017 to 2021, the economy grew 10% and the population grew 4% in this period.

Carbon emissions from Georgia’s electric power plants declined by more than 15% between 2017 and 2021, driven primarily by the retirement of coal plants, the shift to natural gas, and adoption of large-scale solar. Transportation is now the leading source of carbon emissions and the emerging target for deploying climate solutions, as Emma hurt reports in Axios.

The researchers say recent federal policy, including the Inflation Reduction Act, has allowed Georgia to deploy the most effective climate solutions quickly.

McIntosh boosts roadside natives

McIntosh officials last week approved a resolution that restricts both mowing and herbicide spraying along its 88 miles of county roads. The move by the county commission culminates a year-long effort by the group Don’t Spray McIntosh County to reexamine the county’s roadside spraying contract with ChemPro and improve the roadside habitat for native plants and the butterflies, bees and other creatures that rely on them.

The new plan allows spot spraying but prohibits broadcast spraying of herbicides. County resident Mark Yeager championed the proposal and was thrilled to see it adopted.

“The new mowing schedule is coordinated with natural cycles of spring and fall flowering native pollinator plants, optimizing roadside Right-of-Way land, helping to offset pollinator habitat loss elsewhere,” he wrote in a letter to the Darien News that he shared with The Current. “… And, as McIntosh County is almost 50% water and wetland, the plan adds protection of our water resources by prohibiting the application of broadcast herbicide treatment.”

The McIntosh plans come fittingly during “No Mow May,” an idea popularized in the U.K. that’s gaining traction the U.S.

“The goal of No Mow May is to pause mowing during the month of May, allowing flowers to bloom in your lawn to help early season pollinators,” the web site for Bee City USA proclaims. ” Late winter and early spring is a time when floral resources are often limited.”

A small butterwort grows along Minton Road
A small butterwort grows along Minton Road Credit: Christa Hayes

Georgia Power rate hike

On Tuesday, the Georgia Public Service Commission approved another rate hike, this one to make up for the increased price Georgia Power has paid over the last few years for of natural gas. Natural gas accounted for 45% of Georgia’s total electricity net generation in 2021, according to the federal Energy Information Administration.

The increased $16 a month will be collected from Georgia Power customers over the next three years starting in June, as Emily Jones of WABE/Grist reports.

If you’re thinking that increase is just one of many on the way, you’re correct. The Southern Environmental Law Center created the bar graph below to illustrate what the average customers using about 1,000 kWh/month can expect to pay as Georgia Power seeks additional hikes with the long anticipated completion of the nuclear expansion at Plant Vogtle.

Credit: Southern Environmental Law Center

Of note

• U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter put his 471-acre Camden County property up for sale in April, just months after the Georgia Supreme Court upheld a citizen referendum that quashed plans for a county-backed spaceport less than 10 miles up the road. Carter, once a vocal spaceport proponent, said the undeveloped land was bought as a place to hunt and fish, not as an investment. Still, the asking price is more than twice the $2.05 million he bought it for in 2018, as The Current’s Mary Landers reports.

• Sea turtles may be Georgia’s dune divas, but they aren’t the only coastal turtles. The Wildlife Resources Division of the Department of Natural Resources is reminding drivers from Camden to Chatham to be on the lookout for marsh terrapins crossing coastal roads in search of high ground to lay their eggs. The key driving tip to save terrapins: Don’t tailgate. The first vehicle can usually avoid hitting terrapin, but a vehicle following to closely can’t react quickly enough to steer away safely.

Near Tybee and Jekyll islands, drivers urged to watch for terrapins
Near Tybee and Jekyll islands, drivers urged to watch for terrapins Credit: Rick Lavender/DNR

• As the Plant Vogtle expansion near Augusta approaches completion, ratepayers can keep an eye on the new reactors at a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission web site that compiles the self-reported status of each reactor in the country. Click “Subscribe to Page Updates” to get email notifications about production at Vogtle 3 and 4. Vogtle 3 reached 25% power on April 2, but quickly returned to 0%. The in-service date for Unit 3 is projected to be this month or next. Vogtle 4 is not online yet.

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