– April 13, 2020 –

The work of government involves plenty of press conferences, meetings and hearings. In fact, the Georgia Public Service Commission held 18 hours of hearings last week about Georgia Power. Luckily, you don’t have to slog through any of these assemblies, because reporters around the state did. Of course, if you want to watch the PSC hearings, we won’t judge; there’s even a link below.

Spaceport courts investors

A boutique financial services firm that caters to “ultra high net worth individuals” last week pitched its services to Camden County, where the median household income is about $61,000. If selected, Florida-based Spearhead plans to court investors to team up with Camden on its Spaceport project. The county will be looking at other firms, too, but Spearhead was the first that was willing to be public about its involvement.

Meanwhile, the county continues its legal efforts to invalidate the referendum in which voters said “no thanks” to buying the rocket launching facility. That case is expected to go before the state Supreme Court in the summer at the earliest.

And there’s a new player in this story. Atlanta-based Organic Capital bought the former Bayer property adjacent to the planned Spaceport Camden. A company manager says they have nothing to do with spaceport, but the Federal Aviation Administration considers Organic Capital’s new property as part of the “buffer zone” for the rocket launches.

Spaceport site
Potential site of Spaceport Camden Credit: Spaceport Camden

Golf heats up

The folks at the nonprofit Climate Central have a knack for putting climate change in very relatable terms.

“Since Tiger Woods played in his first Masters golf tournament 27 years ago, the spring climate in Augusta has warmed 1.4°F,” wrote Climate Central’s Pete Girard in an email to The Current. “In the next three decades, expect another 3°F of warming.”

Yikes. The hotter weather will make the golf ball travel farther but that’s cold comfort if you’re having heatstroke.

Relatable climate change facts have also been top of mind lately for Savannah Mayor Van Johnson. “Seventy percent of our major flooding events along the Georgia coast have occurred here since 2015,” he said at a press conference Tuesday calling for the U.S. Senate to pass $550 billion in climate change and environment funding.

Coal ash

Four coal ash ponds Georgia Power plans to close in place will continue to expose ash to groundwater after the closures are completed, an executive with the utility disclosed last week.

Coal ash contains toxic components including heavy metals. Georgia Power’s director of environmental affairs testified on the second of two days of hearings before the state Public Service Commission on a plan the utility submitted in January outlining the mix of energy sources it intends to rely on for power generation during the next 20 years. Capital Beat’s Dave Williams reports.

The recent PSC hearings, 18 hours in all, are available to view on Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/georgiapublicservicecommission.

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

Golden Ray legacy

The shipwrecked Golden Ray is gone but not forgotten. A charter fishing boat captain says he’s still feeling the effects as pollution is forcing him to fish farther away from St. Simons Sound. Environmentalists like the Altamaha Riverkeeper agree that the state underestimated the damage done, reports Stanley Dunlap with the Georgia Recorder. They support Glynn County’s lawsuit seeking damages from the Golden Ray’s owner-operator and salvage company for cleanup costs, lost tourism dollars, damage to natural resources, and diminished property values resulting from the wreck and lengthy recovery.

Golden Ray crane lifts last piece
The last large section of the Golden Ray lists on its side in St. Simons Sound last October. Credit: Beau Cabell/For The Current

If you have feedback, questions, concerns, or just like what you see, let us know at thecurrentga@gmail.com.

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Camden moves forward with plans for its spaceport despite a recent vote against it.

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Climate change effects in Savannah, including more flooding, provoke a call for funding for solutions from the U.S. Senate.

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Georgia Power exec: Closing coal ash ponds will still leave contaminated groundwater

Four coal ash ponds Georgia Power plans to close in place will continue to expose ash to groundwater after the closures are completed, an executive with the utility disclosed this week.

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New fight emerges over Golden Ray shipwreck damages off Georgia coast

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Mary Landers is a reporter for The Current in Coastal Georgia with more than two decades of experience focusing on the environment. Contact her at mary.landers@thecurrentga.org She covered climate and...