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Environmentalists suspect conflict of interest in new commission lineup

| Jun 4, 2015 | Environmental Law |

Those who follow environmental news and policy here in Georgia know that one of the recent developments in the area of soil and water quality is that state law was recently changed so that the Governor is now able to make appointments to the Soil and Water Conservation Commission, which used to be an independent authority.

The role of the commission, for those who don’t know, is to oversee changes to the Manual for Erosion and Sediment Control in Georgia—otherwise known as the Green Book—which is sort of the go-to resource for determining best practices concerning erosion and runoff control. The change to allowing gubernatorial appointments was undertaken on the grounds that it would help lower costs and allow businesses greater representation when it comes to water quality policy.

Water quality, as commentators have pointed out, is an issue that frequently involves competing interests, and it has been argued that the new lineup of the council is very heavily stacked in favor of business. This, not surprisingly, has environmentalists concerned and has raised suspicions of a conflict of interest.

Businesses, of course, are not necessarily always pitted against the interests of residents and environmentalists, but too often they are. When it comes to compliance with the requirements of the Erosion and Sedimentation Act of 1975—one of the statutes with which the Green Book is concerned—as well as other applicable local requirements, it is important for citizens and businesses to be aware of their rights and work with an experienced attorney in navigating the legal system to ensure their interests are advocated before the proper authorities.

In a future post, we’ll look at how the Erosion and Sedimentation Act is enforced.

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