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Pipeline project in SW Georgia raising questions about environmental law compliance, P.2

Previously, we began looking at the problems with erosion that are being raised with the Sabal Trail Pipeline project in southwest Georgia. As we noted, compliance with the standards set forth in the “Green Book,” the Manual for Erosion and Sediment Control in Georgia, is part of the concern.

The Green Book contains a core set of standards concerning erosion and sediment control that must be followed at the state and local level. These are known as the Best Management Practice Standards and Specifications for General Land-Disturbing Activities, and they provide the minimum standards that bind those engaged in such activity. 

The Best Management Practices contain standards regarding the preparation of erosion and sediment control plans for both general land-disturbing activities, as well as standards concerning handling vegetation, land structures, and the design of vegetative diversion and waterway or stormwater conveyance. Not all the standards laid out in the Green Book are mandatory. In some cases, standards are advisory, while others are permissive in nature. While the Greed Book does not require buffers for wetlands, it does recommend that efforts be made to protect wetland areas, with buffers where possible.

Waters of the United States, as well as wetlands and tributaries associated with them, must be protected with “adequate erosion and sediment control” under the Clean Water Act. These waters are subject to additional federal requirements.

It is important for parties engaged in land-distrubing activities to understand the specific nature of the rules so that they can come into full compliance. Working with an experienced attorney can help ensure this happens. By the same token, those who are harmed by failure to comply with state and federal erosion and sediment control standards should work with an experienced attorney to see to it that their rights are protected. 

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