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Pipeline project in SW Georgia raising questions about environmental law compliance, P.1

In our last post, we began looking at the situation of a farmer in southwest Georgia whose property has been destroyed as a result of the Sabal Trail Pipeline project. As we noted, the situation raises questions about whether the pipeline contractors are sincerely working to comply with the requirements of the Clean Water Act and the Manual for Erosion and Sediment Control in Georgia, also known as the Green Book.

The Clean Water Act, as some readers may be aware, regulates the discharge of pollution into the waters of the United States and gives the EPA authority to implement pollution control programs. The EPA has put in place various pollution control programs, including those enforce wastewater pollution standards and water quality standards for surface water contaminants.

While much of the focus of the Clean Water Act is on industry pollution discharge, the law can also touch upon erosion issues as well, since topsoil erosion can qualify as pollution in some cases, particularly when a foot or more of topsoil erodes to areas where it could cause long term environmental damage. Ensuring compliance with the law is primarily the task of the EPA and state authorities, but citizens can help in compliance efforts by filing complaints or tips, or perhaps by filing a lawsuit in cases where they have legal standing to do so.

The Green Book, or the Manual for Erosion and Sediment Control in Georiga, is specifically aimed at the kinds of issues farmers may face with projects like the Sabal Trail Pipeline. The manual is prepared in accordance with the requirements of the Erosion and Sedimentation Act, which requires counties to put in place ordinances to manage erosion and sediment control, or to be subject to state regulations. We’ll look a bit further at the Green Book in our next post, and how an experienced attorney can help those who’ve been harmed as a result of failed erosion and sediment control efforts.

Sources:

EPA, Law and Regulations: Summary of the Clean Water Act, Accessed April 3, 2017.

Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission, Manual for Erosion and Sediment Control in Georgia, 2016 edition.

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