Coal ash is the waste left over from burning coal. It contains toxic metals and cancer-causing chemicals. Learn more about how to help keep toxic coal ash from polluting our water.
Coal Ash Legislation Passes!
In 2020, Georgia passed its first law addressing the threats posed by the long-term storage of toxic coal ash. We should celebrate this victory while recognizing that much more must be done to address the planned permanent storage of this dangerous waste in unlined pits alongside a number of Georgia’s rivers. We need a law that requires excavation and disposal of toxic coal ash in permitted, lined landfills away from our groundwater and surface water resources.
SB 123 (Sen. William Ligon) passed the House on June 23 by a vote of 142-15, and due to minor amendments changing the effective date, received final agreement by the Senate on June 24 (39-9).
SB 123 closes a coal ash loophole that currently encourages out-of-state coal ash dumping in Georgia’s solid waste landfills. The bill would raise the surcharge that local governments can charge per ton of coal ash from $1 to $2.50, in line with the surcharge on regular household garbage.
An amendment to the bill added tangentially related language that restores the full fees paid by Georgians into the Solid and Hazardous Waste Trust Funds. Thanks to the passage of HR 164 in March, we are supportive of restoring these fees, and will be calling on all Georgians to pass the constitutional amendment in November that will ensure these fees are exclusively spent on programs for which they are collected.
While it crossed over to the Senate and was voted out of the Senate Natural Resources Committee, HB 93 (Rep. Rick Williams) ultimately failed to move out of Senate Rules and get to the floor for a vote. HB 929, which would have required long-term monitoring of groundwater around coal ash ponds, failed to receive a vote out of Senate Natural Resources.
Read more about coal ash in Georgia Water Coalition’s press release.