Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Preserve Independent Judges for Our Environment

 We received an Action Alert from the Georgia Environmental Action Network this week that we think deserves your attention. Please review and contact your appropriate representatives.

Dear Friend,

Our judicial system is a cornerstone of our democracy. We rely on our courts to create a level playing field for everyone – citizens and businesses alike. Under Georgia law, decisions that affect the air we breathe and the water we drink are reviewed by judges who are expected to exercise an independent review of the facts and judge cases fairly on their merits. Now, a few special interests want to change that—and if they win, it will harm our democracy and our environment.


Senate Bill 486 would unfairly tilt the balance of power toward the state environmental agency and away from citizens and business owners who monitor its actions. This bill would affect permit decisions regarding landfills, coastal development, water withdrawals or transfers, coal plants and more.SB 486 would change the standard by which the state Department of Natural Resources’ actions are reviewed so that an Administrative Law Judge must give deference or preference to technical expertise presented by the government for every permit and every decision.
Our judges should be able to give equal weight to technical expertise presented by citizens in order to make an independent decision on the merits of a case.
Keep the law the way it is now. The current law respects the role of a judge as a neutral decision-maker who will equally weigh the facts presented by citizens or businesses and by the government. The government’s technical expertise should not be given more weight than the technical expertise presented by citizens or businesses.
Action Needed:
Urge your State Senator to vote NO on SB486 to ensure that citizens and businesses get a level playing field when appealing environmental permit decisions in the courts by our Administrative Law Judges. The bill narrowly passed committee by a close 5-4 vote and must be voted on by the full Senate this week to remain alive. Contact your Senator today.
Deadline for responding: Please take action by Thursday, March 26, 2010.

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