Georgia Recorder discusses how the shift from coal power leaves state air pollution regulators short of money.
The gradual retirement of coal-fired power plants in Georgia is leaving a state program that polices industrial polluters short on cash.
Permit fees – a key source of revenue for the state Environmental Protection Division’s air protection branch – have declined and left the branch to deal with a $1 million shortfall in the new budget year that starts July 1.
And that’s on the heels of annual losses in recent years. To adjust, the cash-strapped branch has trimmed positions, phased in new permit application fees and made other changes even as it handled high-profile cases involving a cancer-causing gas at medical sterilization plants and a biomass plant burning creosote-soaked railroad ties.
“Emissions in (Georgia) have decreased significantly, which is good for air quality, but the workload in the air protection branch has not decreased as significantly,” Karen Hays, the branch’s chief, said during Tuesday’s virtual meeting of the state Board of Natural Resources.