Senate Bill 524 Is Unwise & Unwarranted

By David C. Kyler, Executive Director, Center for a Sustainable Coast
Editorial published or referenced in several area newspapers, February 2004

Senate Bill 524 would impose unfair obstacles in the path of any citizen, property owner, or non-profit group seeking to exercise their right to challenge a state permit. By requiring a bond to be posted prior to any appeal being accepted for processing, this ill-conceived measure would make an appeal financially impossible for all but the wealthy.

Proponents of this legislation falsely claim that there has been a surge in appeal of environmental permits that needs to be squelched, despite evidence to the contrary. Records from the office of the state Attorney General reveal that, of the hundreds of permits issued, there were only twenty appeals filed against DNR in the past 12 years, and all but five of these were actions initiated by developers or property owners. It is supremely ironic that this bill is being promoted as a defense of these same interests, when it would actually penalize them by adding enormous cost when they try to get a harmful permit reconsidered.

Contrary to claims being made, this bill is not a defense of property rights, but an assault on them and on the public interest as well. Senate Bill 524 is another example of a power grab by the privileged few to gain unjust advantage over common citizens, property owners, and various non-profit groups that defend them. It should be recognized that most successful appeals provide no profit whatsoever for the winner, while the narrow interests that would benefit from this legislation make huge profits by using public resources, no matter how flawed their permits may be.

Moreover, environmental law experts persuasively argue that this measure would violate constitutional rights and breach key provisions of federal safeguards for clean air and water. SB524 would give a shameful upper hand to anyone profiting from public resources at the expense of those defending their lawful interests as citizens and property owners. Thoughtful Georgians, who will see this bad policy for what it is, are advised to make their opinions heard loud and clear in Atlanta as soon as possible.
^ Top