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Georgia Citizens Voice Opposition to New Coal Plant

Georgia Citizens attended statewide public hearings on Tuesday to voice their opposition to Plant Washington and their frustration with the lack of public opportunity for comment.

On Tuesday, Oct. 6th, Georgia citizens gathered together at statewide public hearings sponsored by a coalition of organizations called Georgians for Smart Energy.  Residents were there to voice opposition to the proposed coal plant - Plant Washington - in hopes of getting their message across to the GA Environmental Protection Division (EPD).

In September, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division denied over 1,000 letters requesting statewide public hearings on Plant Washington’s draft environmental permits and announced that they would host only two meetings on this topic, October 6th and October 20th, in Sandersville, GA. The purpose of the October 6th hearing was to present information and answers to any questions on the draft permits. Public comment on the draft permits will then be taken at the October 20th hearing. Written comment can be submitted until October 27th. The draft permits are for air pollutants, surface water withdrawal, groundwater withdrawal, and water discharge.

No other hearings will be held by EPD on any of the permits. Unlike many other state environmental agencies, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division is limiting the opportunity for public input by holding only one hearing on all four of these critical coal plant permits. They have also chosen to only provide a copy of the draft air permit for public viewing on their website. Given the lack of public access Southern Alliance for Clean Energy has obtained a copy of all draft permits and posted them to the take action page of our website for public viewing. We consider this lack of public accessibility a severe disservice to the citizens of Georgia and hope you do too - please make sure you join us in submitting comments. The public deserves a right to engage on this critical issue.

The permits cover a range of environmental issues including, but not limited to, toxic air pollutants that exacerbate asthma levels in Georgia, depletion of the Cretaceous Aquifer - a finite water resource, and mercury pollution in Georgia’s waterways - that can harm brain and nervous system function. If these draft permits are approved it will effect air and water quality for all Georgians for the next 50 years.

The image to the left depicts the already impaired Georgia waterways from mercury pollution and overlays the location of proposed Plant Washington, which would emit an additional 106 pounds of the potent neurotoxin every year.

Frustrated with the lack of public engagement offered by GA EPD, Georgia citizens and Georgians for Smart Energy took matters into their own hands. Court reporters were present at hearings Tuesday evening in Augusta (watch the Channel 6 WJBF News Show), Macon, and Kennesaw to capture citizens comments and submit them to EPD for the public record. In these statewide hearings, over 50 individuals chose to stand up and give oral comment on their concerns regarding the environmental impacts of Plant Washington. In addition, over 200 individuals in downtown Atlanta made comments to EPD in the form of written petitions against the coal plant.

Join us on October 13th in Savannah or October 20th in Sandersville and join the hundreds of other voices in Georgia saying no to new coal in Georgia.

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“The Conspirator” Will Start Filming in October

The American Film Company’s plans for shooting a new movie, “The Conspirator,” to be directed by Robert Redford, are shaping up and will start filming in October.
The production office and a soundstage has been opened, and an open casting call was held on Saturday, Sept. 19. More than 1,000 people showed up to be cast or to serve as extras.
It will be the first movie financed by the American Film Co., which is headed by online brokerage entrepreneur Joe Ricketts, according to Variety magazine in a recent story.
The movie tells the story of the true events surrounding boarding house owner Mary Surratt, who was hanged in 1865 after being convicted of aiding John Wilkes Booth with the assassin of President Abraham Lincoln.
The movie’s released is aimed for 2011, the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War in 1861.
Booth had stayed at Surratt’s boarding house before the shooting. Seven other men were also charged. Surratt was defended by a young, 28 year old attorney who believed her to be innocent, according to the book for the movie.
Redford previously filmed in Savannah and along the Georgia coast for "The Legend of Bagger Vance" in 1999.
James McAvoy and Robin Wright Penn have been announced as the leads.
Redford will produce with Greg Shapiro and Bill Holderman of Wildwood Enterprises, and Robert Stone, Webster Stone and Brian Peter Falk, who are executives with The American Film Co., according to Variety.
Ricketts told Variety that he formed the American Film Co. “to tell historically accurate American stories,” and reported that “Pulitzer Prize winner James McPherson and Lincoln assassination experts Thomas Turner and U.S. Army regimental historian Col. Fred Borch” have also been hired to assist with the script and the production.
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Georgia Solar Tour Kicks Off

Georgia Solar Tour Kicks Off
With solar costs 30-40 percent lower than just a year ago and incentives now covering to two-thirds the costs, more families and businesses are going green to save money during tight economic times.
The Georgia Solar Tour & Festival will showcase the latest solar & energy efficient technologies and how the technology is being used to reduce monthly energy bills and carbon emissions while taking advantage of tax credits and cash incentives that help improve property values. 
According to survey results from last year's National Solar Tour, 76 percent of participants said they are very likely to invest in solar or energy efficient technology after the Tour, compared to less than 50 percent before the Tour. A stunning 74 percent of participants indicated that they had never visited a solar or green-built home prior to this event.  Last year's National Solar Tour attracted close to 140,000 people.
Michelle Conlon, GSEA’s Solar Chair, says, “We have tremendous potential in Georgia for renewable energy and energy efficiency (RE & EE), and it is important for us to consider both industries together, because, without each other the impact becomes significantly less.”
“The solar tour is an opportunity to educate all Georgians that solar is a viable energy option in our state.   Training needs and requirements, job creation potential, economic development, and manufacturing possibilities all point to an energy resource made in Georgia that we are not maximizing,” Conlon commented.
The tour kicks off at Savannah Tech Auditorium, 5717 White Bluff Rd. After a reception, the public can take a self-guided tour of local solar sites around the Savannah area. Info at www.gasolar.org
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Government Releases Final 2008 Statistics

The  U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) has released the final statistics for 2008 on the size and ranking of the metropolitan areas in the United States; the results show that the slowdown in U.S. economic growth was widespread.
Sixty percent of metropolitan areas saw economic growth slow down or reverse. Real GDP growth slowed in 220 of the nation's 366 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) in 2008 with downturns in construction, manufacturing and finance and insurance restraining growth in many metropolitan areas.
What exactly is GDP, and how are metropolitan areas defined?  GDP by metropolitan area is the sum of the GDP originating in all the industries in the metropolitan area. Real GDP by metropolitan area is an inflation-adjusted measure based on national prices for the goods and services produced within the metropolitan area; data is tracked and based on the results of 61 industries.
The metropolitan areas used by BEA for the statistics are the county-based definitions developed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for federal statistical purposes, last updated in November 2008. The OMB's general concept of a metropolitan area is a geographic area consisting of a large population nucleus together with adjacent communities having a high degree of economic and social integration with the nucleus.

Hardest-hit Regions
Real economic growth slowed in all eight BEA regions in 2008, but three were particularly hard hit—the Southwest region experienced the largest deceleration, the Southeast region slowed to no growth, and the Great Lakes region contracted.
In contrast, growth accelerated in 146 metropolitan areas, most notably in areas where natural resources and mining industries are concentrated such as Casper, Wyo., and Grand Junction, Col., Grand Junction had the fastest real GDP growth (12.3 percent) of any metropolitan area in 2008 due largely to growth in natural resources and mining. The professional and business services industry group also showed strong growth in 2008, contributing the most to real GDP growth in 112 metropolitan areas.
Non-metropolitan areas are excluded from the BEA tracking system.
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FIlm Staff Brings Money to Hotels, Restaurants

As Savannah begins drawing new feature-films to town, the movies’ casts and crews are likely to seek lodging throughout the area, giving more hotels and inns an opportunity to benefit.
The securing of accommodations has become far more decentralized, with movie companies preferring to give stipends instead of booking blocks of hotel rooms for actors and workers, said Jay Self, director of the Savannah Tourism & Film Services Department.
Production companies customarily have someone who helps scout out lodging opportunities but the selections are now much more dispersed, Self said,
Likewise, a wider range of restaurants are expected to draw film participants who will be more spread out than in the past and looking for convenient places to dine. The new arrangement “floats all ships,” Self said. “They aren’t going to go to just one restaurant.”
Accommodations have been secured for cast and crew of “The Conspirator,” a Robert Redford historical drama about the trial of Lincoln assassination plot defendant Mary Surratt that is to begin filming here in mid October. The film’s travel representative “seems to be happy with what she found,” Self said.
Catering services have also already been arranged, according to Self, who said Hollywood relies on catering companies that specialize in servicing film sets. “You have to feed 200 people at least two meals a day under a very tight schedule.”
But local food vendors and kitchen equipment suppliers will enjoy sizable business, he said.
Self projects the four months of filming of “The Conspirator” will give a direct economic injection of from $6 million to $8 million, much like the four months of the just-concluded filming of Disney’s “The Last Song” on Tybee.
As a period film, ”The Conspirator” will require a good bit of specialized construction. Along with carpenters, they’ll be a demand for transport workers, grip personnel and electricians, according to Self.
The production company’s art department will be especially busy hiring people for wardrobe preparation, makeup, hair styling and props. “Because it’s a period film, you have to do a lot more on the set than you do for modern-day settings,” Self said. “They’ll be some significant local hiring on the film.”
Like the accommodations for cast and crew, the settings will be spread out across Savannah, Self said. While much of the shooting will be done in the Historic District to help reflect the film’s setting of Washington, D.C., in the days just before  the slaying of President Lincoln, shooting will be spread throughout the area, including perhaps Fort Pulaski and Effingham County, said Self.
He said many of the scenes will be shot indoors, including “in a courtroom they are building.”
The emphasis on interior shooting means a production that is much less invasive than some others shot here, including 1989’s Civil War saga “Glory,” Self said.
Some streets will have to be converted to dirt but there probably won’t be any outside scenes like “Glory’s” portrayal of River Street as a cobblestone avenue in Boston on which a parade takes place. .
“We probably won’t see anything as large as that,” he said.
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