What’s the matter with Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources that leads it to countenance and even exempt public utilities, like Georgia Power, from cleaning up after themselves when they subject our marshes to the kind of degradation James Holland has recorded both from the air and on the ground? The short answer seems to be
“it’s a mind-set,” one that’s actually embodied in our laws.
What we see here
is, believe it or not, entirely consistent with the organization’s mission statement as spelled out here:
The mission of the Department of Natural Resources is to sustain, enhance, protect and conserve Georgia’s natural, historic and cultural resources for present and future generations, while recognizing the importance of promoting the development of commerce and industry that utilize sound environmental practices.
Clearly homocentric, the department’s mission is also oriented towards destruction, since that’s what development implies. First comes the man; then comes his commerce and industry. Preserving a healthy environment for nature’s sake is not part of the equation.
Nor is this mind-set unique to this Department. Under the aegis of the state’s executive–i.e. the Department of Community Affairs, Georgia established a number of Regional Water Councils to develop Water Management Plans. Those were then formally adopted in 2011. Now, perhaps because a five year update is in order, the plans are more readily available and the Coastal Georgia Council plan can be found here.
What is immediately striking when one consults the index of this plan is that the quality of surface waters is assessed in terms of their Assimilative Capacity. In other words, how much pollution can the waters take before their livability is destroyed? On the immediate coast, where that boundary has already been passed, the DNR solution has been to simply reclassify the waters as “recreational” — suitable for boating and occasional fishing for sport. Eating the fish, as I’ve noted before, is discouraged with warning signs.
While it seems ironic, the people, whom this homocentric agenda is supposed to protect, are actually not well served. Moreover, while water conservation programs are recommended for the populace, it is a fact that between 90% and 98% of all water usage in the Coastal Region goes to energy generation and industrial production, neither of which are of primary benefit to the local population. For that matter, as the data now reveal, forty years of economic development have not measurably improved or even sustained the health, welfare, education and longevity of the people of Georgia, whether they be natives or new arrivals.
So, why is Georgia Power running new lines for the vacationers on Sea Island? Perhaps there’s a concern that the East Beach circuit is going to be taken out after the ocean devours the Sea Island Spit and starts nibbling on Bloody Marsh. In the mean time, I suppose we can look for those rotten pallets to wash up in St. Simons’ back yards.