July 30, 2008

Georgia Chamber Asks Appellate Court to Overturn CO2 Ruling

ATLANTA, July 30 /PRNewswire/ -- The Georgia Chamber of Commerce today filed an amicus brief asking the state Court of Appeals to overturn an Atlanta judge's unprecedented ruling that carbon dioxide emissions are regulated under the federal Clean Air Act.

The ruling, which has been watched around the nation, could drive up energy costs and stifle economic development across Georgia for years to come, according to Georgia Chamber President and CEO George Israel.

On June 30, Fulton County Superior Judge Thelma Wyatt Cummings Moore threw out the permit for a coal-fired power plant under development in rural Early County, Ga., on the grounds that it was issued without a limit on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

However, neither the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency nor any state environmental agency has ever taken the position that CO2 is currently regulated under the Clean Air Act. Neither has the U.S. Supreme Court, nor any other court in the nation.

In adopting the arguments of environmental activists, Judge Moore also pre-empted the work of Congress and federal regulators, who are currently wrestling with the question of whether and how to regulate CO2.

Judge Moore's ruling applies not only to coal-fired power plants, but to natural gas, oil and biofuel plants as well. If not reversed, it would severely hamper Georgia's ability to supply reliable and affordable power to its fast-growing population, Israel said.

"The Georgia Chamber has long supported alternative energy sources," he said. "But most of them are not yet ready for primetime. If Georgia wants to avoid the rolling blackouts and skyrocketing energy costs that have plagued other states, we must lay the groundwork now for a responsible, long-term energy strategy that does not exclude the energy sources that are currently available to us."

The ruling could also hold up hundreds or thousands of new construction projects in Georgia by subjecting them to costly, time-consuming Clean Air regulation, Israel said. Any sizable new building that relies on CO2-producing natural gas for heat would be susceptible to regulatory delay -- from office buildings and shopping malls to churches, schools and hospitals.

"We're talking about one judge and a handful of environmental activists tying up construction of these projects for months or years," Israel said. "Economic development in Georgia would grind to a halt. We'd be at a competitive disadvantage with every other state in the country.

"We trust the Georgia Court of Appeals will undo this ill-considered decision."

More than 100 leading businesses, trade organizations, local chambers of commerce, elected officials and others joined the Georgia Chamber in its brief. They include AGL Resources Inc., Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, Atmos Energy Corp., Cousins Properties Inc., CSX Transportation Inc., Georgia Electric Membership Corporation, Georgia Forestry Association, Georgia-Pacific Corp., Georgia Poultry Federation, Georgia Power Co., Home Builders Association of Georgia, Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, Norfolk Southern Corp., Packaging Corporation of America, Rollins Inc., Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce and Southern Co.

The appellate court will decide by Aug. 29 whether to hear the case. A copy of the amicus brief can be viewed at: http://www.gachamber.com/fileadmin/files/government/Chamber_Amici_Brief-Longleaf.pdf

About the Georgia Chamber of Commerce

The Georgia Chamber is the unified voice of the business community, aggressively advocating the business viewpoint in the shaping of public policy, encouraging ethical business practices and ensuring the state's future as economically prosperous, educationally competitive and environmentally responsible. The Georgia Chamber is online at http://www.gachamber.com/ .

   Contact:  Ryan Mahoney             (404) 403-0538             [email protected]  

The Georgia Chamber of Commerce

CONTACT: Ryan Mahoney, The Georgia Chamber of Commerce +1-404-403-0538,[email protected]

Web site: http://www.gachamber.com/