No doubt it would be a little difficult to generate excitement for a celebratory rally with the cheer, Were not in non-attainment!
But for Columbia County citizens, the news last week from Georgias Environmental Protection Division is certainly something to cheer about - even if few people have a clue of what its all about.
Basically, EPD officials last week announced that the air in 10 counties around Georgia - including Richmond County, and others mostly scattered around the Atlanta area - will fail a new, stricter air-quality standard imposed by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
Georgia already has 13 counties - all in the Atlanta metro area - that flunk the EPAs current air-quality standards. If the EPA approves the EPD recommendations, the 10 new counties - including Richmond - would be added to that list.
The result? Like residents of metro Atlanta, the citizens of those 10 counties would have to start paying for tailpipe emissions inspections for their vehicles, and pay more for cleaner-formula gasoline. Outdoor burning would be banned, and tougher restrictions on emissions from industries and power-generating plants would be imposed.
The good news for Columbia County is that it didnt make the EPDs list. While air-quality measurements over the past couple of years showed occasional problems here and in counties around Athens and Macon, EPD officials decided tougher restrictions arent needed. For Columbia County, that means we dont have to worry about paying for auto inspections or coughing up even more money for expensive low-sulfur gas.
Thats the tangible part that every consumer can appreciate. But what may be an even bigger benefit of being kept out of what the EPD calls non-attainment is that Columbia County also wont have to add more hurdles for prospective industries to leap over.
ow, this doesnt mean economic development officials will immediately start recruiting smokestacks. Instead, it means recruiters will be able to focus on bringing in jobs and improving the countys tax base instead of obsessing about compliance with arbitrary federal paperwork.
That should make everyone breathe easier - even if its tough to convince them to cheer.
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