GSU distinguished art professor Pam Longobardi photographs ocean debris at Point Banks Bay in southwest Alaska as part of the Gyre expedition in 2013.
Image credit: Kip Evans and the Anchorage Museum

GSU art professor helps resculpt Alaska’s plastic ocean trash for CDC museum art

Beach season alert: The persistence of marine debris, carried by enormous ocean currents, inspired the provocative sculptures and assemblages at the odd museum in CDC headquarters. If you swim in the ocean or admire its immense power, seek out “Gyre: The Plastic Ocean” before it closes June 16 at the David J. Sencer CDC Museum. GSU distinguished art professor Pam Longobardi fashioned a giant cornucopia titled “Dark and Plentiful Bounty,” the largest and most complex sculpture of her career. It features only a fraction of the tons of trash gathered from remote inlets in Alaska—garbage that became the palette for the 25 artists in this exhibit.

Maria Saporta is not happy about Georgia's recent changes to its electric vehicles tax credit.
Credit Dan Raby / WABE

Georgia’s electric vehicle market hits legislative potholes

Original Story by Maria Saporta on WABE

Maria Saporta is not happy about Georgia's recent changes to its electric vehicles tax credit. Credit Dan Raby / WABE

Maria Saporta is not happy about Georgia’s recent changes to its electric vehicles tax credit.
Credit Dan Raby / WABE

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Georgia rarely ranks as one of the top states in the country for something positive.

But with electric vehicles, Georgia has been leading the way.

Mayor Kasim Reed boasted that last year we were first in America in the sale of the plug-in Nissan Leaf.

Electric cars were catching on in Georgia largely because the state has had a $5,000 tax credit for electric vehicles.

But in its “wisdom” – and that is in quotation marks – the 2015 Georgia General Assembly did away with the tax credit.

And to make matters worse, it also added a $200 annual registration fee on all alternative-fuel vehicles – that includes plug-in electrics, natural gas and propane powered vehicles.

So in the blink of one session, Georgia has gone from having one of the best programs for electric vehicles in the country to the absolute worse.

Only five states charge an annual registration fee for electric vehicles, and the most they charge is $100. Georgia will charge twice that much.

Congratulations Georgia. You have done it again.

As Don Francis, a leading advocate for electric vehicles in Georgia said after the session: “We were one of the best states, and now we’re the worse. We can’t stand being number 2. We want to be 49.”

Georgia originally passed the electric vehicle tax credit to encourage the adoption of the transportation mode in the state and to offset the higher costs of the technology of battery-powered vehicles.

The benefits are seen as multifold. Electric vehicles are cleaner for the environment because they do not emit carbon dioxide into the air. And they do not rely on gas that is imported from out of the state.

Because Georgia has become such a magnet for electric vehicles, a whole new industry has been developing in the state – new dealerships, suppliers, recharging stations and manufacturers.

So thank you state legislators. We actually were proud of Georgia for leading the way  in adopting electric vehicles.

And now, we can kiss our leading edge good-bye.

Alligator snapping turtle

Poachers may be taking alligator snapping turtles, which can bring $10,000 each

Poachers may be to blame for the slow recovery of alligator snapping turtles in Georgia, according to the Georgia Department of Wildlife.

Wildlife researcher Rachel King reported that people she met on the Flint River during her survey of snappers last summer complained about the turtles being protected. They told her snappers are good to eat, according to a DNR statement.

lg watkinsville woods_gaplanning

New park helps small city’s residents discover ‘greene’ space and forgotten son of the New South

This week guest contributor BRIAN BRODRICK, city councilman in Watkinsville and Georgia Humanities board member, calls for the memory of Atticus Haygood to be pulled from the shadow of New South spokesman Henry Grady and brought out to our public space.

The name — Atticus Greene Haygood — conjures images of To Kill a Mockingbird and old Georgia, which are both appropriate.

Hemphill Water Treatment Plant

Mayor Reed’s office responds to report on proposed sustainability ordinance

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s administration has what it describes as, “serious concerns over the accuracy of claims made,” in a March 24 report of an Atlanta City Council committee meeting on the administration’s proposed sustainability program for commercial buildings. The following is the complete text of a column produced by Denise Quarles, director of the city’s Office of Sustainability, in response to the story:

Chattahoochee River past, present: Two speakers part of Paddle Georgia

Two local authorities are on deck to talk about the past and present roles of the Chattahoochee River in as part of the annual Paddle Georgia festival.

The speakers are Tom Baxter, a political correspondent with SaportaReport, and Clarke Otten, a Civil War historian who focuses on Sandy Springs and overlooked aspects of the war – such as how the Union army crossed the river.

The free events are scheduled June 23 and 24 along the banks of the river at Riverview Landing, a former industrial tract in Mableton that’s to be retooled into a mixed-use community by the company redeveloping Ponce City Market in Atlanta.

Georgia River Network honors efforts to conserve state’s waterways

The Georgia River Network has issued three awards to recognize efforts to conserve Georgia’s waterways.

The non-profit organization may best be known for its annual Paddle Georgia event, which this year is covering 115 miles from Buford Dam to Franklin. The awards program, now in its 10th year, acknowledges the work it takes to protect the state’s waters and riverbanks.

This year’s awards were won by the Yellow River Water Trail group, in Porterdale; Ogeechee Riverkeeper Emily Markesteyn, in Savannah; and Satilla Riverkeeper Clay Montague, in Waverly. They were presented April 5 at an event at the Chattahoochee Nature Center, in Roswell.

Georgia DNR board defers consideration of plan intended to expand hog farming across state

Environmentalists are praising a decision by state officials to delay consideration of a proposal to ease regulations on hog farming.

“We applaud the DNR Board for helping to put a stop to the shortsighted rollback,” Chris Manganiello, policy director for Georgia River Network, said in a statement.

The state decided to pull the proposal for further review following the large number of public comments received, most of them negative, DNR spokesman Kevin Chambers said Monday. An additional public notice will be released if the department decides to pursue the proposal, Chambers said.

Sustainable wedding: Altar in a pecan orchard draws farmers from near, far

This is the conclusion of our three-part series on Georgia’s sustainable food movement. Links to previous stories are at the bottom of this report.

Gordon – Farm weddings are all the rage these days, but that’s not why Chelsea Losh and Bobby Jones chose a rustic setting.

They live and work on Babe+Sage Farm. These two graduates of Georgia College have worked since summer 2011 to reclaim the old Oetter place and grow it into a sustainable vegetable farm.

Their wedding celebration showed that they have grown a way of life, as well. Friends traveled from farms as far as West Virginia and as near as Sparta. And there was a surprising link involving relatives in Alabama and the Jenny Jack Sun Farm in Pine Mountain.

Rain threatened to dampen the Losh-Jones wedding day, Nov. 23. There never was any real question the venue would be moved from an altar in a pecan orchard, a reception at a barn, and dinner and dancing on a field near the farmhouse.

Sustainable policies: New regulations may affect backyard farmers, organic growers as rules chase market

Editor’s Note: This is the second story in our three-part series on Georgia’s sustainable food movement. The series concludes Thanksgiving Day with a visit to a farm-to-table wedding.

People should be allowed to grow food for their own consumption on their own property. At least, that’s the theory behind legislation pending in Atlanta City Hall and the Georgia General Assembly.

“Especially during these hard economic times, people ought to be able to raise their own food in their own yard,” said state Rep. Karla Drenner (D-Avondale Estates), who sponsored House Bill 618.

Sustainable packaging: The food container is just as important as the edible contents it transports

Editor’s Note: This is the first story in our three-part series on Georgia’s sustainable food movement. The second story will explore the state of the current sustainable food industry. The conclusion will visit a farm-to-table wedding.

Consumer criticism of the basic styrofoam cup once dimmed the future of Freshens, the large Atlanta-based yogurt and smoothie company.

Freshens’ ditched those non-degradable cups and replaced them with totally compostable ones in a dramatic example of the evolution in food packaging, according to Christian Hardigree, a professor at Kennesaw State University.

Proposal that could expand hog farming, waste lagoons in Georgia draws fire from environmentalists

A proposal that could increase the number of hogs farmed in Georgia is drawing criticism from environmentalists concerned about hog excrement.

Hogs produce a lot of waste – about four times that of a human. The current practice for handling hog waste on industrial-scale farms is to store it in earthen basins, called lagoons, until it can be sprayed on surrounding lands.

The concerns raised by the Georgia Water Coalition involve the handling of this amount of waste in this manner. They point to the experience in North Carolina, where heavy rains from a hurricane in 1999 caused lagoons to flood and fail, spreading millions of gallons of hog waste that found its way into rivers and private water wells.