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The great slowdown

Georgia's new Energy Strategy emphasizes natural gas, oil exploration and nuclear power

When you appoint a group composed of a lot of industry insiders to study the future of energy in Georgia, it should come as no surprise that their answer to a dwindling energy supply includes exploiting gas and oil off the coast and supporting more nuclear power plants.

Due to be submitted to the governor's office this week, the State Energy Strategy for Georgia serves up an assortment of recommendations that includes expansion of electricity from nuclear generation and urging state government to get the feds to allow natural gas and oil exploration off the Golden Isles.

Critics note that the report barely mentions global warming and is replete with conservation bandages and feel-good measures that don't aggressively address looming crises in energy supplies.

"Georgia is among the worst states when it comes to extravagant use of energy," says Dave Kyler, executive director of the Center for a Sustainable Coast on St. Simons Island, a group that opposes drilling off the coast.

Between 1984 and 2004, Georgia's energy consumption grew 76 percent, and over the next 20 years the population in metro Atlanta alone is projected to balloon from 4.5 million to at least 7 million. Environmentalists say the state can no longer afford to depend on nonrenewable forms of energy, including coal-fired power plants — Georgia's chief source of energy and the biggest source of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming.

[]Chaired by Lee Thomas, retired president and chief operating officer of Georgia Pacific, the 18-member council now sends its proposals to Gov. Sonny Perdue, who reaffirmed where he stands on energy when he announced his selection of a new chief of staff: Ed Holcombe, formerly director of legislative affairs at Georgia Power.

Arthur Corbin, president and CEO of the Municipal Gas Authority, and Dennis Creech of Southface, an Atlanta-based environmental non-profit, provide a vivid contrast between the competing visions.

In testimony he gave to the council, Corbin said he wanted the report to include a state exhortation to the feds to allow natural gas exploration off the coast.

The final draft includes that recommendation. "The natural gas marketplace, developed off the coast of Georgia, will benefit from a bright supply future," Corbin says. "One of the reasons we have higher prices is we don't have the developed supply that we could have today."

Creech, meanwhile, wanted the council to at least put on the record that energy efficiency must be a chief priority for Georgia, and he unhappily confessed last week to being disappointed. "The problem is selling energy as a commodity," Creech says. "The more energy [industry companies] sell, the more money they make. The trick is to make energy efficiency the commodity, but that is a very slow process."

Fifty percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from the electricity in buildings, Creech says. If the council were serious about global warming, it could have called for tougher utilities regulations and stricter building codes. Rather than aggressively pressuring the state to shift toward more sources of alternative energy, he adds, the strategy recommends expanding nonrenewable energy, most notably off the coast.

The Center for a Sustainable Coast's Kyler says drilling in those waters would diminish the quality of life for people and devastate aquatic life. He would have liked to see in the strategy more emphasis on alternative energy sources, such as solar and wind.

Jennette Gayer, of the advocacy group Environment Georgia, especially laments the absence of recommendations for stronger caps on carbon emissions. On the upside, she admits she's happy the council might recommend in its final draft the creation of a state-managed pot of money to encourage green projects.

Both Gayer and Rita Kilpatrick, Georgia policy director for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, doubt the Legislature on its own will be able to summon the political will for something as conservation-minded as a public-benefits fund, particularly if the money is raised through a tax on public utilities. And much of the council itself was uncomfortable with the idea.

But Gayer and Kilpatrick say they're not giving up hope.

"This has been done before, where there is an initiative set up and then when it goes to the Legislature they don't get it funded," Kilpatrick says. "The public is going to have to take this initiative and carry it the extra mile."



More By This Writer

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Rudolph pleaded guilty in federal courts to the Otherside Lounge bombing, in addition to bombs he set off in Centennial Park during the 1996 Olympic Games, and at abortion clinics in Sandy Springs and Birmingham. The Birmingham blast killed a security guard. Rudolph is serving a life sentence at the Federal Correctional Complex in Florence, Colo., known as "Supermax."

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As chairman, Smith does not hold a committee vote and was reluctant to guess how fellow Republican members would vote on the hate-crimes legislation, but he seemed to anticipate that they would get the chance.

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The bill would increase penalties for a person found guilty of any crime targeting a victim because of that victim's race, religion, gender, national origin or sexual orientation. A misdemeanor penalty could be increased by 50 percent. A felony conviction could carry an additional five years of jail time.

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??
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??
The bill would increase penalties for a person found guilty of any crime targeting a victim because of that victim's race, religion, gender, national origin or sexual orientation. A misdemeanor penalty could be increased by 50 percent. A felony conviction could carry an additional five years of jail time.

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Fort has the co-sponsorship of fellow Atlanta Sens. Kasim Reed and Nan Orrock, who says she still lives with the memory of the KKK burning a cross on her front lawn.

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Drumming up support from the majority party might be harder.

??
The fact that the bill contains a penalty enhancement for thugs who victimize someone based on national origin could capture the imagination of Republicans looking to beef up penalties for terrorists. "We know any progress will have to be made with bipartisan support," Fort said. "Protecting people isn't a Democratic or Republican issue. It's a Georgia issue."

??
The logic is that an anti-American terrorist who victimizes Georgians would be fair game to receive harsher punishment under the bill's provisions. Whether hardcore conservatives want to throw the book at a gay-basher is another matter. "We're going to take it step by step," Fort said.

??
Reed stressed that anyone can be convicted of a hate crime. If a black person violently attacks a white one and a prosecutor can show that part of the defendant's motivation was the victim's race, the bill would give that prosecutor leverage.

??
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Rudolph pleaded guilty in federal courts to the Otherside Lounge bombing, in addition to bombs he set off in Centennial Park during the 1996 Olympic Games, and at abortion clinics in Sandy Springs and Birmingham. The Birmingham blast killed a security guard. Rudolph is serving a life sentence at the Federal Correctional Complex in Florence, Colo., known as "Supermax."

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Article

Wednesday February 28, 2007 12:04 am EST
Uphill battle expected in Republican Legislature | more...
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  string(1141) "       2007-02-26T21:24:00+00:00 Transportation sales tax could jeopardize transit   Max Pizarro 1224173 2007-02-26T21:24:00+00:00  image-1There's a much-ballyhooed bill out there that would enable counties in the metro area to establish a regionwide 1-percent sales tax. The tax would be used for transportation projects.It sounds like a good idea, and has received notable backing from the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce.

    But at the very least, if the bill's language isn't changed before it moves it could prove more trouble than it's worth.

    Rep. Jill Chambers, R-Atlanta, chair of the MARTOC Committee, is worried that the bill as currently written would allow the counties to invest in transportation projects that might jeopardize Georgia's access to precious federal transportation dollars.

    The state must maintain a mix of mass-transportation measures in order to get the federal money. The bill could be a disastrous end run around rail and spell doom for Georgia's fragile record of air-emissions compliance.             13039179 1436316                          Transportation sales tax could jeopardize transit "
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Monday February 26, 2007 04:24 pm EST

image-1There's a much-ballyhooed bill out there that would enable counties in the metro area to establish a regionwide 1-percent sales tax. The tax would be used for transportation projects.It sounds like a good idea, and has received notable backing from the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce.

But at the very least, if the bill's language isn't changed before it moves it could prove more...

| more...
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Wednesday February 14, 2007 05:58 pm EST

Gov. Sonny Perdue issued the following statement Tuesday regarding the passing of Congressman Charlie Norwood:

"Mary and I extend our deepest sympathies to Gloria and the entire Norwood family. Gloria has been an incredible example of strength and dedication to us all as she stood by Charlie's side.

"Charlie cared for his constituents in the same way he cared for his patients as a...

| more...
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  string(4380) "As Georgia's first Republican lieutenant governor, Casey Cagle is already in a good position to win the governor's seat in this reddest of red states in 2010.

??
When he beat right-wing darling Ralph Reed last year to win the GOP nomination, he did so by running to Reed's left. Even though Georgia is now solidly Republican, Cagle has worked to build his likability quotient beyond the boundaries of his own party.

??
And his maneuvering has paid off. Rather than the contentious legislative session many envisioned, this year's General Assembly has so far been rather tame. "We're having a lovefest with the lieutenant governor," admitted Sen. Steve Henson, D-Tucker.

??
Earlier this month, the Charter Systems Act, championed mightily by Cagle all throughout the campaign last year, passed by a huge margin. Only two Democrats voted against the bill, which enables school districts to set up governing bodies to become parent-run charter school districts.

??
The vote was a political culmination of a months-long Cagle charm offensive.

??
It started with his tender-loving ads in the general election last fall when he referred to opponent Jim Martin as "a good man" — which stood in stark contrast to the bitter governor's race. Then there was his appearance at the annual meeting of the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials. His presence at the nearly all-Democratic Party function way down in Waycross turned some heads back then. Now the minority party sees it's a matter of course with him.

??
As lieutenant governor, Cagle shrewdly appointed Democratic state Sen. David Adelman from Decatur to chair the Urban Affairs Committee, a move that pacified Atlanta lawmakers. He also appointed Democrats to two other committee chairs. He publicly cautioned members of his party about their plans to impose regressive taxes. With his cautious approach to tax-reform talk, Cagle took a more conservative path than House Speaker Glenn Richardson, R-Hiram, his counterpart in the House who trumpeted a flat tax in the lead-up to the session.

??
In the Senate, Cagle has overall shown respect toward the opposition when he really doesn't have to, as the Republicans enjoy a 34-22 majority.

??
While cultivating friends among Democrats, Cagle has laid the groundwork to run for governor as a moderate Republican who can cross party lines.

??
"Maybe Casey Cagle has hit the right chord," says Dr. William Boone, a political science professor at Clark Atlanta University. "He moves in a conservative way. He is a conservative. But he's not a vociferous conservative, and that may be the approach to which Democrats and Republicans both are responding."

??
He already proved his "moderate" mettle when he vanquished Ralph Reed, the poster boy for the hard right, in the Republican primary last year. Part of his bipartisan effectiveness as lieutenant governor comes from showing Democrats he's not merely cordial, but also willing to be flexible on some issues.

??
Boone says Cagle demonstrated that early in the session when he backed away from trying to pass the voter identification law, which most Democrats criticize as discriminatory toward the poor and the elderly. When he realized he didn't have the votes, Cagle decided not to press the issue and, instead, chose to focus on other legislation, such as the Charter Systems Act.

??
But given the "lovefest" nature he has fostered in the Senate, another question is whether the affable Cagle will alienate hard-line, right-wing members of his own party.

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Former state Sen. Chuck Clay, R-Marietta, who is also a former GOP chairman, doesn't think he will. There's a big difference between the protocol of the Senate and the passion of the campaign trail, Clay says. A good politician can navigate effectively in both worlds.

??
"He enjoys the competition of ideas without taking it personally," Clay says of Cagle. "That's the way Pierre Howard behaved when he was lieutenant governor."

??
This month, just before the Senate approved school vouchers, Cagle repeatedly cracked up the chamber at-large with his sympathetic line to legislators trying to inject their last-minute arguments as the seconds remaining to vote ticked down. "I'm sure the gentleman is very passionate about what he speaks," he said in his soothing voice.

??
Cagle was having fun up there on the rostrum, and he was winning."
  ["tracker_field_contentWikiPage_raw"]=>
  string(4375) "As Georgia's first Republican lieutenant governor, Casey Cagle is already in a good position to win the governor's seat in this reddest of red states in 2010.

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And his maneuvering has paid off. Rather than the contentious legislative session many envisioned, this year's General Assembly has so far been rather tame. "We're having a lovefest with the lieutenant governor," admitted Sen. Steve Henson, D-Tucker.

??
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The vote was a political culmination of a months-long Cagle charm offensive.

??
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??
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??
In the Senate, Cagle has overall shown respect toward the opposition when he really doesn't have to, as the Republicans enjoy a 34-22 majority.

??
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??
"Maybe Casey Cagle has hit the right chord," says Dr. William Boone, a political science professor at Clark Atlanta University. "He moves in a conservative way. He is a conservative. But he's not a vociferous conservative, and that may be the approach to which Democrats and Republicans both are responding."

??
He already proved his "moderate" mettle when he vanquished Ralph Reed, the poster boy for the hard right, in the Republican primary last year. Part of his bipartisan effectiveness as lieutenant governor comes from showing Democrats he's not merely cordial, but also willing to be flexible on some issues.

??
Boone says Cagle demonstrated that early in the session when he backed away from trying to pass the voter identification law, which most Democrats criticize as discriminatory toward the poor and the elderly. When he realized he didn't have the votes, Cagle decided not to press the issue and, instead, chose to focus on other legislation, such as the Charter Systems Act.

??
But given the "lovefest" nature he has fostered in the Senate, another question is whether the affable Cagle will alienate hard-line, right-wing members of his own party.

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Former state Sen. Chuck Clay, R-Marietta, who is also a former GOP chairman, doesn't think he will. There's a big difference between the protocol of the Senate and the passion of the campaign trail, Clay says. A good politician can navigate effectively in both worlds.

??
"He enjoys the competition of ideas without taking it personally," Clay says of Cagle. "That's the way Pierre Howard behaved when he was lieutenant governor."

??
This month, just before the Senate approved school vouchers, Cagle repeatedly cracked up the chamber at-large with his sympathetic line to legislators trying to inject their last-minute arguments as the seconds remaining to vote ticked down. "I'm sure the gentleman is very passionate about what he speaks," he said in his soothing voice.

??
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??
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??
And his maneuvering has paid off. Rather than the contentious legislative session many envisioned, this year's General Assembly has so far been rather tame. "We're having a lovefest with the lieutenant governor," admitted Sen. Steve Henson, D-Tucker.

??
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??
The vote was a political culmination of a months-long Cagle charm offensive.

??
It started with his tender-loving ads in the general election last fall when he referred to opponent Jim Martin as "a good man" — which stood in stark contrast to the bitter governor's race. Then there was his appearance at the annual meeting of the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials. His presence at the nearly all-Democratic Party function way down in Waycross turned some heads back then. Now the minority party sees it's a matter of course with him.

??
As lieutenant governor, Cagle shrewdly appointed Democratic state Sen. David Adelman from Decatur to chair the Urban Affairs Committee, a move that pacified Atlanta lawmakers. He also appointed Democrats to two other committee chairs. He publicly cautioned members of his party about their plans to impose regressive taxes. With his cautious approach to tax-reform talk, Cagle took a more conservative path than House Speaker Glenn Richardson, R-Hiram, his counterpart in the House who trumpeted a flat tax in the lead-up to the session.

??
In the Senate, Cagle has overall shown respect toward the opposition when he really doesn't have to, as the Republicans enjoy a 34-22 majority.

??
While cultivating friends among Democrats, Cagle has laid the groundwork to run for governor as a moderate Republican who can cross party lines.

??
"Maybe Casey Cagle has hit the right chord," says Dr. William Boone, a political science professor at Clark Atlanta University. "He moves in a conservative way. He is a conservative. But he's not a vociferous conservative, and that may be the approach to which Democrats and Republicans both are responding."

??
He already proved his "moderate" mettle when he vanquished Ralph Reed, the poster boy for the hard right, in the Republican primary last year. Part of his bipartisan effectiveness as lieutenant governor comes from showing Democrats he's not merely cordial, but also willing to be flexible on some issues.

??
Boone says Cagle demonstrated that early in the session when he backed away from trying to pass the voter identification law, which most Democrats criticize as discriminatory toward the poor and the elderly. When he realized he didn't have the votes, Cagle decided not to press the issue and, instead, chose to focus on other legislation, such as the Charter Systems Act.

??
But given the "lovefest" nature he has fostered in the Senate, another question is whether the affable Cagle will alienate hard-line, right-wing members of his own party.

??
Former state Sen. Chuck Clay, R-Marietta, who is also a former GOP chairman, doesn't think he will. There's a big difference between the protocol of the Senate and the passion of the campaign trail, Clay says. A good politician can navigate effectively in both worlds.

??
"He enjoys the competition of ideas without taking it personally," Clay says of Cagle. "That's the way Pierre Howard behaved when he was lieutenant governor."

??
This month, just before the Senate approved school vouchers, Cagle repeatedly cracked up the chamber at-large with his sympathetic line to legislators trying to inject their last-minute arguments as the seconds remaining to vote ticked down. "I'm sure the gentleman is very passionate about what he speaks," he said in his soothing voice.

??
Cagle was having fun up there on the rostrum, and he was winning.             13023827 1265802                          Lt. Gov. Cagle and the gavel "
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Article

Wednesday February 14, 2007 12:04 am EST
Republican uses honeymoon phase to foster 'lovefest' at the Gold Dome | more...
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Article

Tuesday February 13, 2007 11:09 pm EST

As we wrote a couple of days ago, '08 presidential contender Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, already has organization in Georgia.

Today he formally announced his candidacy, and Ric Mayfield, who runs Georgians for Romney, watched the speech on Romney's website.

"I thought he did a pretty good job," Mayfield says.

The Georgia Republican committed to Romney based...

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