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Power (plants) to the people


About 80 people showed up for a public hearing in Cartersville last week concerning pollution coming from Georgia Power's Plant Bowen. Roughly a third of those were employees of Georgia Power.

The meeting was supposed to be about why the state Environmental Protection Division gave Plant Bowen a permit to operate even though the federal government is suing Georgia Power over Plant Bowen's alleged violations of the Clean Air Act. It turned more into a session for concerned citizens to vent.

Georgia Power Vice President of Environmental Affairs Chris Hobson said his company is doing its part by spending $850 million on new pollution controls at Plant Bowen that will bring Georgia Power's contribution to ozone formation in the Atlanta area down to 6 percent.

About a dozen people -- pastors, shareholders and citizens ticked off that they're breathing dirty air -- lambasted Georgia Power for fighting laws that require the company to retrofit its grandfathered coal-burning plants with modern pollution controls. Some challenged the officials present to actually lead the industry in environmental protection.

Plant Bowen is the fourth largest power plant in the nation, and the biggest polluter on the North American continent.

On May 28, EPD will hold another meeting in Macon on the permits issued to Plant Scherer, which also has been named in the EPA's lawsuit for violating clean air laws.

And after the hearings, the Sierra Club will put even more pressure on the state by targeting Gov. Roy Barnes with punchy ads that will run in movie theaters the first month the new Star Wars film comes out.

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