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Southern Environmental Law Center

Plant Scherer in operation at Juliette, Ga.
Gene Blythe / Associated Press

Georgia Power has found evidence that chemicals have leaked into groundwater at three of its coal-fired power plants. The utility found arsenic at plants near Rome and on the Savannah River, and it found beryllium and selenium at a plant near Newnan.

 In this Sunday, June 1, 2014, file photo, the coal-fired Plant Scherer is photographed in Juliette, Ga.
John Amis, File / AP Photo

Georgia Power will close a dozen coal ash ponds, including four inside the perimeter, in the next two years. The company plans to close all 29 of its ponds eventually; most within 10 years.  

Coal ash is a byproduct from burning coal for electricity. It can contain toxic materials, and there have been catastrophic failures of coal ash ponds in other states in recent years. There have also been instances of it leaking into groundwater.

m01229 (cropped) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/legalcode / flickr.com/photos/39908901@N06/

Offshore oil drilling could come to the Georgia coast. The Obama administration is considering allowing it in the Atlantic, and will soon release a plan that could narrow down where it would be permitted.

The Atlantic has been closed to drilling -- or even looking -- for oil for decades. Last year, the Department of the Interior said it would consider oil and gas drilling off the coasts of Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia. The next step is a draft plan, expected to come out soon, that could declare some areas, or even the entire coast, off limits.

A proposed logging plan in the Chattahoochee National Forest is drawing criticism from environmental groups. The proposal is to log about 1,600 acres and burn nearly 12,000 in an area between Ellijay and Helen in North Georgia.

The intent of the plan, according to U.S. Forest Service ranger Andy Baker, is to restore forests that have become unnaturally overgrown.  

“It's a combination of prescribed burning and commercial and non-commercial harvest operations that produce healthier forest conditions, more resiliency of the forest,” Baker said.

The Obama administration is considering opening up parts of the Atlantic Ocean, from the Georgia coast up to Virginia, to offshore oil and gas drilling. 

But according to an environmental law group, the economic projections that supporters of Atlantic drilling cite are too good to be true. 

A new report said earlier estimates provided by the oil and gas industry overestimate the potential economic benefits of drilling in the Atlantic. 

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