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Position Paper 2003:
GCG Supports Clean Air

Revised 2016

The Garden Club of Georgia, Inc. has been dedicated to preserving and protecting Clean Air since 1928. Clean air is essential for people, healthy plants, animals and pollinators.

Over many days from May to October, the air over much of the state of Georgia is dangerous for vulnerable populations to breathe. Rain transfers much of our air pollution to the waterways and earth. This acid rain is killing our forests, lakes, and waterways, and reducing crop yields. Wildlife habitats, as well as wildlife, are being reduced or are disappearing. Lakes still support fish, but EPD warns pregnant women to limit or avoid consumption of fish, due to high mercury content, which would impede proper development of the fetus.

Two main sources of air pollution in Georgia are: Vehicles for transportation (cars, buses, and trucks, and especially diesel engines), and coal fired electric power plants.

GCG believes that the following action must be taken to improve the quality of Georgia's air if we are to maintain a vibrant and forward moving economy.

  • Reduction of pollutants—Sulfur dioxide (SO2), Nitrogen oxide (NOx), and Mercury(Hg), Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), toxic heavy metals, methane, and Particle Pollutants – that are affecting the quality of the air and adversely affecting the habitat of all living things: plants, animals, and humans.
  • Reduction in the amount of Carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases released to the atmosphere, as global warming may pose the greatest risk to biodiversity in the coming century.
  • Emission caps that cap and reduce pollutants coming from smoke stacks.
  • Programs that require expanded energy efficiency and renewable energy resources like responsibly sited solar and wind resources.
  • Enforcement of New Source Review, a key provision of the 1977 Amendment to the Clean Air Act, that requires old power plants to modernize their pollution controls whenever they expand or increase their emissions.
  • Continued improvement of clean car and truck standards that help cleanup tail pipes and support for clean electric cars such as restoration of Georgia's electric vehicle tax credit.

Glossary of Terms Sulfur dioxide (SO2)—Sulfur in coal becomes sulfur dioxide (SO2) when coal is burned. SO2 acidifies lakes, streams, and soil, and creates haze that pollutes our state's wilderness and urban areas. Nitrogen oxide (NOx)—Nitrogen oxide is produced when coal is burned. Winds carry these acid pollutants far from their sources. This causes acid rain, smog, and acid gases. Nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons combine in the atmosphere to form ground level ozone, the major constituent of smog. Human exposure to smog can produce shortness of breath, asthma, and over time, permanent lung damage.

Mercury (Hg)—Mercury is a nerve poison that builds to hazardous levels when released into the environment. The chief source of mercury is power plants. When mercury enters the water, it can contaminate fish. Many states have issued warnings regarding consumption of fish from their waters.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2)—Carbon dioxide is the gas most responsible for global warming. Much of the emission of CO2 into our atmosphere can be directly related to human activity. Examples are deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels.

Methane(CH4)—Methane is a colorless, odorless, flammable gas that is the main component of natural gas.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are vapors that emanate from combustion engines as well as paint and print shops, gas stations, dry cleaners and lawn chemicals.

Particle Pollution (also known as Particulate Matter or PM), another main component of smog, comes from power plants and factories, motor vehicles (especially older diesel vehicles), and others. Particles may be emitted directly or form in the atmosphere when other pollutants react.

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