Public pressure is fueling a bill in the Georgia state Senate that would ban the burning of chemically treated railroad ties at two plants located in the northern end of the state.
The Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee passed the measure on Feb. 27. The bill now moves to the Rules Committee. A version in the House is expected to move to committee soon.
The bill is a direct attack on two plants located in Madison and Franklin counties. Georgia Renewable Power owns both of the biomass power plants. The facilities originally were using fresh forest material for fuel, but in 2016 a rule change allowed for railroad ties to also be used. Residents then started to complain.
Georgia Renewable Power has been cited for air and water violations, and emission tests are currently under review. The Franklin County plant was written up for particulate emissions. The power company says it is attempting to improve operations.
The Senate bill does not impact WestRock Co. in Dublin, Ga., which is located in the southern half of the state. WestRock has a permit to burn railroad ties.
The move could put the two plants up north out of business, and state lawmakers felt uneasy dividing the state into essentially two environmental zones.
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