The Georgia Conservancy will advocate for energy programs, resources, and policies that are sustainable and protective of Georgia’s natural environment and the health of Georgia citizens.
Energy is the backbone of our modern lives. Among our many needs, it is central to our mobility, shelter, productivity, and leisure. With its many benefits, however, come many concerns. At present, the production and use of energy in Georgia negatively impacts the quality of our air, the quantity and quality of water in our rivers, and the health of our citizens. As a coastal state, our beaches, priceless salt marshes, and pristine barrier islands are threatened by sea level rise and increased tropical storm damage caused by global warming. Global warming also poses real and imminent risks for Georgia’s farms and forests.
Fortunately, Georgia has many opportunities to change how we produce and use energy that will improve our environment and strengthen and diversify our economy. In fact, with its vast commercial forest and agricultural resources, Georgia is poised to be a leader in the inevitable transition to cleaner, renewable energy sources. In short, in the face of ever increasing energy demands, Georgia has much to lose if we do nothing and much to gain if we create a path toward a sustainable energy future.
The Georgia Conservancy envisions a Georgia where every home, building, business, vehicle, and consumer product meets the highest standards for energy efficiency; where there are multiple, efficient, and effective modes of transportation; and where clean, renewable, and reliable sources of energy are developed, utilized and preferred over unsustainable alternatives in order to protect Georgia’s environment and the health of Georgians for generations to come.
The following principles are the foundation of the Georgia Conservancy’s advocacy on energy:
- Conservation and efficiency are the first and best sources to address Georgia’s energy needs.
- Renewable energy resources are preferred over unsustainable alternatives.
- Solutions to energy problems should lead to improved environmental and health outcomes.
The following positions guide our energy program and inform our energy advocacy:
- Economic growth and prosperity are consistent with sustainable energy production and use.
- Individuals, businesses and industry, and government all have a role to play in creating Georgia’s sustainable energy future.
- A range of solutions, including some that are transitional, is necessary to move Georgia to sustainable energy production and use.
- Every improvement, no matter how small, is important.
- Georgia should invest in and develop programs that educate individuals and organizations about energy efficiency opportunities in the home, at work, and on the road, and provide encouragement, incentives, resources, and in some cases mandates, for energy efficiency.
- Georgia should reduce its reliance on fossil fuels and instead invest in and sustainably develop its abundant biomass resources as well as other potential instate sources of renewable energy such as solar, wind, and tidal.
- Georgia’s transportation system should be linked with land use planning and should offer diverse options so that Georgians can reduce their reliance on automobiles.
- To promote the most efficient use of energy and the use of renewable resources, energy should be produced increasingly close to where it is used (such as through combined heat and power systems, localized solar systems, and using in Georgia fuel produced from Georgia resources).
- The price of energy should reflect the environmental and health costs of energy production. In moving to this more inclusive pricing, we should be prepared to mitigate the impacts of this transition on less affluent Georgians.
- Georgia should develop a strategy to address global warming that estimates annual statewide greenhouse gas emissions by activity, provides a plan for verifiable annual reductions, and specifies benchmarks, goals, targets and schedules.
- The development of new nuclear power should be considered only in combination with aggressive measures on energy efficiency and renewable energy as part of a comprehensive plan to reduce carbon emissions and only on an equal economic basis (including all subsidies and guarantees) with other low carbon technologies.