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15 counties must clean their air

15 counties must clean their air

ATLANTA -- Air Quality Awareness Week recently came to a close, and 15 metro Atlanta counties didn't quite make the clean air cut.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently changed its standards of attainment for ozone standards from .08 parts per billion to .075 parts.

The change means that 15 formerly compliant counties were re-designated at nonattainment for ground-level ozone: Bartow, Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, Coweta, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry, Newton, Paulding and Rockdale.

To clean up the air, residents can try carpooling to work or taking MARTA if possible; fewer cars on the roads means more breathable air for everyone in metro Atlanta.

Learn more about how to reduce emissions and cut down on ozone at www.cleanaircampaign.org.

FEMA encourages Chattahoochee-area residents to learn flood risks

FEMA encourages Chattahoochee-area residents to learn flood risks

ATLANTA -- As 2011 draws to a close, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) encourages all Americans to understand the risks that surround them -- and for residents of the Upper Chattahoochee River Region, those risks include the possibility of flooding.

FEMA worked with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to create maps of the 107-mile stretch of the Chattahoochee River between the Buford Dam and Coweta County, which includes Cobb, Coweta, DeKalb, Douglas, Forsyth, Fulton and Gwinnett counties.

These updated maps detail flood hazard and risk data with the ultimate goal of protecting homeowners from flooding.

Maps for those who live in the Chattahoochee flood region are available at www.georgiadfirm.com. Learn more about steps to prevent flood damage at www.ready.gov/floods.

Fulton County Seeks Nominees for Environmental Awards

The Fulton County Citizens Commission on the Environment (FCCCE) is seeking nominations of environmental advocates and environmental projects that exemplify environmentally-sound practices to be recognized at its annual Environmental Awards Program on April 18, 2012.  All nomination entries must be postmarked by Friday, January 13, 2012.

All submissions will be evaluated in one of the following categories:

  • Environmental Advocate -  Individual in Fulton County who supports activities that  protect the environment and exemplify environmentally sound practices
  • Best Development Development in Fulton County that implements proactive and Innovative  best management practices
  • Environmental Program Fulton County programs that focus on environmental awareness and pollution prevention

One award will be presented in the E

Deal appoints new Ga. EPD director

Deal appoints new Ga. EPD director

ATLANTA -- Jud Turner has been appointed director of the Environmental Protection Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

The DNR board made the appointment official this week after Gov. Nathan Deal nominated Turner for the post.

Turner replaces F. Allen Barnes, who is leaving to work in the private sector.

Turner is a founding partner in the law firm Turner, Bachman & Garrett LLC and public affairs firm Georgia360 LLC. He was former Gov. Sonny Perdue's lead attorney and represented the governor during negotiations with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service during the state's severe drought.

Turner has also served as general counsel to the Georgia Department of Education.

Eco-Fabulous Explored on Beltline Tour

Eco-Fabulous Explored on Beltline Tour

The Atlanta Beltline project is a diverse 2.8 billion project to renovate neighborhoods, parks and commercial space for an area of the city that will be connected by town-car (incorporating old railroad tracks).  The project incorporates nature and neighborhood's existing materials to create a neighborhood that's "eco-fabulous", as our tour guide called it. Brian Leary, the brain behind this project was a college student who was inspired by a similar plan in Paris.

Every Friday and Saturday at 9:30AM, the Atlanta Beltline hosts a free three hour tour along this beltline that highlights the circle that the town cars will transit. Currently, this Beltline tour is reserved for the next year but I was lucky enough to find a seat, due to a cancellation.

I didn't know what to expect on these tours. When I signed up I had never imagined the tour would take three hours out of my Saturday.

Drought spreads into North Georgia

Drought spreads into North Georgia

ATLANTA -- Georgia's state climatologist says extreme drought conditions have now spread into North Georgia and cover most of the state south of the mountains.

Climatologist David Stooksbury says all of Georgia's counties are now classified as being in moderate, severe or extreme drought.

In his most recent reports on the drought, Stooksbury said the outlook for relief in the short-term is not promising. Unless Georgia sees some tropical weather over the next few months, the state can expect below-normal rainfall and above-normal temperatures.

Without tropical rain, Georgia's soil is expected to continue to dry out. Stream flows, groundwater levels and reservoir levels are expected to continue to drop, and wildfire potentials are expected to remain high to extreme.

Droughts signals bad news for peanut butter lovers

Droughts signals bad news for peanut butter lovers

ATLANTA -- It's been 30 years since so few acres of peanuts were planted in Georgia.

The shortage and ongoing drought are bringing higher prices for peanuts and their favorite cousin -- peanut butter.

The acreage is down because farmers chose to plant cotton, which was commanding higher prices. It was thought plenty of peanuts would still be available, but many of the plants have not come out of the ground due to drought.

The situation has peanut butter manufacturers bracing for tighter supplies, according to Don Koehler with the Georgia Peanut Commission.

Georgia is the nation's largest producer of peanuts, producing 46 percent of U.S. peanuts.