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Petitioning Georgia State House, Georgia State Senate, Georgia Governor, Michael Williams

Protect Stone Mountain, and the history it holds.

There is a movement to remove the Confederate Faces from Stone Mountain. With all of the violence that has come about in recent days we must move to nonviolently protect these monuments and prosecute vandals who believe in defacing them. It is important to not be blinded by the politics and remember that HISTORY cannot be racist or a bigot but only can state facts. If we destroy part of the facts is it even history anymore? Do we wanna forget about the men and women who died. Do we wanna forget about the slaves or the Confederacy? I believe once we forget it makes it far easier to repeat our mistakes? Will you stand with me to protect this Monument, not as Republican or Democrat but as an american who is proud of what we have become considering where we have come from. We are asking that you will ensure state law enforcement resources if it becomes necessary to protect this landmark. I grew up with this Monument and would hate to see it destroyed. Thank you!

Dylan Geerts
82,299 supporters
Petitioning Florida State Senate, Florida State House, Marco Rubio, Bill Nelson, Thad Altman, Rick Scott, Alabama State House, Alabama State Senate, Arkansas State Senate, Arkansas State House, John McCain, Ar...

Outlaw hog vs. dog hunting/fighting in the wild

Goal: To outlaw the cruel and inhumane practice of using dogs to hunt wild boar in Florida, as well as in the 31 others states it's currently legal or have no laws on the books.  Florida (as well as other states) has a wild boar problem. Hogs are numerous, omnivorous and have no natural predators, making them one of the largest nuisance pests in the state. There are many humane options for dealing with the pigs, which do not need to involve brutally killing the pigs or putting domesticated dogs in harm’s way. However, despite the existence of alternatives, Florida and other states have exempted the use of  "bait-dogs" in boar hunting. This practice is incredibly dangerous and very inhumane for the dogs and boars involved. Each of the 32 states that allow this practice laws differ, but Florida animal cruelty statute states:  FLORIDA ANIMALS: CRUELTY; SALES; ANIMAL ENTERPRISE PROTECTION: http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0800-0899/0828/Sections/0828.122.html 828.122 Fighting or baiting animals; offenses; penalties.—(1) This act may be cited as “The Animal Fighting Act.”(2) As used in this section, the term:(a) “Animal fighting” means fighting between roosters or other birds or between dogs, bears, or other animals.(b) “Baiting” means to attack with violence, to provoke, or to harass an animal with one or more animals for the purpose of training an animal for, or to cause an animal to engage in, fights with or among other animals. In addition, “baiting” means the use of live animals in the training of racing greyhounds.(c) “Person” means every natural person, firm, copartnership, association, or corporation.(3) Any person who knowingly commits any of the following acts commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084:Baiting, breeding, training, transporting, selling, owning, possessing, or using any wild or domestic animal for the purpose of animal fighting or baiting; (9) This section shall not apply to:.....(e) Any person using dogs to hunt wild hogs or to retrieve domestic hogs pursuant to customary hunting or agricultural practices." The exception (e) makes NO logical sense, because dogs are trained to "hunt" by chasing, cornering, attacking and fighting. So, why is it illegal to cause a dog to fight another dog, or a pig in an enclosure, but it is legal to use dogs to chase and viciously attack pigs while being trained and in the wild? Boar hunting with dogs is exactly what it sounds like: dogs trained to track and attack. They are taken out into the country, or wherever wild hogs are plentiful, and set loose to sniff out hogs. Once a hog is found the dogs will chase it down, corner, bay and attack it, usually leaving it badly injured, but normally still alive. Hunters (when they catch up) will kill the pig, usually by "sticking," which is a prolonged death vs. the use of a proper gun. Wild hogs are incredibly difficult to kill and will put up a fight until the end. Many dogs involved are wounded by tusks, bitten, trampled and sometimes killed. This is basically animal fighting, in the wild. Putting dogs in such a dangerous situation is inhumane and should not be legal. Visit http://sugarshope.org/ to learn more.  PETITION LETTER: Wild boars are a major problem in Florida and in other states. The species has no natural predators, is omnivorous and repopulates very quickly: it is because of these traits that wild boars are a force hard to reckon with. There are many control methods used, some of them very inhumane. Currently it is legal for dogs to be used in wild hog hunting. This practice is extremely dangerous for the dogs involved and leads to inappropriate practices elsewhere. Dogs involved in hunting are likely to be seriously injured by the hogs. Dogs get trampled, bitten, pierced by tusks and may be infected with diseases that pigs carry. The hogs are frightened, outnumbered and suffer a painful death.  I urge you to propose a ban on hunting wild pigs with dogs in order to put a stop to these inappropriate behaviors. Please consider other methods of wild pig population control, such as designating land for hogs to be displaced to, and controlling breeding of the species. Allowing dogs to hunt them is inhumane and unnecessary. Visit http://sugarshope.org/ to learn more.  Sincerely, [Your Name Here]  

Fara D
80,543 supporters
Petitioning Donald Trump, U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, Department of Veterans Affairs, Alabama State Senate, Alabama State House, Alabama Governor, Florida State Senate, Florida State House, Flo...

Congress: Let all children of U.S. military service members unite with their families!

I’m Jenifer Bass, a U.S. Navy veteran, who served for 10 years, one-third in the Asia-Pacific region. It was due to my travel between ports in countries like Japan and Thailand that I first encountered amerasian children, and descendants, of U.S. service members and civilian contractors previously stationed overseas. In the Philippines alone, more than 52,000-plus children were born and left behind after the U.S. Navy withdrew the last of its military personnel in 1992. Right now, the U.S. government won’t legally recognize them as U.S. citizens, despite having been born to an American parent. The Philippine Embassy won't help them either. Today, there are estimated to be more than 250,000-plus children. Many amerasians are caught in a no-man’s land of discrimination and poverty -- most left behind by U.S. service members who are unaware that they’ve fathered children overseas. My friend John Haines is one of these sailors. In 2011, John discovered he was the father of a half-Filipino daughter, Jannette. He attempted to unite with her through the American Homecoming Act -- but was frustrated to learn that the Act did not apply to Filipino children of U.S. service members. Today, all John wants is to  be united with his daughter and grandchildren. He, like so many other veterans are living with a “hole in their hearts” as they search for ways to unite with their children. There is hope. The Uniting Families Act of 2017 creates a specialized visa allowing military veterans and eligible civilian contractors to sponsor their children and grandchildren for U.S. citizenship. Blood relationship must be proven by DNA test and the total number of visas granted will be capped at 5,000 each year. The issue takes on more urgency as so many of our veterans from our wars in Southeast Asia are getting older and dying each day -- without the chance to connect, or in some cases, reconnect with their own children.  John’s daughter Jannette has already undertaken the DNA testing process, conclusively proving her relationship to her American father. All she’s waiting for is the opportunity to permanently unite with her father. There is a PBS documentary, "Left by the Ship" (2010), documenting a day in the  life and the personal struggles as a Filipino amerasian on the never ending search for identity and their struggle to connect to their American military fathers. Please sign this petition to tell Congress that these families cannot wait another day. Pass the Uniting Families Act of 2017 now!

Jenifer Bass
33,204 supporters
Petitioning Nathan Deal, Georgia State Senate, Georgia State House, Mandi Ballinger, Casey Cagle

Georgians Against Campus Carry

Nathan Deal has signed House Bill 280, which allows anyone 21 or older with a weapons license to carry a gun anywhere on a public college or university campus, except inside dormitories, fraternities and sorority houses, daycare facilities, and at athletic events.  HB 280 Was Signed. Now What? The Georgia Board of Regents controls the implementation of Georgia university policy, so it is now up to them to decide on the policy that universities will enact in response to the passing of this bill. HB 280 has many flaws and its implementation is so flawed that it is frowned upon by those on both sides of the issue. It is imperative that we contact the Board of Regents with our concerns and to voice our opinion that we believe that this law is too flawed to implement while also preserving the safety needs of our college campuses and surrounding communities. Calls to action: Write the board of regents, their correspondence addresses can be found here: http://www.usg.edu/regents/members Attend the May 16, 2017 Board of Regents meeting in the Atlanta Office:        Room 8003        270 Washington Street, SW        Atlanta, GA 30334 Note: The meeting is open to the public, but no comments/concerns will be taken during the meeting. Call the Board of Regents at 404-962-3049 and voice your concerns as a student, parent, faculty member, staff, community member, Georgian, etc. for the implementation of HB 280. Write letters/emails to Georgia university administrators; presidents, provosts, and deans of students. (cc the Board of regents members).  Please Join me in Opposition to HB 280  Special Thanks to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Evan Gillon, and Ayo Aladesanmi 

Paul Oshinski
8,311 supporters
Petitioning Georgia State House, Georgia State Senate

Stand with Survivors & Stop Georgia House Bill 51

When I was a sophomore in college, I was sexually assaulted by a student. While this was the most traumatic experience of my entire life, I was able to graduate college thanks to counseling and the academic accommodations I needed to stay in school. Because of my school and the accommodations I was afforded, I’m now attending Georgia State University College of Law where I continue to fight for survivors’ rights. But I’m afraid that student survivors in Georgia today won’t be able to thrive and graduate if the Georgia legislature passes House Bill 51. H.B. 51 would make Georgia universities less safe for students who have been raped. By stripping universities of their role in responding to sexual misconduct -- including disciplining offenders -- student victims like myself will lose access to the support we need to remain in school and to heal from our assaults. This law would mandate that professors and administration report assaults to law enforcement without the victims’ consent, leaving many students afraid to seek support. Other students will be forced to spend months and years attending classes with the people who raped them. Still others, who fear police involvement or deportation, will be discouraged from reporting at all. Reporting rates will undoubtedly plummet, and campuses like mine will no longer be safe. Additionally, members of minority communities, notably LGBTQ+ and women of color, are assaulted at the highest rates. These groups are even more reticent to report to the police and will be further denied access to education. Sign this petition to protect student survivors of sexual assault from Georgia H.B. 51. Not only is House Bill 51 dangerous, it’s also illegal. It violates long-standing protections of civil rights for women and other survivors of gender-based violence. These protections mandate schools to respond to acts of sexual misconduct, regardless of whether law enforcement is involved. If passed, H.B. 51 would fly in the face of decades of national precedent – and rape survivors will pay the price. Stand with Georgia students like myself in demanding that our legislators oppose H.B. 51. In solidarity, Grace You can stay up to date on our local efforts here: https://www.facebook.com/studentsagainstHB51

People Against House Bill 51
7,777 supporters
Petitioning President of the United States

Remove the penalty that prevents people with disabilities from marrying!

When we think of marriage equality, we think about the ongoing fight LGBT couples face, but another minority group must deal with the stark reality that they are better off living in long-term committed relationships, without marriage. Like LGBT couples, these couples are denied the right to over 1,100 rights afforded to married couples. They have been denied access into their loved ones hospital rooms, faced family disputes over wills and have been denied spousal benefits from their partners workplace or the government in the event of their partners death. These are people with disabilities. Many people rely on the government for medical and financial assistance. Without medical insurance they would have no way to live independently. They would be forced into nursing homes (some already are), which would cost the government significantly more than getting Medicare and/or Medicaid does. At the same time, this assistance comes with a price. The government expects married couples to share income and that affects any assistance the couple receives. For many, their spouse makes too much (even if they make meager SSDI payments). This cuts into the healthcare services these couples receive. For some, their able-bodied partners make too much to allow them to qualify for medical assistance, if married, but not enough to pay out of pocket for costly medical equipment, medicine, or any other needs the disabled partner has. Add in the fact that even when a person with a disability can work, the opportunity for quality medical insurance is hard to find, due to their pre-existing condition and you will understand why many couples with disabilities are forced to live in domestic partnerships. Also, if two people with disabilities marry and they are on SSI or SSDI, their payments are CUT significantly, making it hard for them to maintain independence and afford their own food, shelter, clothing or other necessities. The time to stand up is now!! Let your Senators and Representatives know you want to remove the income caps placed on individuals with disabilities, so they can keep the government assistance and still be able to get married. Every loving couple deserves the right to marry. No one should have to choose between their wheelchair and their love, their therapy and their love, their medication and their love, their ability to eat or have a roof over their head and their love!! Those are not choices!! Help make it possible for those with disabilities to share their love without being penalized!Join our fight for marriage equality for people with disabilities:https://www.facebook.com/MarriageEqualityForPeopleWithDisabilities

Dominick Evans
6,482 supporters
Petitioning Brian Strickland, Georgia State House, Georgia State Senate, Nathan Deal, Johnny Isakson, Gerald Greene, Dale Rutledge, Emanuel Jones, John Yates, Rick Jasperse

Its called Respect for the Deceased.

As a mother that has lost a child in horrific car accident on 8.20.2016 I am now on a mission to STOP news cast from broadcasting the vehicle of the deceased. There is NO respect for people's privacy anymore . I did NOT want to see photos of my child's burning vehicle broadcast-ed. This is very personal space. This is where my child took her last breath, this is where her life was taken. That was my daughter in that vehicle. These photos will and are where the deceased loved ones search for answers. So I am now a MOTHER on a mission ..Please sign and help spread the petition you never know when you might be in my shoes.

Kimberly Lee
6,124 supporters
Petitioning Georgia State House, Georgia State Senate, Nathan Deal, Johnny Isakson

Animal Cruelty Registry

I think having a registry for animal cruelty is great idea, for many reasons, this registry, will help animal shelters(TLC, Humane Society, etc) would benefit from it. Not only does it alert shelters, but it will also make animals safer. I have seen several dogs, cats, and chickens being tossed out, due to their families not wanting them, or leave them out somewhere to die.  We need to stop this, we need to have this registry, so animals who need a home, goes to a safe enviroment!

Kristen MacKenzie
3,071 supporters
Petitioning United States Supreme Court, Barack Obama, California State Senate, California State House, Florida State Senate, Florida State House, Texas State House, Texas State Senate, New York State House, N...

Get Pit Bull Breeds off of the aggressive breed list! It's the owner, not the dog!

The Pit Bull breeds, American Pit Bull Terrier/American Staffordshire Terrior/Staffordshire Bull Terrier/Bull terrior, are really misunderstood dogs. It is never the dog who chooses to be aggressive, it's the owner who makes them aggressive. Any dog, any breed can bite. Any dog, any breed can attack. If you think about it, how many times does a small dog such as a chihuahua bite? Every day, but they're not on the BSL. Pit bulls are actually a mix of terriers and English Bulldogs. Have you ever heard from someone that Pit Bulls have lock jaw? Well, that's not true. Pit Bulls just have really strong jaws. In fact, German Shepherds actually have stronger jaws then Pit Bulls. German shepards got off the list not too long ago. So why not this beautiful breed with a weaker jaw? When it comes to temperament, these breeds are actually really patient animals. They are great with family's, babies and children. So great that they were once called "Nanny Dogs." The American Temperament Testing Society has proven that Pit Bull breeds can be less aggressive than Beagles and Golden Retrievers! These loyal pups can be trained to be service animals, therapy dogs, and if you want, police dogs!  During WWII, this amazing breed was used as a symbol of bravery. They were the symbol of our great country during that tough time. All of the people out there that say Pit Bulls are mean, have clearly never owned one. Yes, horrible people fight dogs, but it's not the dogs fault. Once they are rescued, they should be given a second chance at life. It's the dog fighter who should be euthanized. Not the dog. These companions are smart, therefore they are easy to train and learn fast! They are naturally sweet, cuddly, and love their humans unconditionally.

Andrea Brown
2,887 supporters
Petitioning Georgia Power Company, Georgia State House, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)

Georgia Power, remove the Tugalo Dam

The Tugalo Dam is located at the confluence of the Chattooga and Tallulah Rivers in the headwaters of the Savannah River basin on the Georgia/South Carolina state line. It was built by the Georgia Power Company as part of the six-dam North Georgia Hydroelectric Group for the purposes of hydropower and flood control. Construction of this dam began in 1917, and after a temporary halt during WW1 it was completed in 1923. Its maximum generating capacity is 45,000 kilowatts, less than 1% of Georgia Power’s total energy production. It is 160 feet tall, 840 feet long at the top, and impounds 597-acre Lake Tugaloo. “Tugaloo” is Cherokee for “Fork of a stream,” referring to this area.  The Chattooga and Tallulah Rivers flow through the Tallulah Falls Formation, a 500 to 650 million year old mix of Biotite Gneiss, Schist, and Amphibolite within an area known as the Brevard Zone. This formation was metamorphosed during the Paleozoic period. Long ago, the topography of Northeast Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina was a completely different landscape with mountains taller than the Himalayas. The river bed today is a Geologist’s wonderland… veins of Quartz melted and mashed in giant Granite boulders and an ever-evolving patchwork of potholes and formations created by the erosive forces of the rivers over an incomprehensible time frame. At one point it flowed into the Gulf of Mexico as part of the upper Chattahoochee River, but at some point the Savannah River carved its way up into the foothills of the Appalachians and captured this river near present day Yonah Lake. The Chattooga and Tallulah rivers are an invaluable storybook of the natural forces which shaped the world we know today. The entire North Georgia Hydro Group is licensed through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), an agency tasked with safety and environmental assessments for many large dams in the U.S. The current license for the project will expire in 2036, and in the years prior to that Georgia Power and the FERC will conduct studies and cost benefit analysis, and Georgia Power could seek approval for re-licensing this project for a further thirty to forty years. Hydropower’s role in our society, our dependence on energy, and our understanding of natural resources has shifted dramatically in the one hundred years since this project began. Dam removal has become an increasingly popular and viable response to the wholesale environmental destruction of 19th and 20th century industrialization. Less impactful renewable energy sources offer us a more sustainable alternative to hydropower, coal, or fracking. As the devastating effects of dams become more obvious, more communities are adopting a protective attitude towards our lands and rivers. In 2011-2013 the removal of two large dams and subsequent stream reclamation work on Washington State’s Elwha River drew national attention and reestablished seventy miles of Pacific Salmon spawning grounds. In 2016 the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe succeeded in removing the Hogansburg Dam from the St. Regis River in New York State, the first federally-regulated U.S. dam to be removed by a Native American tribe and the first hydroelectric dam to be removed in the state. In all, seventy-two dams in twenty-one states were removed in 2016, restoring 2,100 miles of river to benefit local economy, public safety, and natural heritage. Since 1912, 1,384 dams have been removed in the U.S. Currently, four major dams are in the preliminary stages of removal on the Klamath River in California, and over 300 miles of Salmon habitat will soon flow free again. This can and should happen to some of the oldest and most harmful dams in the Southeast, and it is up to the people to say, “We want these dams taken down. We want our rivers back.” In order to fully understand the impacts of dams on our environment and people, we must look back to what existed here before dams, what was lost. The entire Savannah River basin was home to American Shad, Herring, and Atlantic Sturgeon, Anadromous species that spend most of their lives in the ocean but swim up river to spawn. Shad have been described as “the fish that fed the founders of our nation.” A report from 1899 placed the Shad at Tallulah Falls in Northeast Georgia, more than 340 miles upstream from the sea. For centuries people lived and thrived on the abundant supply of healthy fish the river provided them. Tugaloo, a Cherokee village was located downstream of the Chattooga/Tallulah confluence. Starting in the 1800’s people began to divert the lower Savannah into manmade channels for mills and to create passage for cargo ships. Hydropower first came to the river in 1913 with the completion of the Tallulah Dam, the largest ever built at that time, and the rest of the North Georgia Hydro Group over the next fourteen years. In one of the most famous environmental cases in Georgia’s history, Helen Dortch Longstreet and the Tallulah Falls Conservation Association led a bitter and unsuccessful legal battle in which they tried passionately to prevent Georgia Power from damming the Tallulah River. They argued that, by dewatering the river, the falls which inspired so much joy and awe would be destroyed. They went town to town, county to county, gaining support from the community and utilizing every resource and influence they had. But it was too late to stop the project from happening. The company had already purchased the land and begun initial stages of blasting and construction. By the 1930’s Georgia Power had bought more than forty additional miles of the Chattooga River and had plans for even more dams along its course. They leased this land in the meantime to private fishing clubs. During this time there was relatively little boating activity here and paddlers and anglers regularly clashed over the use of the river. In the late 1960’s and early 70’s anglers and concerned locals came together and urged Congress to protect the river as a pristine fishery. In 1968 the Ellicott Rock area on the upper Chattooga was given Wilderness designation. Then in 1974 the river itself was designated Wild and Scenic, putting a stop to any further development and logging within the protected river corridor. The responsibility to enforce this federal protection lies with the Forest Service and Department of Natural Resources (DNR) of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. This monumental victory is the primary reason why the Chattooga remains undammed and free-flowing for fifty-seven miles until it reaches Lake Tugaloo. The surrounding waterways were not so lucky. By the mid 1980’s there were 14 major hydroelectric projects in the Savannah River basin, turning it into a 300-mile system of lakes, one after another. Each one severs the migration of fish from one section of river to the next and ultimately from the sea, and restricts the flow of nutrients and sediment from steep mountain streams to once rich and fertile wetlands. This process of turning free-flowing streams into giant artificial lakes altered the landscape and destroyed native fish populations, requiring people to build hatcheries and introduce non-native species. At the time these dams were built there was no concern for what would happen to these fish. None of the North Georgia dams were built with fish passage to allow them to pass from one section to the next. Old growth forests were being logged on the Chattooga River at that time and hundreds of acres had to be cut and removed from the construction sites and inundation zones which would become the lakes. Cliffs were dynamited for quarries and preparation for anchoring the dams into the rock. At the time, little was known about the native plant species that would be destroyed, such as Trillium Persistens, which is now classified as an Endangered Species. An official count was never done and the historic numbers of Trillium and other rare species that were lost remains uncertain. During the last re-licensing process in 1996, there were 23 listed Endangered and Threatened Species living within the project vicinity. These included the Eastern Cougar, Bald Eagle, Peregrin Falcon, White Fringeless Orchid, Bog Turtle, and Green Salamander. These lakes were touted by the Georgia Power Company as being more beautiful than the original rivers and a source of recreation and power. Today they have proven to be something much less desirable. When a dam is built on a free-flowing river it traps sediment behind it, and any other material washed down from the river including harmful runoff. Slowly, the reservoir fills with sludge and its total water storage capacity diminishes. This eventually decreases the hydropower and flood control capabilities of the dam. In the case of Lake Tugaloo this process has been happening since 1923, ninety-four years. By 2036 it will have been 113 years! As the sludge builds up, organic material breaks down and produces Methane (CH4), a greenhouse gas. This takes the form of bubbles rising up from the bottom of the lake to escape into the atmosphere. During hot summer months and when lake levels are down you see it the most. Since greenhouse gases increase global warming, the process is cyclic: climate change analysis of the Southeastern U.S. show extended droughts and record high temperatures. This exacerbates the effects on water temperature and quality, especially in manmade reservoirs where the water sits still, unable to cool itself, increasing methane production. When the rivers feeding the reservoir run low during droughts, it limits the amount of energy the dam’s power house can generate.Now consider some other contents of this lake sediment, runoff from towns and farms. High levels of Fecal Coliform were detected in Lake Tugaloo during studies leading up to the re-licensing process, but with no one from the community to stand up and demand a more thorough examination of those findings it was not considered a big enough problem. This was in 1988.  Fecal Coliform is responsible for human health issues and can indicate the presence of other more harmful bacteria associated with skin problems and gastrointestinal illnesses. Fecal Coliform in Lake Tugaloo originates from poor wastewater management in the City of Clayton, Georgia. It enters Stekoa Creek, a major unprotected tributary of the Chattooga running right through town. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lists Stekoa Creek as a polluted waterway under the Clean Water Act. Along its course the creek receives runoff from farms containing herbicides and pesticides. These chemicals continue to leach into the groundwater even after their use has stopped and settle at the bottom of Lake Tugaloo. For over twenty years the Chattooga Conservancy, working through grants and donations, has carried out projects to restore Stekoa Creek and other areas of the Chattooga watershed. They have worked vigorously to raise awareness about the condition of the water and have helped the city to put forth to clean up the creek and improve its wastewater treatment facilities, though the pre-existing damage to the river remains largely unchallenged. Lake Tugaloo currently has a fish consumption advisory posted on line by the Georgia and South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) for Largemouth Bass and Black Crappie, both due to Methylmercury (MeHg). Mercury emissions from Coal fired plants and fossil fuel combustion goes from the air into the water and is consumed by microbes living in hydroelectric reservoirs, transforming it into Methylmercury. Through a process called bioaccumulation, this toxin is found in high amounts in the top fish of the lakes. When we eat fish containing Methylmercury, over 95% is absorbed into our blood and penetrates the cells in any tissue or organs. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are at most risk. Whoever manages a waterway assumes the responsibility to post consumption advisories at boat ramps and access points to alert the public. Since the lake and surrounding land is owned by Georgia Power it would be up to them to make these postings. So far they have not. There has never been an official study of the environmental or public health impacts of the lake’s sediment. Tearing down a dam won’t stop Mercury emissions or wastewater issues in towns, but the removal of the sediment, either by people and/or the natural erosive forces of the river, reverses the concentrative effects of impoundment. The free-flowing river would not allow as much organic material to settle and decay on the bottom, and thus methane could not be produced. The Fecal Coliform and any other bacteria would be deprived of the lake conditions they need to flourish and would become diluted in the moving water to much reduced concentrations. The microbes responsible for Mercury entering the food chain would also be robbed of their ideal environment and their effects would diminish. Ultimately, removing just one dam from this group will not bring back native fish populations or restore natural flows to the entire Savannah River. Only the combined efforts of many projects from the mountains to the sea will accomplish that. What removal of the Tugalo can accomplish is preparing the respective river section for the return of those species. It would be a mistake to re-introduce fish into an unstuitable environment after so much work has been done to bring them back. They must be given every chance at survival we can offer them. Further, just as restoring the project site would improve the surrounding environment, the uncovered river bed would help further scientific knowledge of these ancient rivers. Dams are considered “installations containing dangerous forces” under International Humanitarian Law. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Association of Dam Safety classifies dams according to the risk for loss of life and property in the event of a failure. Tugalo Dam, like many large, aging dams, is classified “High Hazard Potential.” Advancing age makes dams more susceptible to failure. The average age of U.S. dams is fifty-three years or older. Tallulah Dam is twice that age. The Nacoochee Dam is the youngest of the project. Completed in 1927, it is ninety years old. By 2027 all six dams of the North Georgia Hydro Group will be 100 years old or older. There are now 84,000 dams in the U.S. According to the National Inventory of Dams, Georgia has 5,132 dams, the third most of any State after Texas and Kansas. Of those five thousand, nearly 500 are classified “High Hazard.” In 2013 Georgia had 614 dams for every safety worker, compared to 43.5 in Florida, 152 in Tennessee, and 188 in North Carolina.  30% of all dam failures in the U.S. in the last seventy-five years were due to “overtopping,” when the flooded rivers upstream fill the lake beyond its capacity and pour over the top of the dam. This erodes the sides and the foundations, weakening the dam until it breaks. A buildup of sediment like that in Tugaloo displaces the lake’s total water storage capacity, effectively making the lake smaller and less able to handle a flood. Like other major dams, Tugalo was built with gated spillways at the top to allow water to flow through when its penstocks are at maximum flow. The last time these gates were opened to alleviate high flows was January 2016. Water data from this event shows the Chattooga and Tallulah River flows were nowhere near the historic record floods. According to USGS water data, the record high flow for the Chattooga River was between 25,000 and 30,000 cubic feet of water per second (cfs) in 1940. The highest flow recorded at the Tugalo Dam was an estimated 36,000 cfs in 1973.The floods which these dams were built to withstand are not the floods of today, and the reservoir’s total capacity is much smaller than it was 100 years ago. Floods are measured not just in flow but in duration. Climate change has not only made our droughts more severe in the Southeast but our floods too. The majority of sediment in a lake is placed there during times of the highest flows, when the river scours its banks and tears away soil, rocks, and trees. Over time this has filled the lake with a huge amount of material, especially in its delta where the Chattooga enters it. The water in this uppermost mile and a half is now only a few feet deep. When lake levels are lowered by the dam, these artificial sandbars are exposed with only narrow, inches-deep channels of water flowing through them. In one particularly shallow section recreational paddlers must drag their boats over a hundred yards of sediment to reach deeper water, and fishing boats with outboard motors are confined to a smaller, deeper area of the lake. Some fish that were able to travel between the lake and the river above are trapped in the warm still waters until the lake levels return to full pool, which may be months. This contradicts the 597 acres of prime fishing and recreation the lake was promised to provide. If age and sediment buildup diminishes a dam’s ability to handle a flood, the dam can no longer perform the functions it was built for. A dam failure actually results in less predictable flood scenarios than a natural flood event. As time goes on the costs of dam repair get higher, and so do the potential costs of having one fail. The costs of removing them are high, but it is an expense more on peoples’ terms rather than the rivers’: Once a dam fails, people are forced to deal with whatever disastrous, long-lasting consequences that result. When we choose to preemptively solve the problem, it can be done on a more convenient time frame in carefully planned phases in order to reduce further impacts. The Elwha River dam removal project began with a ten year environmental impact study and cost a staggering $300 million, including purchase and demolition of the facilities, sediment management, and hazardous material disposal. The Klamath River dam removal project is expected to cost more. In some cases, large groups form to raise money for these projects. American Rivers is a hugely successful river restoration group with numerous dam removals to their credit. Some power companies are required by state or federal regulators to have a decommission fund for their dams, though Georgia Power is currently not required to have one for their North Georgia dams. The question people must ask is what is safety worth to them? The power company will tell people the dams are safe. There is nothing safe about a century-old concrete wall holding back 500 million cubic feet of lake water and sediment.Alternative flood control strategies are currently being used by the Army Corps of Engineers on the Mississippi River, where some of the country’s most devastating historical floods have occurred. This is because they have realized that traditional dams and levees don’t stand up against such a force of nature in the long run. Adjustable flood gates, removal of obstructions, and moving levees further back are all part of a new approach to our existence with this massive river. Similar systems can be incorporated into the various flood management plans on the Savannah and its tributaries. Fish habitat restoration projects have been underway along many sections of the Savannah River basin for decades. These take many forms, from small volunteer groups to fully-funded federal programs. Carried out carefully, this will eventually help native fish and other wildlife to return to the upper mountain streams in abundant and sustainable numbers. We will see the return of a more natural ecosystem. These projects take a long time, and in many ways it is an unending job. But it is necessary. Dam removal is just one (Big) part of the restoration process.Georgia Power and its parent Southern company are currently researching wind as a renewable resource and are supplementing its energy services with wind power and solar. They currently purchase 250 Megawatts from windfarms in Oklahoma, which is sent through transmission lines over hundreds of miles to be distributed to their customers here in Georgia. By comparison that amount is roughly 50% more than the total generating capacity of the entire North Georgia Hydro Group. Georgia’s communities have had a slow start in their relationship with wind energy, but the technology is becoming more efficient and more Southeastern states are embracing its potential. Since 1998 the average capacity of wind turbines in the U.S. has increased by 170% due to larger structures with longer, lighter blades. Wind energy represents 43% of all new electric additions and $25 billion in U.S. investments. In 2010, Towns County Schools in Hiawassee, Georgia installed a turbine on their campus funded through various partnerships. In 2012, the Energy Department reported 72% of all U.S. wind installations were made by domestic manufacturers. In 2013, there were nearly 500 jobs in Georgia provided by this industry. Nationally, the wind sector employs an estimated 80,000 Americans. The Port of Savannah’s Ocean Terminal is a transportation hub for wind energy equipment.  Our acceptance of this technology will depend largely on its cost benefits outweighing those of the existing infrastructure. The annual dam –related expenses and revenue will be measured against those of an increasingly efficient, truly renewable resource. With any major power generating endeavor, there are compromises which the company and its customers must be willing to accept. In the case of dams, it is numerous environmental, public health and safety concerns. With windfarms, it is the amount of land needed for dozens of turbines. Montezuma Hills Windfarm in California produces 180 Megawatts and uses 6,800 acres, compared to the North Georgia Hydro Group which produces 166 Megawatts and impounds over 4,800 acres of lakes. Geography and wind turbine design are big factors in how much energy can be generated at a windfarm. Solar energy technology has also been available to citizens for decades. Georgia Power now offers its customers solar power options. Atlanta and many other communities in the Southeast are taking advantage of this resource. While solar installations typically do not offer the high energy generating capacity like wind turbines, their easy use and practically zero environmental impact is a major selling point to thousands of people looking to soften their energy bills. The cost of installing Solar units has dropped 60% in the last ten years. The Solar industry currently employs 260,000 Americans. Utilized in all 50 states, there are now 1.3 million Solar installations in the U.S. Compared to land use requirements of both hydroelectric reservoirs and wind farms, solar installations are the least demanding. The average total land use for solar plants is 8.9 acres per Megawatt. While location and geography vary greatly for hydro and wind facilities, they commonly require 30 to 40 acres of land per Megawatt. Solar panel repair costs are also lower than any other energy resource, and their replacement does not require decades-long, multi-million dollar environmental productions like dam removals do.The local recreation and tourism-based economic benefits the lakes are said to provide would not suffer with the removal of one or more of these dams. On the contrary, the economy would be boosted by visitors coming to enjoy the newly restored river. Anglers prefer a cool, free-flowing river because it supports a healthier, more diverse fish population. The biggest driving force behind the current federal protection of the Chattooga River is based on the principal that a less-impacted, undeveloped environment makes for a better fishing experience. The absence of motorboats which are allowed on Lake Tugaloo would improve air quality and solitude. For whitewater enthusiasts, the Chattooga is referred to as “the Crown Jewel of the Southeast.” Boaters around the world often express tremendous support for dam removal projects and would come to the river to challenge themselves in rapids which were never run before the lakes inundated the area. Little information exists about those rapids, but the average gradient and geologic makeup of the river bed suggests features similar to Section 3 and 4 of the Chattooga.  There are no houses, only two long, gravel roads accessing the lake, and the only property owner is Georgia Power. This already makes for a quiet escape where one can spend all day without seeing another person, especially during Winter and Spring. If the restored river were to be included in a protective land management program it would serve to extend an already priceless wilderness area. Hardwood trees, River Cain, and other native species could be transplanted and repopulate for the first time since logging wiped them out 150 years ago. Dam removal is one of the biggest social issues of our time. These massive structures were once a symbol of American ingenuity and have been a part of our lives for generations. This is the origin of the myth that “dams have been here for so long they aren’t going away any time soon.” No two dams are exactly the same, and as more are removed the litigation process is backed up with documented positive results and demolition techniques become more advanced and streamlined. In some cases, thousands of fish and other animals were removed from lakes and downstream areas to avoid mass killings. This is an immense effort, and still cannot guarantee a painless transformation. Removing a dam must be viewed as an ecological disturbance. As the water table reverts back to a more natural level, certain trees and riparian vegetation will die and others will take their place. Some birds, otters, turtles, frogs, and other land animals will be forced to relocate in order to survive, while freshwater mussels and other invertebrates could experience near 100% mortality rates. Newly-suspended sediments in the water column move downstream, which can have both positive and negative consequences. While the added nutrients may help streambanks and certain organisms to thrive, a massive amount of it can threaten other species and municipal drinking water sources. While the sediment can and should be tested prior to removing a dam, it can still contain hard to detect deposits of phosphorous or other contaminants. These problems must all be addressed during the planning stages of dam removals. This pales in comparison to the original environmental impacts of building the dams and lakes in the first place, but we have to take a harder look at this issue now and every consequence must be considered. Signing this petition does not mean you support putting a problem off on someone else, some downstream community. It does not mean you have to support wind or solar energy. It does not mean you want people to lose their property or their jobs. It does not mean you support creating dangerous, uncertain conditions which threaten human life or wildlife. It means you support dealing with this problem in a local way as part of a broader effort to restore the river. It will ultimately be up to Georgia Power, federal regulators, and teams of specialists to decide the best way to achieve this goal. This includes biologists, geologists, engineers, and decision makers from the forest service and local government. Signing this petition means you assume a progressive attitude towards our future, and it means you are openly challenging a long standing dynamic. This petition proposes that the Georgia Power Company and Southern Company, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Rabun County lawmakers, Georgia State legislatures, and any relevant third parties: *Conduct more extensive, thorough studies of the environmental, public health, and socio- economic impacts of this project *Consider removal of the Tugalo Dam, its powerhouse, and potentially other installations of the North Georgia Hydroelectric Group as the best solution *Hold open meetings in Northeast Georgia for the purposes of education and gathering public opinion *Include a restoration plan for the reclaimed stream and river banks *Consider land management options to further protect this area    

Josh Williford
2,717 supporters