Georgia Environmental Budget on the Back Burner?

 

At first glance, the environmental budget chart on ballotpedia.org makes Georgia look deprived of natural resource spending compared to its neighboring states.

Courtesy of Ballotpedia.org

The chart lists Georgia as only allocating $248 million to the department of natural resources in 2015. This number appeared low when compared to states like Florida. Their environmental budget received over one billion dollars that same year. This raised the question, why did Georgia have such so much less spending?

Our research started with the National Resource Defense Council and the Environmental Protection Agency. Both sources were unable to provide feedback.

The NRDC failed to give any insight and said that, “Georgia is not a state we do much work in, so [we are] unsure what we will be able to contribute.”

Meanwhile, after giving it some thought, the EPA didn’t want to play ball and referred us to contact “Georgia’s state environmental program.”

Luckily, a University of Georgia professor in the department of agriculture was able to chat.

Water Resource Management and Policy specialist Gary Hawkins clarified why the data appeared skewed for Georgia.

“There are multiple divisions within each state environmental department that the table doesn’t specify,” said Hawkins. “To my knowledge, the Environmental Protection in Florida covers more divisions, making their number seem higher.”

According to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources website, there are six different divisions covered under Georgia’s natural resources.

“The Department of Public Health is its own entity in Georgia,” said Hawkins.

This chart on ballotpedia.org could trick someone who only gives it a quick read. Hawkins’ knowledge clarified that different states can include or exclude certain divisions, making the chart appear skewed.

Deborah Gonzalez, a candidate for the upcoming election for State Representative, said that when deciding between her top issues to solve and environmental ones, “Environment gets pushed down the list.”

The sign outside of polling location 7C at Athens-Clarke County Fire Station #3 that welcomes voters to the special election on November 7, 2017 in Athens, Georgia. (Photo/Gracie Thompson).

Gonzalez explained that she thinks environmental issues are lumped into her “second-tier list of priorities” and she considers them as important as infrastructure. Health care and education are the two platforms she plans to focus on.

Headshot provided by Deborah Gonzalez’s campaign

Houston Gaines, the opposing party candidate, could not be reached for a statement regarding the environmental budget, but his main concerns are job creation, fiscal responsibility, transportation and infrastructure, as well as healthcare and education.

 

-editors: Nicole Adamson, Gracie Thompson, Caroline Windham, Reann Huber, & Nicholas Cordts

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