The Sierra Club And Georgia Power Prepare For Litigation

Last week, the nonprofit Sierra Club, an environmental watchdog group, notified Georgia Power about the organization’s intent to sue over a proposed utility company plan to clean ponds in the State of Georgia containing toxic coal ash residues. The utility firm has indicated it will remove environmental waste generated by 11 coal-burning plants in the Peach State. However, it seeks to empty out water from containment ponds at some sites without first obtaining updated permits.

Moving Away From Coal Ash Ponds

As a subsidiary of Southern Company, Georgia Power operates as a utility in 155 of the state’s 159 counties. It provides power for business and residential customers using a combination of resources. Energy sources utilized by the firm include nuclear power, natural gas, coal, solar power, wind energy and hydroelectric power.

The company for several years has sought to modernize some coal-burning facilities which generate coal ash. This waste product occurs following the burning of coal for energy. Coal ash sometimes includes toxic heavy metal components, such as lead, mercury and arsenic. Previously, some 29 coal ash waste ponds contained much of this material. The Sierra Club seeks to ensure the water removed from these sites won’t damage adjoining waterways or public drinking water systems.

The Coal Ash Pond Cleanup Effort

Georgia Power recently indicated the closure of the existing coal ash ponds will constitute part of a projected $2 billion cleanup plan. The firm will shut down all the coal ash ponds. It expects to treat contaminated water, or recycle it. Workers will also remove coal ash deposits to other locations, seal them in place, or recycle them, too. The details of this effort have generated concern on the part of Georgia environmentalists, who fear the recycling of heavy metals may contribute to public health problems unless conducted in strict accord with federal clean water regulations.

The utility began emptying coal ash ponds near its McManus Plant outside Brunswick, Georgia late last year. Since this action occurred without the company first seeking updated permit approvals, the Sierra Club has indicated it will seek an injunction. It wants remediation to ensure the water removal efforts comply with environmental safety standards. A spokesman for Georgia Power contended in an email responding to an Atlanta journalist the firm has complied fully with rules enforced by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division and will launch a robust defense.

Legal dispute forces Snopes to launch GoFundMe campaign

Snopes, the fact-checking website, has had to launch a GoFundMe page to keep operating, according to an article in PC Mag. Snopes has been forced to ask readers and supporters for money because they are not receiving any advertising revenue. The lack of advertising revenue is caused by a complicated legal dispute that stems from the divorce of David and Barbara Mikkelson, who jointly owned Snopes while they were married.

In 2015, the Mikkelsons hired Proper Media to manage advertising sales and ad placement on Snopes. The contract also called for Proper Media to manage advertising revenue. The Mikkelsons owned Snopes through a company by the name of Bardav Inc. When they divorced in 2016, David and Barbara each received 50 percent of Bardav. Barbara wanted to sell her stake to Proper Media, but the agreement splitting the company prevented her from selling her share to a company. She overcame this obstacle by selling shares to executives at Proper Media individually.

In March of 2017, David Mikkelson gave Proper Media 60 days notice that he planned to terminate Bardav’s contract with Proper Media. In May, he requested “certain information” from Proper Media, which Proper Media did not provide to him. Proper Media filed suit against David soon after, contending that he and Vincent Green – one of the Proper Media executives who had purchased a small stake in Bardav from Barbara – had blocked other Proper Media executives from access to the content management system. The suit also alleged that David Mikkelson and Vincent Green stole $10,000 worth of computer equipment from Proper Media. Bardav filed a counter-suit against Proper Media.

While the litigation is pending, Proper Media is withholding advertising revenue generated by the Snopes website. Snopes started the GoFundMe campaign to pay staff and cover other operating expenses. They requested half a million dollars. Contributors helped them to exceed that goal.